To cap off my recent post about my transition to San Diego, here are some of the more social (and interpersonal) lessons I’ve learned since arriving:
- Capitalize on connections, even if it doesn’t feel like you should. I wanted, very much, to find my own place in SD. I’d never lived alone before, much less in a new city that doubled as a tourist attraction, and the prospect felt exhilarating. So, I initially blew off my mom’s insistence to find a Filipino friend-of-a-friend-of-an-aunt I could live with. Places like Northpark or Ocean Beach further south are full of people my age, and I searched for and even met a potential roommate. Things were going great.
Turns out doing this is very, very expensive. Had I kept this route, I would’ve spent near $3000 by the time I’d arrived, starting out in (additional) crippling debt. I ended up renting a room in a large 4-bedroom house owned by my mom’s college best friend, in a far north suburb of San Diego called Ranchos Peñasquitos (PQ).
For $600, I enjoy a large space, a golf course and fire pit in the backyard, and sometimes, already cooked meals 😊. Though this definitely helped the cost of moving, living in suburb central has its downsides…
- You will get lonely. Even though I was in dissertation hell (and isolation) for months prior to moving, it was still comforting to know that I could call up any of my friends and meet them for a coffee. For the first three days in San Diego, the knowledge of having no one here to reach out to was isolating. Within hours of dropping my boyfriend off at the airport, the lack of familiarity around me was a cold introduction to an otherwise sunny city.
Ironically, a timely media release discussing the adverse health effects of loneliness was the cherry on top of my boring first week. And since the findings are derived from meta-analyses, then it must be true (I joke, but this is as close as psychology gets to proving anything). Holt-Lunstad also posits from her research that by 2030, loneliness will be an epidemic, and AI will be critical to counteracting these effects. Helloo near future:
It took a few chats with neighbors and acquaintances of my auntie’s family, all of whom made similar transitions, to let me know it was completely normal to feel so displaced, and to take it in stride. Quite embarrassing really, for someone who’s semi-trained in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (lols). A paraphrase:
Accept your reactions and be present
Choose a valued direction
So…. I did. But not before some introspection…
- You will learn how social you really are. For as long as I could remember, I considered myself a quiet and frankly, boring person. I never really talked much in groups, just enjoying the banter of a group while out. I joined a sorority in college, not just to break out of my shy shell, but to enjoy structure of a sisterhood to ease the friend-making process. Puzzling decision, sure, as I did feel obligated to stay up-to-date with topics I didn’t care much about, or adopt social graces for the sake of sociability (e.g., never say no to a fraternity invitation; of course we’re drinking at brunch) – though all that is its own story. For those passions separate from Greek life (watching, reading, and writing sci-fi, for instance), I happily ventured off to a coffee shop alone, where I felt I could be myself without consequence. For all these reasons, I’d developed a reputation as a fairly quiet, introverted person.
Coming here alone, I realize how very misguided I was. I found out how much I enjoy being around others, even if it’s just quiet company. I’ve found conversations that I can talk about for ages with others who enjoy the same things.Though I need time to myself, too much alone time can be far worse. Turns out, these are classic “characteristics” of an ENFP and an “introverted extrovert”; in other words, I’m shy and quiet, but get my energy from being around others. If you’ve never heard of Myers-Briggs, take a look down below, and even test yourself out if you’re curious:
Though the Myers-Briggs test has meandered into pop culture and away from its original intent (i.e., assessing one’s dynamic in a workplace setting), I gotta say it’s fairly spot on. You also can’t deny their enjoyable kitsch. A few memorable nerdy ENFP’s to which I’m affiliated: Arwen, Ron Weasley, Elsa, Professor X, Sue Storm, and Qui-Gonn Jinn. 🙂
- You will find your niche… Fatally set into the role of an ENFP, I hated knowing that there were tons of people all over SD I’d probably vibe with, but with no way of accessing them. So, after a few days of little to no conversation, I started scouring http://meetup.com for potential events that I’d actually enjoy and to possibly meet like-minded people.
Turns out San Diego has a thriving nerd culture that enjoy active lifestyles in their own right. On a Thursday night after a full week alone, I finally forced myself to drive 20 miles north to a science-oriented brewery out in Vista called Wavelength Brewing Company, where they were having an event about the solar eclipse. I ended up meeting my first friend in San Diego, and also scored eclipse glasses that saved my friends’ eyes as well as my own 🙂
For the first few meetups, I had to swallow the fear that it could be a complete bust. So far, I’ve gone to five meetups, and I don’t regret any of them. Not that I expected to become close friends with every single person you meet (and you won’t), but at least I started to feel like I was interacting with SD. Most importantly, not only have I met new people, but it’s forced me to be comfortable in showing who I am as a person.It’s still a work in progress, but I’m enjoying my slow introduction here. I’ve met other postdocs, looked at the stars, watched 80’s movies, colored self-affirming NSFK coloring books, attended concerts of aspiring recording artists, stumbled upon bands, and felt the sand under my feet this past month. For one who should be spending their time writing (research papers) under a rock, I think I’m doing fairly well 🙂