Leaving My Entire Life in San Francisco
Note: this blog post was originally written in June 2015 and edited in New York City, my current new residence, today.
Three weeks ago, I saw the email to renew a year lease for my beautiful apartment in San Francisco.
My apartment is complete with brand-new appliances & carpet, a balcony (which I tanned on in a bathing suit and towel February — incredible) and awesome roommates. I am a 40-minute straight-shot, congested bus ride from downtown San Francisco, where I work and play (not too bad).
My job at Women 2.0 - the first out of college - has opened doors for me, and has exposed me to ideas, innovation and creativity I didn’t even know existed. I was in the heart of tech culture in Silicon Valley and my company fostered the largest community for female founders in tech.
My job afforded me interactions to some of the biggest players in the industry; investors at 500 Startups, Rothenberg Ventures, Homebrew VC, the Vice President of Space X, the CFO of Square, (both of whom I had the pleasure to interview) and Jack Dorsey in private conference room of around 24 people. Other notable women I interviewed also included Nancy Pelosi and Betty DeGeneres (yes, for real, Ellen’s mom), and that list doesn’t even include the connections I made with the next wave of women working their way to the top.
That’s why when I decided not to re-sign my lease, leave my job, and move back home, a lot of people were confused.
In all honesty, I was a little confused too.
A Bad Gut Feeling
I had known for a month that an email about my lease was coming and I had already verbally agreed to my roommates that I would be staying and signing on for the next year. At the time, I truly thought I was. I had discussed it with my parents and friends quite a few times. I was going to stay in this booming city for another year.
That’s why I couldn’t quite understand why when my eyes glazed over the email subject line, “LEASE RENEWAL” on a humid day in Austin, Texas, I got a lump in my throat and my eyes started to water.
In explaining it to my mom the next day, I couldn’t quite get the right words.
Panic? eh, yes.
Anxiety? Okay, partially.
But it wasn’t quite a feeling of nervousness either, more of a strong repulsion to the idea. If there was one word that could sum up “do not go through with this,” that would be the feeling (It’s currently 11:30 p.m. and my brain can’t come up with the right word).
The lease agreement should’ve brought feelings of excitement, gratitude and above all a sense of pride. I had made it, in the real world, and not just any “real world,” — San Francisco of all cities! The city that is so expensive, cost-of-living rates are prohibiting most of today’s young adult population from moving in. The city where you need to bring your pay stubs in apartment showings, because the market is so competitive. The city, that according to all of my friends and family, is the most beautiful and most-desired city to live in in the world right now.
But instead, all I felt was extreme unease.
Coming to Terms
After a few hours of thinking about that email on the humid streets of Austin, Texas, something I had been pushing down for a long time came surfacing to the top.
This was about more than just a lease. This was about another dream I had suppressed the last two years, or more accurately, since I had graduated San Francisco State University, in favor of another incredible life avenue.
Since college graduation, I had wanted to live in another city. And in all honesty, I didn’t think San Francisco had everything I was looking for, at least at this time in my life.
It felt a little too easy, especially having spent my college years there. My dad worked in San Francisco and would pick me up, brining me home at least once every two months, if not more frequently, for family events. My cousins, and my brother all lived within a 5 block radius, except one, who was a 5-minute drive away.
In some ways going to college so close to home made me feel as though I missed out on a bigger growth experience my brother and other friends had by going to school in a city beyond a relatively close driving distance.
I craved adventure, I craved a different culture, I craved new perspectives and I craved a more confident, wiser version of myself.
Nearly 2,000 miles away from San Francisco in an AirBnb in Austin, it occurred to me that the simultaneous timing of having outgrown my current job and having my lease be up for renewal was a ticket out.
More frightening than that realization was that I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go next, I just knew I wanted to go.