10 Life-Changing Things You Can Learn From Californians


1. Relax, it’ll get done

No, really, it will. The prevailing notion of Californians is that they’re laid back and chill and “call my people, we’ll do lunch.” This is true. And there is beauty in this. Do not rush a Californian when they have to make a decision or need to turn something around for you. They will do it, and it will happen, and it will be glorious.

This is an extreme example, but part of the reason why New Yorkers especially clash with Californians is that, beyond the three hour time difference and the whole being on opposite coasts thing is that New Yorkers are all about getting stuff done, like, yesterday. There is merit to this, but honestly, there is nothing wrong in taking some time to go through the big decisions like signing a lease on your apartment or choosing what exactly you want to do with your life — lots of waiters aren’t just waiter slashes [insert creative type here] in California, they’re just trying to figure out what they want to be at all.

Take your time deliberating over your life choices if you can. It’s fluid. It’s less stressful. It also gives you time to think things over during yoga.

2. Have a strong sense of your roots

If ever there was a type of human being that deserved the “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!” punch line, a Californian would be it. We love interjecting when we hear somebody mention our home state — or better yet, our hometown. Really, it’s the freakiest Spidey sense known to mankind, but if anyone mentions California at a party, we will make a beeline and drop knowledge on our new BFF. (And if a song so much as mentions California once — let alone devotes the entire title to it — it will be most Californians’ “Omg, this is my sonnggg!” for the next forever.)

(Here’s some helpful tunes to get you started.)

Wherever you’re from, own it. Try to educate as many people as possible without veering into the realm of the gratingly one-sided. But own your pride. Get a phone case emblazoned with your state flag. Sing along to any song that even so much as mentions something from your state. Wax nostalgic about everything you miss as much as humanly possible. Keep an alert out for cheap flights, and beg your parents to send you food from your home state. Even if the quality might wane in transit. Damn it, hometown glory is worth it.

3. No, I mean, an EVEN STRONGER sense of your roots

California is a huge state. It is gigantic. It is ginormous. It also splits very distinctly into two factions: Northern California and Southern California. Weirdly, a very easy way to spot people from each region lies in the fact that Northern Californians are much more likely to say that they’re from NorCal, while Southern Californians will stand by which specific city they live in. (Whether or not these two factions will ever actually separate into two distinct states is yet to be proven. We elected Schwarzenegger as a governor. Porn stars regularly run for spots as Congressional representatives. There are weirder things that have happened on our ballots.) And when they go abroad, Californians will say they’re from California, not the U.S.

This is pride, turned way up. This is not only acknowledging that your upbringing gave you a very concrete idea of who you are as a person and your place in the world, but that other people should embrace this side of you if they want to understand you at your most fully realized self.

4. “Do lunch”

“Doing lunch” is to Californians what “We’ll get drinks!” is to everyone else. It is all at once the ultimate in politely side-stepping away from an acquaintance you’d rather not actually catch up with at that one awards show party, and the promise of something great on the horizon. Doing lunch signifies that you two can collaborate, that there may be something in the works, that one of you will gloriously be able to front the bill on a company card. Really, it is the laid-back answer to afternoon tea, in which you can fritter away two hours’ of the middle of the day, and then, oh, look! Time to go to spin class.

5. Don’t freak out when people are famous

What’s cooler than knowing somebody famous? Not caring that you know somebody famous. And for the love of all things holy, don’t namedrop if you can possibly help it. Nobody is impressed by the fact that you know somebody who knows somebody who knows Kevin Bacon. Everyone knows Kevin Bacon. That’s why the six degrees of separation game exists. What’s more impressive to a Californian is that you can see and meet these people and keep your cool when confronted with extreme beauty and/or pressure. Of course the dude behind you in line at Starbucks is on HBO. People who star in HBO shows need their coffee, too. They text, breathe, walk, talk, and get groceries like everyone else in the world.

(Except maybe Beyonce. But she’s exempt. You are allowed to freak out when you meet Beyonce. She’s Beyonce.)

6. Spend as much time outside as you can

Whether it’s on a weekend hike or simply choosing to eat dinner out on the patio by the heat lamps, Californians almost prefer to get as much fresh air as humanly possible. We roll our windows down when we drive, we spend good money on furniture for the patio or the backyard, and even if you live in an apartment complex, there’s usually some sort of communal area where tenants can sit and listen to the birds chirping amidst the early morning smog. Science has proven time and time again that spending time outdoors is good for you, and I mean, if you can do it while you’re brunching, why wouldn’t you?

7. Wax nostalgic as much as possible

What would it be for California if we didn’t constantly refer to the way things used to be? Remember when gas was under $3 a gallon? Remember when Carmageddon happened and it was totally less traumatic than we thought it was going to be? (Remember when it was going to happen again?) Remember when your team made the playoffs? Remember when we all went to one of the eighty theme parks for Senior Night and it was OMG, like, so much drama and Chris kissed Kelly and you couldn’t even enjoy your churro even more?

In part because California is a relatively new state — and save historical landmarks, one of the hallmarks of our cities and towns is that we’re always tearing down older buildings and replacing them with newer, sleeker versions — we seem to want to preserve memories when we can’t preserve favorite restaurants and neighborhoods. California will always be in a constant state of flux. As such, the denizens of the state have the #tbt game locked down.

8. Those funky healthy things are actually pretty good for you

I mean, granted, my mom still makes a face every time I drink something that is, what she calls, “a violent shade of Nickelodeon slime” but every so often, I catch her perusing kale at the grocery store and I do a little victory dance. Californian hippie culture runs deep, and it runs rampant. Not everyone in this state is a vegetarian — make the drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and you will smell the burger farms miles before you see them — but most restaurants are beginning to source local or organic, or at least include some sort of produce component. (Do we wash these things down with the kind of Mexican food that would clog an elephant’s arteries? Yes, but really. It’s all about balance.)

9. The unspoken rules of a society are the ones that matter most

The California roll is the ultimate in the state’s YOLO mentality when it comes to the fluidity of rules, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Californians will turn anything they possibly can into an Issue, taking firm stances on the “Cali” — I just shuddered writing that — debate, and having personal preferences and biases against area codes. Californians know where they stand on all things at all times. We live for the cross-town rivalry and Los Angeles/San Francisco divide (hell, even the Northern vs. Southern California thing) just so we can take a stance to begin with. What is life except conflict?

… brb, writing a screenplay about this.

10. When in doubt, blame things on traffic

Because nobody will ever, ever learn that yes, it often takes more than 20 minutes to get somewhere. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer. Editor. Twitter-er. Instagrammer. Coffee drinker. (Okay, mostly that last one.)

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