First of all, I would just like to go on the record and say how much I truly love the Bay Area, and how lucky, blessed, and privileged I am to have grown up there. I am well aware of how fortunate I am to have come from a beautiful, safe, and clean area with lots of opportunities to become someone. I definitely don’t want it to come off that I am forgetful of this at any point in this article.

That being said, since moving to a completely different area with a completely different culture for school, I have had a hard time returning to my hometown. To specify, I am from a little town called Menlo Park, California. My house was five minutes from Stanford campus in Palo Alto, and Facebook was down the street from my house.

I was raised in a competitive, tech-based area that I never truly fit into.

Throughout my whole life, I have been a very passionate person. I really, truly care about the things that are important to me, and I always put my best foot forward when I want to tackle a new obstacle. I am independent, confident, and worthy of any challenge, and this has definitely been proven through my academic, professional, and social achievements. I definitely thank the Bay Area for making me this way.

When it comes to school, I’m the kind of person who absolutely loves learning, but kind of hates putting in the work. Since coming to college and getting deeper into my major, this has changed a lot due to the content actually interesting me, but in high school, I had a hard time finding motivation. I almost never did my math homework, I let my group members do the experiments in science class, and I had a hard time staying awake in history lessons. While I still managed to pass all my classes (usually with an A or a B), this wasn’t enough for the pressures of the Silicon Valley.

Somehow, I never really let the pressures get to me. I knew I was going to end up at a four-year college that I would be really happy attending (check!), I knew I would find the major I felt most confident in (check again!), and I knew I would find people just like me who think and work the same (check, check, check again!). This is why I never truly understood why kids in my grade were crying over rejections from certain schools, or why some of my peers even dedicated their whole high school career to get into some crazy, hard school in the first place.

Putting this kind of pressure on yourself seemed so unnecessary to me, and I wasn’t one to sacrifice my entire life for a 4.8 GPA.

It wasn’t until I had lived in Eugene for a few months that I realized that my friends from home weren’t doing this to themselves, but the suffocating area around us was causing this type of stress.

The Bay Area is constantly developing and making advancements in tech, medicine, business, journalism, and more, and there is no time for breathing or relaxing. Every time I come home, there is some new start-up where my favorite restaurant used to be, some new health fad that everyone is trying, and some new technology that you can’t seem to escape (like literally, I couldn’t escape the security robot that followed me around at the Stanford Mall).

It was no wonder my peers felt such a pressure to perform and achieve so much before they even turned 18.

While I am an extremely proud product of the Bay Area (go Warriors, baby!), I don’t see myself ever really living there again. This is partially due to the fact that I’ll probably never be able to afford it again, but also because I can’t move back to such a high-stress area.

Again, I am so incredibly fortunate to have grown up in this safe and beautiful area, but as I have grown to love a more relaxed community, I have learned that the Bay will probably just be my favorite place to visit to remember where I came from.