The Thing About Moving to a New City

Source: Judgmental Maps

As a “professional student” and natural nomad, I’ve never really had a problem with moving. The first time I moved — from Guam to Manila, at the age of eleven — it beat the resistance and fear of new places out of me, so much that I began to embrace moving, and see it as a necessary part of my life. If I’m moving, it meant I’m progressing through life.

Going to college? Move to Seattle.
Going to medical school? Move to Miami.
Going to figure out my next move? Move to San Francisco.
Going to film school? Move to Los Angeles.

And even all the trips in between. Traveling to another country was seen as a career boost. Learning about human rights? Go to Kenya. Going to finish English requirements for medical school? Go to Rome. Going to complete clinical externships? Go to Japan and Thailand.

I used to embrace these changes freely. But that was when I had a clear sense of where my life was going, when I thought I was going to be a doctor. When I thought I was going to be settled in a career by the time I was 28 years old. And yet it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m going to graduate school in film at UCLA — a big stepping stone in a much bigger future I’m creating —and faced with realities I thought only a person in their early- to mid-twenties would have to confront.

Student loans. Affordable housing. Public transportation.

Call me elitist and privileged, but when I was in grade school, imagining what my life would look like when I was approaching my thirties, it didn’t look like this. Maybe it’s that delusional side of the millennial that the media likes to mock — naively optimistic kid with visions of grandeur, of being singled out for “being special.” I wanted the career success, with the multimillion-dollar salary at the age of 25 while I sat on my bachelorette pad in NYC. I wove fantasies like that. But they were fantasies that I thought were totally doable. (They still are. But why and how you get there is the difficult thing, and I never knew what I wanted and how I wanted to do it, until this past year.)

I’m almost coming to resent my wanderlust impulse. It’s almost easy to want to stay in future-oriented, tech-loving San Francisco. To take the easy way out, study for 3 months, and become a full-stack developer or UX designer. Earn six figures, settle for that one guy I really liked in the city, who I was really attracted to but who didn’t quite get my ambition or my drive. I could give in to my anxieties about moving, and just stay in a city that, for the first time in my life, I could see myself settling in.

I could do all that, and forget that I had a dream, once.


Someone recently gave me some really good advice about life. She said: “The universe will dangle something in front of you that is close to what you want, and you will be tempted to grab for it.” How much are you willing to have the world go exactly how you say — not just close to it, not just good enough — but exactly how you said it would go? Maybe even better than you thought was possible?

In short, how good are you willing to have it?

As good as I create it to be.

I’m not just moving to Los Angeles for a career boost (though it is a significant one). I’m moving because I’m out to create — with people — something extraordinary in the world, and Los Angeles is where I’ll grow in filmmaking by leaps and bounds. At the end of the day, it’s where these greater visions will be realized.

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