10 Lessons I’ve Learned On How to Survive in Los Angeles

1. Uber is a way of life.

Even if you have a car, which most people do, sometimes you don’t want to deal with the hassle of paying to park and dealing with traffic. Uber (or Lyft) is life in L.A.

2. Wear black.

When you don’t know what to wear, wear black. When you are trying to look professional, wear black. When you are trying to look fancy, wear black. When you are trying to look laid-back, wear black. If you wear black in Los Angeles, then you will instantly fit in. Trust me.

3. Parallel parking is mandatory.

I parallel park my car a minimum of once a week, and I would say my experience is a rarity. Most people, parallel park several times a day. So if you don’t know how to parallel park, that is a skill that is essential to survival in this city.

4. Only go to restaurants with a recommendation or a good Yelp review.

This is not New York. The food in L.A. is more like hit or miss, not really in between. Not every mom and pop shop restaurant is good or even decent for that matter. I’ve tried some hole in the wall places on a whim and gone to sleep hungry. Just don’t do it.

5. Get used to the smell of urine.

I know that sounds gross but its a reality. In certain parts of L.A. county, the faint scent of urine is always present. Two common areas that fit this description are downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood.

6. In-N-Out is the McDonald’s of the west.

I’m sure without even living here you could have guessed this one. I don’t even eat meat, but I stop there for a milkshake from time to time.

7. Rent is the biggest reality check of all time.

I don’t understand how people can get a big head living in this city. One word: Rent. It is the biggest piece of humble pie you could ever be served. Even if you are “balling out of control,” my mentality is life can change in a minute. Be grateful and stay humble because rent is a beast.

8. Time is of the essence, but you can get away with being late here. (But don’t push it.)

So in Los Angeles, when you make plans to meet someone at 7:00, what that really means is closer to 7:30(ish). Traffic is no joke here. If you are running late just because you are behind, well good luck. You definitely won’t arrive at your destination on time. Even if you budget your time properly and leave an hour early to be somewhere, you still might not make it on time. Traffic is always a given. (And don’t forget about trying to find parking!)

9. Making friends takes time.

This is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn when you move to any city, let alone one as large and spread out as L.A. Meeting people, solid people, takes time. I have definitely been discouraged at times, but in time, you start to meet people based on your interests and hobbies. It gets easier. It does.

10. Los Angeles is not for everyone, but if it is for you, then you’ll know it.

When I pulled into L.A. that first night and saw the skyline and all the headlights, I knew I was home. It has definitely been hard, but it’s been worth it. I know, for now, that this is where I should be.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“If you have a dream, something you are passionate about, something you can’t get out of your head, even if you tried, go after it with all you’ve got.”

-Stephkt

When I Felt Like Jennifer Aniston in the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie Debacle

The echo resounded around the world. The ripple effect could be felt seemingly everywhere. It was like a pen dropping in a starkly, silent room. Unfortunately, I am not talking about important world events like the hurricane in Haiti or the Syrian civil war. I am talking about the breakup of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

Shocking.

Everyone seemed to have their two cents to give. Their names were sprawled across headlines everywhere. Daytime talk show hosts had a field day picking apart the history of this relationship and how it was doomed for chaos from the start.

The one unsuspecting player in this game of love and war was Jennifer Aniston. If you aren’t aware, Jennifer is the former wife of Brad Pitt, pre- Angelina Jolie. It is largely speculated that the end of their five-year marriage (2000-2005) was due to an affair with Angelina Jolie that began on the set of “Mr & Mrs. Smith.”

What I found most interesting about the whole scenario was how Jennifer was brought into the commotion of her ex’s divorce. It seemed a bit unfair to bring Jennifer, who has been divorced from this man for 11 years and is also remarried, into the conversation.

Let’s be real…..she has absolutely nothing to do with it. She is her own person, as is he. She was Jennifer Aniston before she met Brad Pitt and will be long after. She is not him.

Saying all this to say, I can relate. (Not that I can understand the celebrity life that Jennifer lives by any means.) Recently, someone from college reached out to me via text. We exchanged the regular, “How are you’s?” and “I’m doing wells.” And then she asked me the question I wasn’t expecting….”How are you doing about (insert my ex’s name here)?”

To properly set the scene here, I was at work, swamped with a stack of stories to edit and probably shouldn’t have been checking my phone (since it is distracting, but I did anyway.) So when I got this message, to say I was caught off-guard would be a huge understatement. The ex I was being questioned about was someone I dated in college, five years ago. (I laughed just typing that because it still gets me.)

My ex is engaged. So on one hand, I suppose I get it….I lie. No, I don’t. I don’t understand why anyone would ask me about someone I dated more than half a decade ago. Because here’s the thing, that was a long time ago. I’ve moved on. He’s moved on. I’ll tell you something else…I did the work (back then) that I needed to do to move on. I did the whole “unfollowing” on all social media accounts thing. (And I stopped any and all creeping.) I deleted his number. I moved away after graduating college. I worked on myself. I spent time on my knees praying and talking to God more than I had ever done. I looked in the mirror and worked on myself. I got knocked down, but then I got back up. I took time, and guess what? I healed. Like 100 percent healed. My heart is OK. In fact, it is wonderful.

Twenty-Something Advice (for anybody):
“There is so much freedom and beauty in moving on, in setting something and someone free when it’s time.”

The optimistic side of me would like to think this friend from college reached out to me out of genuine concern, which I’m sure is partially true. I just wonder how often we do this to other people and to ourselves. How often do we attach people to a person or thing from their past? How often do we bring up things that we’ve put to rest and need to stay there?

When I heard all the comments about Jennifer Aniston in the news lately, my first thought was, “Let her live her life.” She moved on from Brad Pitt. I am guessing it hurt, a lot, at the time, but that was 11 years ago. For me, it was more than five years ago (almost six). I’ve moved on. I’m good. I’m genuinely happy. I did the work I needed to do to learn from that situation and that relationship. It was a teacher. I’d like to think that my name won’t forever be attached to an ex’s. I am, in fact, my own person. I was before that relationship, and I still am now.

With all sincerity, I wish my ex well. I am not angry, bitter, mad or heartbroken. I hope he is happy. Once upon a time, he and I were friends. Before the breakup, before dating, we were friends. So that part of me, the part that saw him as my friend, still has good will toward him. I have nothing but good thoughts to send his way. Five years ago, when we first broke up, I probably couldn’t have said that. But now, today, I’m good. We’ve all moved on, and I am happy that he is happy. He deserves that. He deserves to move on and live his life, as do I.

I think that’s the lesson here, learning to (genuinely) let go of people and things when it’s time. I think it’s important to not hold on when it’s time to turn the page. I know social media makes it so easy to peer into the past and creep (as the millennial generation so fondly calls it), but I’d advocate that there is so much freedom and beauty in moving on, in setting something and someone free when it’s time.

So here’s to hoping 11 years from now, someone isn’t texting you about your ex from high school or college. Here’s to hoping who you once were won’t define how you see yourself now. It’s time to let it go.

-Stephkt