How a Disney Movie Helped Me Understand Moving to Silicon Valley

“I miss Minnesota.”

Those words uttered by the main character during the climax of the Inside Out movie resonated with me as the pending tears dripped down my face, and likely into my last handfuls of popcorn. A huge animation fan and even bigger supporter of Disney, the storyline, message, and character development of Inside Out spoke to me like an echo of my own story.

Brice and I on our recent trip to Yosemite National Park

One of our first vacations after we moved, to Yosemite National Park

In 2012, my partner and I packed up our Jeep, said tearful goodbyes to our family and headed west to Silicon Valley, California. Brice had accepted a job with Apple and we were on our new adventure to grow our careers and life together. I never imagined the emotional journey that I was about to embark on- I thought it would be all Instagram #foodporn posts and iPhones raining from the sky. Nope.

Instead, I felt so alone and alienated as I entered the foreign land of Silicon Valley. It is one of the most diverse, expensive, and tech-rich regions of the United States. “You should need a passport to come here,” I mentioned to Brice as we settled in our new apartment. No one wanted to talk about the weather. People didn’t have the same warm-fuzzies when greeting each other. And what the heck was with all of the abandoned shopping carts?

Slowly, I began to adjust. My “core memories” from Minnesota were touched with sadness while I struggled to create new ones. Brice and I started a hiking group and I learned to somehow move my body 10 miles through giant Redwood and Sequoia trees. I began to appreciate the accessibility of having my lunch delivered to my door and someone to valet my car anywhere within San Francisco with the touch of a button. I recently did a Global Float Silent Disco.

It hasn’t been easy, but I created new “friendship islands” and while watching Inside Out, I was able to finally feel acceptance that, no, I wasn’t alone in my journey through this transition. It was an invaluable moment of clarity that hit me in the stomach like a steel-toe boot. Sometimes to keep moving forward, what we need is validation. That we aren’t alone and the outcome will be better than we ever could have expected.

Fast forward to 2015.

Fast forward to 2015.



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