When my sister and brother-in-law revealed they were expecting on Christmas of 2013, I knew immediately that the next 9 months were going to be incredible. I also knew that my life was going to change forever for the better. What I didn’t know was that the end of the 9 months would happen while I was 3,000 miles away at freshman NYU orientation.
I come from a tight-knit family; we all live within 30-40 minutes (without traffic #LAProblems) of each other. Growing up, birthdays and holidays were celebrated together and weekend meet-ups were a regular. I am 1 of 3 people in my family who have gone to college; the other two are my sister and my cousin whom both stayed in the area.
So when I broke the news to my family in high school that I wanted to move across the country… well, they took a minute to digest it. Now, don’t get me wrong. My family has always been supportive of my dreams and continue to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy being the only one that left.
Getting into NYU is my proudest accomplishment and I have absolutely loved every moment of the past three years here. I have had internships and on-campus jobs, learned from incredible professors and made some life-changing relationships. I wouldn’t change anything about my experiences.
And yet, sometimes I cry when I watch the videos of my niece my sister sends me because I’m not there day-to-day like my relatives are. Sometimes I still start to reply to the group text from godmothers asking to get lunch before I realize that I won’t be back for another three months for spring break. Sometimes I catch myself saying “New York” instead of “LA” when asked where I’m from and I can’t help but feel like a traitor to my hometown.
As graduation comes up, I find myself at a crossroads. A majority of my friends (both from LA and NYU) are returning to the City of Angels upon finishing and I’d be lying if part of me didn’t want to do the same. I mean, common. It’s California.
But the other part of me knows this: I am my best self when I am living my dream, and that’s to be successful in New York City. My worst days on this coast are better than the best ones on the other. And while maybe one day I will move back, today I am happier than I’ve ever been and a lot of that is because of where I am. It’s okay to feel guilty about leaving and to miss home. It’s not okay to let that stop you from achieving greatness.
Xo, Dani California