LA is such a fascinating place: it’s full of people pursuing an artistic path, and yet it’s more focused on the business and the fame than the actual beauty of truthful storytelling. There are so many likeminded people here, and yet, I hear people complain about the lack of community, the lack of genuine friendliness.
Until this past weekend, I didn’t realize community was something I lacked. I went to a music festival with my sisters, and while there, everyone was so friendly and outgoing. Everyone wanted to be friends with everyone else.
I forgot that I used to be like that.
Growing up in Texas, everyone is friends with everyone else. We talk to our cashiers about their day (and actually mean it). We talk to our neighbors. We invite new people into our circle. It’s the culture of the south.
I love LA, but people are more reserved here. People have their friends, and they keep to them. I’m the same way now – I hate small talk. I don’t particularly want to engage with people I don’t know I already enjoy.
I’m not sure I can pinpoint the exact moment this shift occurred in me, if LA did the trick, or if it started in college, but I think it’s become a flaw. I used to think the opposite, that my friendliness was a flaw – it made it too easy for people to step over me – but being open and kindhearted should never be seen as a negative.
I’ve noticed community exists in different pockets of LA. One of my favorite places to go is Erewhon. It’s this health nut, too expensive, grocery chain in LA, but I love it. I love the people there, the food, the environment… I was doing work on their patio, and I witnessed all these people engaging with each other, striking up new conversations, helping each other out… it was great. I purposefully went there to put myself in a position to be surrounded by supportive, homey people.
I wanted to remind myself that how and where I see community is up to me.
I can choose to seclude myself, only work from home, go to work, see only select friends when I choose to, or I can choose to open myself up. Allow other people to enter my space. Allow for the opportunity to meet someone new, to engage in a different energy than I planned for the day.
One of the things I love about traveling and staying in hostels is that everyone is new. You don’t really know anyone (besides who you may be traveling with), and you don’t know much about where you are. And so, everything is seen with new eyes. It makes us open. You don’t have to think about it, the situation naturally makes us attune to it.
It’s my goal to create that kind of space in LA for myself. I can’t change how everyone else acts, but I can change my own relationship to the city. When I’m staying put in one place, I can keep my traveler mentality: be friendly. try new things. open my eyes.
It may not be the natural mentality of LA, but shifting my mindset will help center me closer to who I naturally am. And in turn, lead to a more satisfied, complete self.
I can already feel myself internally sighing, “ugh, new people?” So… clearly this will be a journey 🙂
To meeting new people!