Photo: Aleksei Potov/Shutterstock

6 Things Growing Up in California Has Taught Me

by Anne-Marie Pietersma Sep 11, 2017

1. A little patience goes a long way.

Everyone knows how much LA traffic sucks. But as annoying as it may be, growing up with insane driving conditions prepares you for a lot. Especially in a growing world of instant gratification, learning how to wait was a pretty great skill to learn. And beyond that, being stationary in the depths of hellish traffic forced me to choose how I want to respond in stressful situations. Do I freak out? Try and find a solution? Go with the flow? I get to decide. There are few things more awkward than being in a car with someone going through all the phases of road rage, which are:

1. Blind anger.

“This damn Hyundai Sonata did not just cut me off! GTFO THE ROAD SONATA”

2. Sadness and life contemplation.

“I should’ve left earlier. Maybe this is a sign that I should change jobs after all…”

3. Need for vengeance.

“Ugh, I knew it. They have an Arizona license plate. I’m going to tailgate this Hyundai Sonata until it realizes everything it’s done to me.”

4. Prayers to the road gods.


5. Acceptance.

I don’t know what this sounds like because I’ve never seen it happen.

There’s a good chance that how you handle road rage is how you handle other stressful things in life. Practice makes perfect. And we Californians get a lot of practice.

2. Fresh and local is always best.

Growing up in such an agriculturally vibrant state means fresh fruit, veggies, meat, and dairy everywhere. There’ are a certain joy and pride that come from knowing where, or even who your food comes from. You get to support your neighbors and help your community thrive while getting the benefit of the freshest food available.

3. Access to different cultures is the key to understanding others and yourself.

I am more and more thankful every day that I grew up in a multicultural area. By being in a diverse area and constantly being exposed to different cultures, I learned much about what makes people unique but unified. Something as simple as experiencing different kinds of food can give you a little window into a whole world that may be unfamiliar. Sharing food can give us an automatic connection with another person. From tacos in Venice Beach to curry dishes at the Oakland Museum, California food trucks cover pretty much every cuisine. Even if I tried something that didn’t quite jibe with me— I experienced it. I tasted flavors that carry a lot of history, on a street with a bunch of other people that wanted the same thing, no matter where they came from— good food.

4.Trying to remain unchanged is a lot of work and is impossible.

The cool thing about nature is that it’s always changing and adapting. And the scary thing about nature is that it’s always changing and adapting. There has been a lot of work done to keep the National Parks open to preserve some of the most beautiful parts of our country. The history and experience of National Parks taught me that trying to preserve and maintain the essence of something and trying to forbid change to that thing are very different, in nature and in people. Parks aren’t immune to disaster, but we protect them in the face of it. We do what we can to minimize damage, then clean up after the fires and storms we can’t control and carry on so more people can experience the bountiful beauty that still exists. Sounds like a good game plan for the rest of my life.

5. People can find common ground in their differences.

Blind loyalty to In-N-Out isn’t just a way of life — it’s a holy thing. I love loving In-N-Out. Beyond me truly believing in how amazing the food is, and the wonderful hometown memories that come with it, it’s fun to fight for. Because, at the end of the day, if some plebian tries to express any minute disappointment with In-N-Out, I can make my case for a long time, but always rest assured that I’m right. The best debates are when you get to go head-to-head and connect with someone that is equally obsessed with their home state’s cult food. If you can have a fun, yet heated dialectic with someone from Texas about Whataburger in defense of In-N-Out and still be friends after, you’ll get far in life. Which is why I think allegiance to this local fast-food chain is at an all-time high. What could be a better team to get behind than fresh quality ingredients, family business, and the delicious smells of nostalgia? Nothing.

6. It’s never too late to start over.

California has been home to some of the nation’s most damaging fires. When I was in elementary school, there was a fire so bad and so close, that we couldn’t play outside because of the ash in the air. Homes were lost, miles of brush and forestation were charred to a crisp, which lead to mudslides later. But, now when I go home I see new houses have been built. There is a completely different set of flora and fauna in places that were once barren. It took a while, but everything has started fresh. Even where there seemed to be nothing, there is now a new beginning.

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