Can you really have it all?
That’s the question I’ve been struggling to answer. This seems to be the topic of discussion with every close friend I have. This is a topic that gives me crippling anxiety and stress, and what’s even worse is the fact that this is all hypothetical.
Growing up in the Bay Area has really been a privilege. The Bay Area is so diverse and progressive, I’m glad that I was brought up in a really accepting area. What was even better was the fact that I pretty much grew up with all my family close by.
My mom has 4 sisters and 2 brothers. The eldest brother passed away long before I was born. That being said, all her siblings stayed relatively close in the San Francisco area, and the ones that didn’t were still less than a 60 minute drive away (without traffic). Nobody strayed too far from the house that started it all for the Cruz side. Everyone knew that house. My friends knew that house. When I went to Epiphany, “Mama’s House,” as it was known to us, was located right across the street. When my cousins and I attended the school, that is where we chilled for a couple hours until our parents picked us up. And every Sunday after the 1 o’clock mass, we would meet up at Mama’s for lunch. Growing up, a majority of us were there for 6 days out of the week.
Every Sunday was a potluck. People bought food, some would make it, either way, there was always food for everyone to eat. It was basically a small party every Sunday. This was our tradition. Every birthday, life event, and celebration took place at Mama’s.
My dad has 4 sisters and 3 brothers. Their youngest sister died during child birth along with my grandma. 2 of my uncles and their families live in Vegas and visit yearly, but the rest of my dad’s siblings have stayed in the Bay Area the whole time since coming from the Philippines. San Francisco is where it all got started for the Cabillos, and they did not venture far from the city that they called “home.”
When my grandma passed away during childbirth, my dad’s eldest sister took charge as the mother figure. My great-grandfather (my grandma’s dad), after serving America in World War II, got all his children and their families to San Francisco. My aunts and uncles started their new life in the Bay Area. Growing up, their family and each other are all they had. Though they went through tragedy losing their mother, they stuck together and looked out for one another to make sure they all were good. The absence of my grandma really made my dad’s side take “family is everything,” to a whole other level. This is the example I was brought up on.
My dad’s extended family is huge. Back in the day, the Tagle family was named the largest Filipino family in the Bay Area. My grandma that passed was the eldest of 10 children, and they each had a number of children themselves. Our family is big. How big? To the point where majority of us only see each other when someone passes away, and even then we really don’t know who came from which OG.
Given my family history, it’s safe to say that I come from a long line of San Francisco Bay Area Faithfuls. For the most part, we have never strayed too far from the nest, and we look to family for support and companionship. All roots come back to here.
This was also true when I was “looking” for colleges to attend. I put “looking” in quotations because…. was I even? Haha. I knew off the bat that I was going to go to community college to save money and figure out what to do with my life. Everyone was worried about acceptance letters, while I knew from the get that community college was the route I was going to take. I saw no shame in that at all. I saved my parents a shit ton of money, and I got to explore my interests with less stress of “figuring it out” on a time clock. SF State was the only college I applied to when transfering. I knew that going away for college wasn’t realistic. I wasn’t going to make my parents go into debt for an education I could get locally.
But let’s be real, I didn’t apply anywhere else because I was too scared to be anywhere else. The seed was planted in my head that I was going to attend college locally anyways. My parents didn’t believe in going away for college. To them, that’s what Americans do, go away for college and live on their own. But for us, Filipinos definately do not leave the nest until married – and even then you’re probably still living at home to raise your family around family. And that’s normal in our culture. I also didn’t really feel a need to move away for college because there was so much going on with my family. Someone was always having a baby, there was always something to celebrate, and I honestly didn’t want to miss out on anything. Especially with my Tatay. Right now he’s 96, to us that’s truly a living legend. He’s only getting older, and for that reason, the Bay is where I’ll stay… for now.
I’ve always considered myself Bay Area Faithful, the Bay till I die, this is home for life. But as I got older and realized how hard it is to grind, save up money, and learned the value of a dollar, it dawned on me: Can I even afford to live here? And this is the sad truth for a lot of us that grew up here. As I got older, the prices to live in the Bay just got higher, and higher, and unfortunately, higher. I realized that I’ll probably never be able to afford a house in the area I grew up in and planned to stay in.
Depending on my mood, this either makes me angry or sad. Angry over the fact that people that weren’t born and raised here are running us out of our own city, and sad that I most likely will need to make a new place “home.” I’m also sad over the fact that over the years, I’ve seen San Francisco evolve. And as much as I hate to admit it, it’s not the same. It has transformed into something unrecognizable almost. This isn’t the San Francisco I grew up in.
And that’s what feeds into my post-grad blues. Knowing that eventually, I most likely will need to relocate. Looking for jobs will be tough, do I look for jobs in the Bay Area or should I go somewhere I can afford? And how can I when this is the only place I know as home? With all my family, all my friends, everything that is me, is here. I always wanted to raise my children in the same area I grew up in, so we could share similar experiences and start another generation of Forever Faithfuls. But with the line of work I willingly chose, I feel like I’ll be all over the place. A journalist is constantly traveling, going from job to job to make a name for themselves, exposing themselves to new adventures and areas. The irony.
I’ve always pictured myself living close to home, close to my family. How I was raised, I was never under the care of someone that wasn’t related to me. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or what, but definitely in my family, they did not believe in random baby sitters. And that’s the beautiful thing of growing up with your family, your community is strong and your children build strong bonds with their cousins and other relatives.
We were always under the care of my grandparents. And at one point, my Tatay Jack was living with us. And that’s what I wanted to continue with my kids. I wanted to be so close that if anything came up I can pull up to my parents’ house and be like, “Can you watch them real quick I need to XYZ…” Or maybe even live at home and take over the bills and have my parents stay with me and my own little family. But how, if I move away? And that’s what terrifies me, not having my parents and family there to help support me. I was raised to trust nobody, and I feel that will project ten times more when I have kids, I won’t let just anyone watch them. But I don’t want to stay near just so they watch my kids, but more so be there for little and big moments in my kids’ lives. We drive each other crazy, but we were raised to be a close family.
FOMO is what keeps me here. Fear Of Missing Out. All the cousins I grew up with are still in the area. I see them often and we hangout when we have time. More so now that my cousins have kids, they want to do more family bonding outings, and I’m here for all of it, and I love it. When I picture myself moving, I picture myself missing all the little things. All the small get togethers at Tatay’s, every birthday party, football game, and random hangouts, I’ll be missing out on. And it really makes me sad as fuck. Especially since nobody in my family has really “left.”
If they moved from the Bay Area, it was a family decision, and their whole little family moved. I feel like it’s almost frowned upon to leave just to relocated solo. Well, that’s how my parents go about it atleast. For as long as I can remember, they have used the tactic of fear to have us reconsider moving away.
“Oh, you think you can live over there?”
“You think you can come back to the Bay Area once you leave? You won’t be able to afford it.”
“Over there is racist okay? The Bay Area is the best.”
I know they come from a good place, and deep deep down they’re afraid too. Afraid that we’ll go through with it, and all of a sudden we’re not all together anymore. And I know that their wish is for all their kids and their families to be close, just like how we were raised. So, they use fear of the unknown to have us reconsider. I know that they’re just trying to psych us out so we don’t follow through because they love us and want us close, but sometimes I wish they could just be real and accepting about it. Instead of trying to shut it down with the quickness, I wish they would just say that it would be okay if we were to move. Because their opinion and support matter to me.
“You know, when you say we can’t do something, I know you’re just saying it because you’re scared of us leaving,” I told my mom one day on the couch.
She smirked. She knows why they say what they say! 😂
But then there will be moments when she hits me with the, “It’s your life now. You get to choose,” type of rants. And not in a smartass way, but in a genuine, “I know I can’t tell you what to do anymore” way. This is not one of those “bahala ka sa buhay mo” moments. And then that shit makes me sad too! To know that my sisters and I are at the age where we are about to establish our lives. With time, one of us will move out, and all 5 of us living together will be a thing of the past. And it makes me mad depressed. I’m a bright young lady. I know that nothing stays the same and change is inevitable, and sometimes necessary. But why does it make me so sad? I think it’s the fact that I know that I can never get these moments back. Life keeps moving, it waits for no one. And either I go through with my life, and start building my own life, or I’m 45 and at home.
This is a topic that gets me and Christian beefin’. The topic of settling down and moving away. To him, he wants to move away together as soon as possible to get our lives started. He always says if I want a family and a career I need to act now because the longer it takes for us to get established, the longer it takes for us to be independent and build the life we want. And he’s right. But in all honesty, we come from 2 different worlds. I see his points, I know what he’s saying makes sense and is a no brainer. But our upbringings are so different. It’s hard for him to understand the importance of family in Filipino culture and how we don’t stray far from the group. Which he would be okay with, if the Bay Area wasn’t so ridiculously expensive.
From an outsider’s perspective, he doesn’t see what I see in the Bay Area. He just sees the cost of living here and doesn’t think it’s worth it. And honestly, if I was an outsider I’d think the same thing! I’m an insider and I think the cost of living here is a joke. But I grew up here, a part of me refuses to give up the fight and move away. But is it even worth it anymore? To bust my ass and not have much to show for it but a tiny apartment that would buy me a multiple story house somewhere else?
I’m so afraid to leave the Bay Area, how much more California? But this is all I’ve known my whole life, how will I know this is the destination I want to end up in permanently if I never go anywhere else? It’s one of those things where you know what you got to do, but you cant muster up the courage or balls to do it. Sometimes I feel like it’s a decision between living comfortably and alone away from family, or struggling to stay in the same area, and never saving enough money to live the life I want to live.
A little while after my graduation, my mom told me, “Fly high, follow your dreams.” And that made me wonder, how high is high? If I follow my dreams and it leads me far from the family, is the dream still worth it? Should I still follow it? How high am I flying if I limit myself to only San Francisco? How do I know what path to follow?
The running joke of journalists is that we sometimes put ourselves in harm’s way, yet the public hates us/ we don’t get paid well. When I told my dad that the job I’m at now probably pays more than a starting writing job, he asked why I picked this field. 🤣 He then told me to take the test to work a government job like my mom. He explained that it may not be my dream, but atleast if I put in the years, I’ll be set for retirement after with a lot of benefits. I was almost offended that he would suggest that. But I understand that he wants me to play it safe for my future, because it’s a guaranteed set living. My field terrifies him, just like it terrifies me. Either I make it, or I don’t make it and get paid “peanuts.” But I’m willing to take that risk. I’d rather try and fail, then settle and forever wonder. I need to feel this way about moving too haha.
One time at dinner I asked my cousins if I should try to stay in the Bay Area or try to move away. Almost right after I asked the question at the same time they said “Go!”
“I wish I did, and now I’m old.” My cousin had said.
While my other cousin had a completely different view. I was venting to her about my pros and cons and she hit me with the, “Well, which one is more important to you?” Aka, my dreams or family. Damn. That hit hard. And I realized, nobody can have it all. To follow my dreams will cost me. And to stay for my family could likely cost me my dreams. And it’s a tough decision to make.
I did an Instagram poll asking people if living close to family is important, if they want to raise their family where they grew up, if they would move to achieve a dream, etc etc. Majority of people said living close to family is really important, but also said they they would move away to follow their dreams. A little over half of voters said that nobody can have it all. That “having it all” doesn’t exist.
I do agree that having it all is a mindset. But at the end of the day nobody can have it all. You have to rank what you want and what’s more important. But also, everything is circumstantial, and things come in steps. You never get everything you want all at once. You have to work for it. A friend of mind explained it well saying that we will never have it all because we will always want more, with new goals and achievements being set for ourselves.
So this is my little rant of what’s currently stressing me out. I have no solution for it. And honestly sometimes it makes me feel like I’m adopting American ways where self is more important than the group. And I don’t know how to feel!
Just recently I went to New York, and I was in complete awe with the city. It was a place where I could picture myself living. I just know wherever my career takes me, I need to take the chance. And if I end up back in the Bay after being successful, then so be it!
How high is flying high? I guess I have to find out.