Our Life

The LA Transplant

By Julia Rohrabaugh

I moved to Los Angeles just over a month ago from a small town in Northern California. I’m what the Angelenos call a ‘transplant,’ someone who has recently moved to LA. My Nor Cal roots are in the central foothills, a very different environment to So Cal. We have rolling hills and one-lane roads, where here there are 8-lane freeways and desert land. Traffic here is a topic of daily conversation, so much that they call their freeways by name—The 10, The 405, The 101—and this is just the surface level of contrasts. In the beginning, my life felt surreal, like this big move was temporary arrangement, or a dream. I didn’t feel home yet, and as impatient as I am for security, this frustrated me.

Moving to a new place where I hadn’t established myself was an unknown feeling. I could be whoever I wanted, really. There are so many different people in LA, and so many different cultures, so you can be different without stress, or an explanation. It was freeing. After the initial excitement of the city faded, thinking about this also makes me sad. Feeling freedom when surrounded by people who I don’t know, those don’t know me? I did not come to LA as an escape from previous experiences, but it was then I became aware of how unhappy I must have been up north. I realized the amount of pressure I felt to do and act in ways that conflicted with who I felt I was or what I wanted to do with my life, my career, and my time. The fear of imperfection and judgment was debilitating. As a result, I avoid intimate relationships in fear that letting someone get to know me will reveal my flaws.

Going back up north for the Thanksgiving holiday made me feel the permanency of my move to LA. While I was home, I realized how the city had affected my mental health. With only five weeks in LA and I felt calmer talking to family members, sure of my decisions, and confident in my future. I wasn’t scared to talk about my ideas, job prospects, or what I’ve been doing with my friends. Without fear in my mind, I had the capacity to think and converse better. I was more secure of myself than I can remember. Driving south on The 5 finally felt like going home.

It’s said that during the holiday season we are more giving and less judging of people. I challenge you to ask yourself why this is only seasonal. How do you treat the people you love during this season, and how does it compare to the way you treat them all year round? Check your relationships, and communicate. Do not give up on these people, but forgive them for their mistakes. Understand, because they really are just trying to do the best they can, the same as you. Our struggles may be different, but the emotions are the same, and that is something we all have in common. No matter how far away you are, you can always talk to someone. There is no reason to wait, because what really are you waiting for? Don’t wait to become a transplant in an unknown city to figure out you haven’t been fair to the ones you love.