The word ‘vibe’ has become popularized through various sources of media over the last decade. Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 hit single “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” is a prime example of Kendrick creating a connotation of the word. I didn’t initially realize how different the aura was in California compared to New England. After living bi-coastal for five years, however, it has become evident that each coast has its’ own vibe. In this blog I will expose the east and west coast cultural differences from my personal experiences, relationships and travels. The Venn diagram below breaks down my findings.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I became accustomed to the fast-paced lifestyle at a young age – how people walked, talked, drove and displayed their mannerisms seemed accelerated. People were walking with a purpose – as if they had somewhere they needed to be. I think that’s when I learned, ‘time is money.’ No one had time for slow drivers, slow conversations, or hesitation. It wasn’t until I came to the west coast that I experienced the contrast between the coasts. You truly need to be “fast on your feet” to survive the east coast mentality. If not, it can seem intimidating. People say what they mean and mean what they say. I was so entrenched in this idea. I never thought being straight-forward could be seen as negative, but I was in for a culture shock when I came to California.

When arriving in San Diego, I assumed it was normal to speak in a direct manner, use sarcasm to flirt, and walk (& talk) a mile a minute.

FLASHBACK to my first night out at San Diego State University where I met a guy who was basically Chad Michael Murray’s twin. I immediately poked fun at him all night and used my satirical jokes to impress him – showing I had some depth. The night’s coming to an end and just when I think he’s about to ask me out, he announces that he thought I was incredibly rude, and even worse, he didn’t think I was funny.

For the first few years, I felt a disconnect between me and my peers. I felt misunderstood. I had trouble making solid connections and relationships. I knew the importance of first impressions and started feeling uncomfortable when I heard people say, “Don’t mind her, she’s from the east coast.” Was I coming off as rude this whole time? Maybe I wasn’t meant for the west coast and the west coast wasn’t meant for me. 

I wanted to be surrounded by people who got where I was coming from; people who automatically understood my intentions; people who didn’t think I was born with a RBF.

I craved intimate conversations and searched for a code to crack the small talk. I immediately gravitated towards people from the east coast so it’s no surprise that my best friends in college were from there.

People would gawk at us as while we simultaneously held three different conversations going on. Three voices at the same time, and not one word was missed in the mix. Our brains were trained to speak and listen at the same time. It became apparent that people perceived us as obnoxious and over-the-top. “Can’t you guys just chill?”

I once felt the word ‘chill’ carried a negative connotation. I associated it with laziness, being unmotivated, lacking passion, and not caring for much of anything. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I started understanding the word differently.

Chill meant you didn’t let the negative moments in life affect your entire day. Chill meant you were easy-going and had a calm temperament. Chill meant you enjoyed the simple things in life and always had a reason to smile. After that epiphany, I became more acclimated to the California lifestyle. I found myself becoming more polite, friendly and influenced by everyone’s positive energy- and some might even say, more chill.

“You’re a ‘cali girl’ now,” my friends from Massachusetts kept saying. I had learned how to control my energy and adjust to the atmosphere. I felt a wave of relief when I could finally start calling San Diego my new home. And I realized home isn’t as tangible as I once thought it was. Home isn’t a building with a brown door and welcome mat. Home is where the positive vibes run wild. Home is where your heart longs to be. Home is where the soul is.

The vibes in California are the perfect recipe for happiness; while the vibes on the east coast are the perfect recipe for determination. After five years on the west coast, I can finally say that those two concepts can coexist. Just because my mind feels connected to the east coast, doesn’t mean my heart can’t feel connected to the west. I strongly advise my east coast homies to make a trip out to the west coast and for my west coast fam to travel the beautiful east coast.

Check out this BuzzFeed quiz to find out if you’re more of an east coast or west coast peep! Not surprised, I still got East Coast <3

Kayla Polgar

Kay Meets West is a place for me to share my experiences with others and hopefully create some inspiration along the way.

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