Today, I officially completed my move to San Francisco, giving up keys to my beloved apartment in Berkeley. When I moved to Berkeley on my birthday in 2012, I’d started out as an excited young person looking forward to great experiences and a successful time in the PhD program. Things turned out to be quite different in reality, but Berkeley has had a significant impact on my preferences, identity, and world view. In the meantime, I battled severe depression, dropped out of the PhD program, got a job that I don’t quite hate, and also managed to recover from the depression at least enough to be regularly functional. I’ve gone from loving everything about Berkeley, to absolutely hating and detesting it, to liking it but also feeling restless, to finally feeling at home. And it is at this last stage that I’ve found the courage to make an uncomfortable change and move to San Francisco. It’s not easy because I’m leaving behind most of my best friends and a lifestyle I’ve grown to like. That said, it’s not very hard either, because San Francisco isn’t so far.
Many people have asked why I’m moving. The answer is simple. I’ve had the strong discomforting feeling of not having moved much after college (thereby limiting available experiences) for a while. I’ve previously talked about the philosophy of “adventure” – regularly seeking change, making peace with it, and thriving in it. While I’m having to give up comfort to do this move, I’m getting to scratch an itch without which there would always be regret. Turns out, I find it easier to live with discomfort than with regret.
Another reason to move was to cut down on physical possessions. I’ve been a hoarder for much of my life, and this reflected in the vast amount of junk I had accumulated living in my large apartment. I’m moving to a studio now, so space comes at a premium, which I expect will keep me disciplined.
This is going to be my first time living in a big city independently (i.e. not in a college campus or such). I’m looking forward to the rush of that lifestyle and figuring out if it suits me. Given where I am in life right now, I think it will. Since there was no particular pressure to move, I had the luxury of picking the right apartment and neighborhood, so I’m pleased about being able to experience the city my way. I’ve realized over the last year or so that the cultural fabric of the place I live in matters a lot to me. This is directly related to the kind of people that form my community. In Berkeley, this has been a healthy mix of people of various identities who have taught me a lot. San Francisco might be very different, but I’m both nervous and eager to see who I meet in the city. Of course, I’m not going to let connections with my people in Berkeley get affected.
In conclusion, I will admit that I have bittersweet feelings about leaving Berkeley, but it had to be done. It’s been a remarkable five years that have shaped me in permanent ways, and there couldn’t have been a better place to spend them. In time, the excitement of a new place will not only subsume the anxiety, but also hopefully make doing this again easier. What I intend to keep collecting is learnings and experiences along the way.- nRT