Tasha Reign: I’m a South County Princess

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Tasha Reign writes on www.ocweekly.com – I love Orange County, especially my hometown of Laguna Beach. Its comforting bubble of surf, sun, and sand shaped me, its experiences giving me the rose-colored glasses I freely admit to wearing through life.

I grew up believing that Laguna was a representation of communities everywhere, and that people just had a similar, or at least reflective, version of my childhood–call it naïveté if you want. I’ll even be more honest: I never traveled to the “bad” O.C. cities like Santa Ana or La Habra until after high school, cities that too many people in Orange County make fun of without ever experiencing them, because they simply weren’t part of my life.

Yep: I’m a South County princess, one of tens of thousands of girls who never went further north than Irvine or Corona del Mar.

For chrissakes, I dabbled as a high school cast member on the third season of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County in 2006, the ultimate documentary of the Laguna bubble, filming the sensationalized reality drama every weekend with my girlfriends. It was a truly special and strange experience that I would never take back–I found it to be natural and not as far-fetched as it probably was. More importantly, that show was the spark that made me want to be in front of the camera–and leave my precious bubble.

Feeling very comfortable, content and cozy in Laguna during my first 18 years, I nevertheless decided to head north in 2007 and explore the unknown. I had made a meager attempt in 2005 to try out the world by attending the Stevenson School, a prestigious private school in Northern California, but that was merely replacing one bubble for another.

Now, as a high school graduate, I knew it was time to mature, knowing that moving would be my next step into true adulthood. Laguna Beach gave me a certain skill set–a feeling of certainty and knowledge that I could do anything I set my mind to doing. That mindset programmed me to do the “right” thing like many other Laguna Beach High school students: graduate and then attend a university in hope of graduating and interning and getting an office job and so on and so on.

But upon moving to Los Angeles, I discovered that path wasn’t for me. A sociology class at Santa Monica College made me realize there were all types of people, broken up into various classes: cultural, socioeconomic, work, and even sexual.

The lectures taught me the necessity of critical thinking, of analyzing society, and being open to others: people, cities, and societies. Again, snicker if you must, but those revelations simply couldn’t happen in the South County princess bubble, where the bubble that makes you stick to your class and your class alone and makes you follow the same routine puts a chokehold on your worldview and development.

Don’t get me wrong: OC is my comfort food (grilled cheese from In ‘n’ Out, please!), but I realized upon arriving in Los Angeles that if I didn’t taste what else was out there, I would never fully comprehend the deliciousness, the abstractness, of the world. My surroundings would have chained me to a certain maturity level, stop me from growing and pushing myself to feel out of my element–the only way to truly develop as an individual.

That’s good advice for everyone, but this is for my fellow South County princesses: missing out on what else could be in the world for you just because it’s not in your bubble is the greatest loss a girl from anywhere can suffer. Nothing is more complacent than being content, and nothing is more disappointing to see a young woman become comfortable before living life.

Sure, settling down quickly sounds like fun, but it’s important to explore your options, especially nowadays when equal opportunities have never been more equal. Explore who you are as a person, what your interests may be. Take classes you might never have thought of taking, and make calculated risks. Question yourself but never let others affect what will ultimately make you happy and fulfilled. In the supposed words of Abraham Lincoln “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Pushing yourself daily, feeling outside of your element is the only way to create positive change in your life. The more you live outside of the bubble, the more you understand the ideal of equal opportunity and equal outcome, the more you realize that they’re important to society instead of just functioning as philosophical niceties.

And besides, leaving the bubble doesn’t mean rejecting the bubble for good. I love L.A.: this multicultural melting pot of a town broadens your horizons, enables people to reach their full potential. It’s where I am supposed to be right now in my life, and making me a better person.

But I’m proud to come from Laguna, love how comfortable I feel when I’m there, how routine everything is, the gorgeous beaches and boutiques and restaurants, my family and friends and, of course, my French bulldog Stitch. I will always have a place in my heart for it, and I know I will return some day–but now as a better person, as someone who can tell those who never left the bubble what’s on the other side, like Plato’s man in a cave. My Los Angeles time is making me better, and South County princesses: you should do the same.

Or, you can always move to SanTana…

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