Boca Raton, commonly known as the town where everybody's grandparents live. Also noted as wealthy, beautiful, and full of beaches. What can be wrong with a town like this? Weather is pristine, communities are gated, and shopping is plentiful. The food is excellent, a prime location for a foodie. Well, all these "perks" are actually what I consider downfalls.
A short disclaimer, this is not to say that I am not appreciative of the place I get to call home. These advantages, plus many more, are the reasons that I have the opportunity to write on a platform such as this. This does not mean, though, that I view Boca Raton the same as many of my peers do.
Moving to Washington D.C has definitely made me much more appreciative of how easy it is to live in South Florida. Consistently getting to wear shorts and a tank top is certainly a privilege, as I am realizing as I approach my first true winter. Traffic is light, and the rush hours at home are nothing compared to urban Washington. However, D.C natives possess this appreciation for the aspects that are truly taken for granted in Boca.
People that are not from Boca, or moved from other areas, say that the town full of opportunities and beaches is also a bubble. Although I never truly understood, I did believe these spectators hoping there was something more for me outside of this town. Turns out, there is an entire world to be discovered. What a shock!
As nicknamed the southern version of Long Island, New York, diversity is not something that is plentiful in Boca. My surrounding peers were very similar to me, being white, Jewish, and smart. Including me, everyone expects that they will attend college, receive a job, and become successful in life. Coming into a university where I am one of the only people from Boca, I was hit in the face with diversity. I realized, at this moment, that there is so much more to life then beaches and gated communities.
Around me, at home, some sensitivity training would do a lot of people a lot of good. These bubbles that Boca residents reside in are true, many fail to realize that declaring acceptance and acting accepting are completely different. I, admittedly, was one of these people. I had always learned about diversity but did not receive the chance to truly experience it until I left Boca Raton.
Learning to live with roommates who come from various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds really put me through my own version of sensitivity training. Becoming more conscious of how to particularly phrase ideas so that unintentional offense did not occur contained a steep learning curve, and how to transcend that to those back in Boca makes me feel like I am talking to a brick wall.
With music, it seems that everybody likes the exact same group of artists, with occasional variations. Hate to break it to you, but chances are a lot of those people were simply just putting on a show. Openly disliking the mainstream music definitely affected my social life, as I did not "fit in" as well as those around me because I had no trouble sharing that much of this mainstream music is derogatory and offensive. And truthfully, I just do not see the appeal.
Again, this is not to say that I am ungrateful for Boca because, without it, I would not be sitting here writing this article today. What I mean to say, to residents of Boca, is that it is important to step outside your comfort zone, and understand that there is a whole world outside that really could not care less about your country club memberships or which gated community you live in. Take a minute every once in a while, and go to an area that is outside this bubble, talk to people who look different than you, and take in the unconventional similarities that you previously would not have discovered. Also, take advantage of the beaches and Town Center Mall, as we do not realize how truly lucky we are.
Finally, to those who helped me realize that there is a whole world outside of Boca Raton, Florida, thank you. To my parents that motivated me (even when I did not want it), thank you for reminding me that this outside world is worth discovering. And to the friends who have been outside of the bubble before me (you know who you are), thank you for reminding me that these "downfalls" are only truly downfalls if I do not transcend the opportunities given to me and apply them to the greater good.