“Midwest kindness” is definitely an active term on the East and West Coast. I moved to the West Coast three years ago, and I quickly learned that these people live a bit differently. Everyone has somewhere to go, and no one will stop them from getting there. It sounds a bit intimidating, but once you get into the swing of things, it turns into adrenaline.
This look is made up of garments that hold memories of growing up in Wisconsin. I’ve had this sweater since middle school, and I’ve styled it as the times go on. Antiques are more common in Wisconsin than vintage clothing, but this dress was a hidden gem… literally. I was in La Crosse, WI, and this huge antique shop was in the middle of downtown. On a rack in the basement corner, it was hidden between two military jackets. I also had a massive Converse collection in middle school. Needless to say most were not pretty. I kept the basic black, red, and white sneakers. I was happy to take some of my favorite pieces with me to California.
When you are debating moving to bigger cities, there are some things you should know before you get there. Here they are:
Never wave on a car instead of walking first.
- They will look at you like you’re insane and get angry. Yes, angry. City drivers are more aggressive, and they just want to get to where they’re going. They don’t want to play the back and forth game of crossing before you because it’s a rarity, uncommon. Take the luxury of being the pedestrian with the right of way and move along.
Waving to cars as a thank you is strange.
- When cars to have a choice of stopping or going in smaller parts of the city, they sometimes let people cross before they go. Once you see their hand waving you on, know that returning the gesture is odd. Waving is saved for flagging people down and greeting friends. It is a pleasant surprise to the drivers when it is done! Think of it this way: Why would you wave at someone who you don’t know?
Zip the lips
- Causal conversation on a park bench with a stranger is the thing of the past. Headphones are a big signifier that people are enjoying some “me time”. They don’t engage in light conversation with people unless they have to, and if someone starts a conversation its usually to ask for money, sell something, or say something weird/inappropriate. Unfortunately the frequency of that has given casual, polite conversation a bad reputation.
- If you bump into someone in the street or at a store, just give a slight wave or ‘sorry’. Don’t apologize and ask if the person is okay unless the matter permits. Don’t gently place a hand on their shoulder or bicep and say I’m sorry. I learned that quickly, it also doesn’t help your situation!
Everyone isn’t looking out for you.
- You are really on your own. If you drop something, the person may not pick it up or keep it for themselves. There are plenty of good people in cities. With a higher number of people, there is more room for unkindness. It makes them a bit harder to come by.
When a car pulls up by you, have your guard up.
- I remember running down this side-street by my house and having a man pull over in his red pick up. He rolled down the window, and wanted to make sure I was doing okay and told me to watch for cars. People wave to runners while mowing the lawn. If a car pulls over to you in the city, you can either see what they want or just keep going.
Grocery store chaos
- Have a list when you go grocery shopping or look online at the products the store carries ahead of time. In more populated areas in general grocery chains, people don’t like to stop and look at their options. I now understand why they made a dance move called “The shopping cart”. You walk by and grab what you need.
Open road blues
- Taking your car for a relaxing drive isn’t a hobby in popular cities. Open roads really don’t exist until you get to the outskirts of the outskirts of town! Bring your patients with you because the traffic will be an experience in itself.
Highway exits don’t lead to stores.
- During high school, I had a job at the local Target and Michaels. They were both one turn off of the highway exit. That system isn’t in place here. You will typically have to drive an extra 5-10 minutes to get to the store listed on the designated exit sign on the highway. Always make sure to pack accordingly and bring snacks!
If you are looking for a job or education in a creative field or are looking for something with a little more energy, I would suggest moving to one of the Coasts. It will refresh your mind, get you moving, and you can always move back.
Moving to the city from a small town can be a big deal. You will be surrounded by all walks of life. There are so many beautiful opportunities to experience. It teaches you to be more aware and to judge what really matters. These things are just tips to be aware of so they don’t take you by surprise. They aren’t as gruesome as they sound 😉 .
Photography by Sofía Hernández. Follow her brand and Instagram.