Thursday, October 18, 2007

LIFE (IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT)

A lot can be said about people who don’t believe in the saying: “Life is what you make it.” I could go on and on about this subject, and I could probably create a long list of people that I know who may be guilty of falling into the trap of not making their life experience work for one reason or another (myself included, at times). But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I will babble about my own take on the mantra-cum-cliché, as it applies to me, myself, and I. Let’s begin…

I come from the Washington, DC area. I was born in Bethesda, and grew up in Ft. Washington –both of which are located on opposite ends of the Capital Beltway in the neighboring state of Maryland. I spent my first few years after birth in Jacksonville, FL – the result of my dad’s career with the U.S. Navy… but I was way too young to remember too much about that. I am the product of a Mid-Atlantic upbringing, which is a good thing (at least I believe it to be). Growing up just 10-minutes outside of DC, I was exposed to everything you could possibly imagine: wealth and poverty, racists and non-racists, liberals and conservatives, blacks and whites (and Filipino, in my case… growing up in Ft. Washington/Oxon Hill), yada-yada-blah-blah-blah. I was lucky to have grown up in such a progressive-yet-transient city like DC, and I’m proud to say that I’ve experienced that city like no other. While a lot of my friends were content with hanging out in the suburbs, I found myself always venturing off into the city to do anything from random grocery shopping to museum hopping, dining to lounging, observing the diverse architecture to just hanging out at someone’s pad. One thing’s for sure, even though I am a product of suburbia, I have realized that suburbia is not for me –not for long term, at least. I appreciated the fact that DC was a mini-NYC: fast and upbeat, but not completely overwhelming. DC is less edgy than NYC, but strikes high in classiness.

Just shy of my 30th birthday, however, I decided that I had enough. While the DC area was “home,” I was finished. I had consumed every bit of energy and life that the city had to offer me, and I craved change. NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles were the top three on my list. I easily gave up on NYC because I felt it was too much of a cakewalk being so close. Chicago would’ve been a nice change of pace, but the idea of a lake winter scared me shitless. Los Angeles wasn’t my favorite choice, but I knew it would be the safest because I had family and friends that were already there. So one day I decided to quit my job, let everything go, and just start anew. Los Angeles became my “new home.”

While I didn’t have a hard time adjusting, I certainly spent my first couple of months treading the line between hating it and missing home way too much than I needed. I was that guy who kept comparing L.A. to “home.” I was that guy who always had to call out how things in L.A. were so not the same as how things were back in DC (looking back – it’s kind of like “duh…” that’s obvious). I was that guy who thought that I was above everything and everyone around; hating on the food, the style and fashion, the lack of this or that or whatever else there was that I could think of bashing. Then I made my first trip back east just three months later (for my niece’s 1st birthday), and I realized that I wasn’t giving my new home the chance that it deserved. While I loved visiting home, I was swept away with the realization that too much of the same thing would only keep me from spreading my wings. I was being too closed-minded about my new surroundings, not owning up to the fact that if I had moved back home right away, I would’ve probably eventually died from the ultra-conservativeness that “nurtures” DC. While I love DC (and my family/friends) with all my heart, I had to learn to love L.A. just the same.

And luckily, I have.

While I miss the confined claustrophobia of big, bustling cities (NYC, Chicago, San Francisco), I feel a certain sense of freedom living in a place that is as sprawling as L.A. In Los Angeles, no one really gives a fuck about what you do, how you look, or where you’re going to have your next drink. You can be Hollywood-ed out, or you can be a beach bum… you can be a corporate peon, or you can work for yourself… you can wear Ugg boots with whatever you can think of (and look completely ridiculous doing so), or you can be as fashion conscious as those who care. No one cares. That’s the bottom line. And those people who do care couldn’t survive here very long.

I hate when I come across people who tread that fine line that I once did, and can’t seem to let go of what they’re used to. Instead of embracing what’s laid out before them, they kick and scream about how much they hate what they do, or where they’re doing it. All I have to say to them is “get over yourself, and step out of your damn soapbox.” I am a firm believer that you can make any place home if you only try. You may have reasons for disliking a place, but you can’t really blame a place for your experience being so “lame.” The cards are in your hands, and you deal with them as you do. It’s not where you do what you do, it’s HOW and WHAT you do what you do.

I have no sympathy for people who can’t seem to break out of their comfort zones, and blame everything but themselves for their poor experiences. I know that not everyone will experience life in the same way that I do, or find a similar appreciation for their experiences and/or surroundings… but there’s a lot to be said about those who feel the constant need to convince themselves that something isn’t cool. Perhaps it’s not the place or the experience that’s warped, but themselves.

I’d rather them admit that more than anything.

2 comments:

liveleah said...

there is more to life, yes? :)

Romella said...

Good post Wen! I truly admire you for living life! You got it going bro! Remember when we talked about moving to Chicago? The "marriage bug" caught me early enough to make a move! :o)I'm proud of you for taking the plunge and exploring the diversity of life!XOXO