…Since arriving in San Francisco to visit a week ago, I’ve walked around with a deep feeling of nostalgia, gratitude, and warmth. Everywhere I walk, I’m reminded of all the incredible people who touched my life, believed in me, and taught me how to come into my own while I lived here in 2009 and 2010. San Francisco—and the people here—transformed me. They taught me confidence in my ideas, beliefs, and dreams.
As I wander the city, catching up with old friends and stopping by my old favorite places, just to breathe in the profound impact the place had on my life, I’m able to feel how connected everything really is. I’m able to see how the many small conversations, realizations, and acts of kindness in 2009 have manifested into big life choices, cross-country moves, and business decisions up until today. My journey toward deep fulfillment began actualizing here, in San Francisco. It began here because of the incredible people and their profound ability to teach me how to live and realize my truth, and be confident in my pursuit.
Back when I was here in 2009, I was unclear on what fulfilled me and how I wanted to spend my time. This lack of clarity took me to New York, Barcelona, and Boulder. Each place—and the people there—helped me gain clarity on the world I imagine.
Paul Graham said in his essay about cities that unless you’re sure what you want to do and where the leading city for it is, your best bet is to live in several places when you’re young. You can never tell what message a city sends until you live there. You won’t know whether its message will resonate with you until you hear it. And you’ll probably have to find the city where you feel at home to know what sort of ambition you have.
The benefit of moving around, of trying new cities, of meeting new groups of people, is that you expose yourself to seeing, feeling, and experiencing the answers. We cannot think our way to understanding the work we’re meant to do—we must experience it. We cannot analyze ourselves to the point of clarity—we must reflect and share with people who care. We cannot talk our way into feeling confident—we must learn through trial and error.
Through the discovery and realization process, a little time and a little energy goes a long way. Whether you’re texting someone you miss them, talking a challenge out with a friend, committing to 750words.com each day, or helping a stranger collect his loose papers on the street, our little actions lead to bigger impact, collectively and over time. When you touch the heart of one, they touch the heart of another. When you help someone gain clarity on a challenge, they gain insights they’ll use moving forward. It’s all connected. We’re all connected. And we’ll never forget the people and places that help us connect our dots forward.