It's not. Actually, I thought it was growing up as all Californians do and I held this "value system" very close to my heart even throughout college, but I think I'm growing to learn this may not be as objectively true as I believed it to be. Fellow Californians and others who consider themselves to be West Coasters - don't be alarmed, if I still had to choose a side, I'd pick the West Coast of the United States over anywhere on Earth, but I think the argument could now be made for why the East Coast might be better. I'm doing an East Coast trip this week covering New Hampshire, Boston and New York (which technically isn't full representative of the entire East Coast as I'm considering the South to be part of this), which gives me somewhat of a right to make this comparison. For those wondering who are you to be worthy of making this argument - I'm technically not, as I went to school in rural Virginia for four years and lived in Chicago (kind of) for two, so I've actually never lived on the "real" East Coast. But, I've had my fair travel on this side of the country, both for fun and work, and most of my friends reside here. Although it's hard to say that living vicariously through others is enough to write a post on which coast comes out on top, I'd like to say amongst West Coasters, I'm somewhat knowledgeable in what the differences are. I know my Chicago is better than New York video caused some controversy - looking forward to how this post stands on top.
I want to begin by addressing what I used to think was the dumbest argument for why California (at least the southern part that I live in) wasn't the best - "at least we have seasons." This might be top 3 of phrases I genuinely didn't understand when I heard it from my friends during college, almost to the point where the frustration made me no longer want to engage in conversation with them. It's very hard to believe a normal human being would choose the existence of leaves falling from the sky over having 78 degree weather 365 days a year. Having gone through multiple winters in Virginia, which is not extreme in any measure, as well as a winter in Chicago, I still somewhat question this claim and believe it comes from a place of jealousy or stupidity (by stupidity I don't mean lower intellect, more hinting that they simply do not know as they have never experienced otherwise). However, I do think that byproducts of the existence of seasons supersedes many setbacks associated with the lack of them in Southern California, especially as it pertains to cultural norms and activity availability. It's without a doubt that a year, and possibly an entire life, in Southern California feels more like a very long day rather than a series of separate days or months as there seems to be no sense of beginning or closure. Blame evolution or historical upbringing, but there's something innate within human beings that associate themselves with cycles - much of our daily lives are tied to calendars, including school years and financial reports. Although SoCal does have its "winters" I can't help but admit that having very similar conditions throughout the year makes its inhabitants less driven, as closure and cycles promote a push towards the finish line and a refreshing start to the next race. Christmas season really doesn't feel like Christmas season and you can't dress in layers for most of the year.
Maybe the most upsetting and controversial statement of the post (and I somewhat apologize for this) - Southern Californians don't know how to dress up. I remember when I first went to college I wondered why everyone dressed like they were part of a musical - I quickly realized people were dressed to attend musicals while people from my hometown probably wouldn't be allowed into musicals if they dressed the way they did. I'm not one for fashion nor do I think apparel is necessarily essential to one's happiness - I do think it's very hard to say that streetwear t-shirts and gym shorts are the epitome of fashion or respect for those around you. I don't think this is anyone's fault - being 80+ degrees for half of the year, West Coasters don't really have a choice other than to dress in this fashion and prefer utility over flashy, which I also respect. Outside of the Newport Beaches of the world, I'd also say that this brings a reduced sense of pretentiousness in Southern California that is usually associated with the Big Apple or the Old Money South. In contrast, I do think that due to rising tensions (whether this is because insane rates in immigration - human beings are inherently bothered by getting what is "theirs" taken, let's be real here - or something else doesn't matter) in diverse areas, there's also a stronger sense of community in the East Coast. I'm not going to get into racial matters as that can be an entire post of its own, but there's something about the East Coast that makes it feel like "real America" - at least what's depicted by the movies. I have a strong inkling that if I had a flat tire in New Hampshire every single person driving by would stop and try to help, don't think that'd be the case in Irvine, California.
A large part of this very well could be that people are often fascinated by what they don't have and environments they're not used to. As mentioned above, I've never lived full time on the East Coast and have had a very prominent West Coast upbringing, so it's much easier for me to see the negatives of the West Coast and hear from my friends in the counterpart of the country bragging about what they have on their lands. Ironically, I have actually never heard anyone from Southern California complain about how they wished they lived on the opposite side of the country but have a long list of acquaintances dying to be where I am instead of their shoebox apartment in NYC. I'm not sure if this is also population bias and perhaps I become close to people with similar mindsets and interests, therefore attracting those that may be attracted to California - regardless, it does seem like sentiment is split all across the board.
I'll conclude with what might be rather obvious but not often said because of the context it brings - the "hub" for anything related to success and intellect, maybe outside of Silicon Valley, still resides on the East Coast. Hustle culture is amplified by NYC, most elite universities are in New England and surrounding areas, and although it may not be a measurement of objective intellect, the country's capital is in Washington D.C. It's hard to deny the level of human capital, at least at the current measurement standards of "success" still mostly resides on the East Coast. I do think that the new normal will shift such trends and we have already seen a lot of "emigration" into states like Colorado and Texas, but if I had to make a bet, this is probably more of a phase rather than a standard that is set to say. Regardless of the comparisons between the two coasts, it's hard to deny that both will continue to grow in attracting people and anyone that says otherwise ("everyone is moving out of California") just doesn't understand how to count.
I'm sure by the end of this week I'll dearly miss being able to dress in shorts on Christmas and my double double from In-N-Out, but I can't suppress the reality that there are prominent aspects of the East Coast that I now relate to more. West Coast best coast though.