Updated: Mar 12, 2021
This was hands down, one of the best experiences of my life so far. *mic drop.*
As someone who got so burned out on having three roommates in college for two years that he now lives alone, I've got to say that having around 24 roommates for a month is an adventure that everyone should expose themselves to. I was originally only planning on staying for two weeks, but it quickly became apparent that what was happening here was something I needed to be immersed in as long as possible. I knew four people before coming, and I would now consider each of the 30+ individuals that passed through the house a close confidant who I could rely on in a time of need. Before I tell you more, I should probably explain the why.
Friends for life, made in a month.
A group of friends and entrepreneurs put together a co-living, co-working, and co-creating (bear with me on the co's, there will be many) experiment in San Diego this past month. Like any group of entrepreneurs, they saw a need, and filled it.
The need? Flourishing.
Yes I know, it sounds as pie-in-the-sky, free spirit, and idealistic as can be but after living here for a month, there's no other way to fully capture the experience. I can't exaggerate the amount of personal development that can be achieved when you live with a large group of your peers that are also committed to improving themselves and working on creative projects alongside you.
Dinner for 20+ was always an undertaking.
It's no secret that we've all been isolated and even lonely this past year. Zoom is an amazing invention, but it hasn't been able to fully replace in-person human interactions, especially when it comes to co-living. With the Co-Creation Castle, or CCC, human interactions are turned up to 11. We eat together, workout together, work alongside one another, and everyone has anywhere from one roommate to nearly a dozen.
Shoutout to BeeThrive.
I'm sure at some point in the last few paragraphs, you thought about the elephant in the room: COVID. As I arrived, it definitely weighed heavily on my mind. Here I was breaking quarantine to live with two-dozen other strangers flying in from the across the country. My thin fabric mask felt more like a flimsy security blanket than something that might actually prevent the spread of the virus in what on paper looks like a high risk environment. However, we took ample precautions.
Before we even arrived, every co-creator self-quarantined and avoided "risky behaviors" for a two week period prior to our flights. The week before, everyone sent in their PCR COVID test results, which had to come back negative in order to get cleared for housing. On arrival, everyone stayed masked at all times when indoors for the first 72 hours. Once we cleared that window, we ordered At-Home Pixel Tests to the Airbnb and waited another 24 hours for test results. If those results came back negative, then we finally were able to unmask. There's tons of details and planning that went into this policy, and it perhaps cannot be better explained than by the TikTok of one of our Co-Creators, @Jacksonofalltrades. Check him out, and don't get used to me recommending TikToks.
Shortly after arrival, it became apparent to many of us that our social skills had atrophied somewhat. Going from living mostly by myself in a one bedroom apartment to living in a compound with a small army was overwhelming to say the least. I found myself tripping over my words, and far more awkward than I remembered being in most previous social situations. The more I learned about my new housemates and their successes, the more insecure I felt about my own. To make matters worse, at the beginning of my second week in the CCC, I was let go from my job.
In addition to my social skills, I had also been slacking on my mindfulness habits and subsequently maintaining my mental health, so overthinking was rife. Just as this dark cocktail of mental anguish was beginning to really stew, I uncovered one of the best parts of living at the CCC: group accountability.
I've devoted a lot of this blog to discussing habits, and that's because they're often one of the most difficult aspects of my life for me to maintain. I'm not a very ordered or regimented person by nature, but I can see the deep value of discipline so I'm constantly striving to implement more of it into my life. Maintaining the lifestyle I want is far easier when I'm surrounded with people doing the same thing.
Morning Meddies in action.
I quickly got back into the habit of daily meditation and journaling through our daily "Morning Meddies." It's exactly what it says on the tin, a group of co-creators get together each morning and do a group meditation from either Headspace, Waking Up, or even some group-guided meditations where we each took turns guiding the group towards a better mindset for the day. After each meditation session, we silently switched into a journaling session, sometimes with a prompt, and wrote out our thoughts. These two habits were crucial to me working through my insecurities from arriving at the house, and to opening me up to more life path possibilities after losing my job.
The most immediate change I noticed in myself from the start of the month to the end of the month was increased vulnerability. This wasn't just a matter of becoming more comfortable with the group, it was realizing that what was preventing me from speaking up and put my ideas out there were entirely internal struggles; my fears were imaginary. I was surrounded by friends going through similar conflicts and only by exposing myself to potential failure (even on something as small as contributing to discussions) would I move past this struggle and take on larger ones.
I don't think it necessarily takes living in a house full of empathetic, intelligent folk to realize this, but it sure does make it easier to find that inner strength. Now that I'm reaching the end of my stay, I can confidently say that I've found a path past overthinking that I've never found before.
The other major realization I have coming out of my month-long adventure in San Diego is that we put far too many constraints on our life paths. I didn't quit my job because I was more worried about finding a new one than I was about what the current one was doing to my wellbeing. I realized that I was capable of far more intellectually, spiritually, and creatively than I ever realized, newly inspired by my peers.
One of countless Jam Sessions.
I was operating under the assumption that your time is a zero sum game, that spending time on one activity increases your effectiveness in that one thing while reducing your effectiveness at all others. Like say, thinking and working entirely on your job at the cost of keeping up with theatre, or continuing to learn an instrument, or picking up sports and focusing on your physical health. What I fundamentally believe after living here is that these spheres of life do not contradict one another, rather they augment your ability to perform in each.
My fellow co-creators did not excel in only one sphere or a few, they excelled in all of them. Their ability to provide in depth financial analysis on why you should pick a certain stock one moment to switch to dropping an immaculate freestyle rap the next has convinced me that the idea that we should specialize is a limitation, and that you should "focus" on improving the whole self rather than on specific aspects, and that unexpectedly, you'll find better results than if you had settled for one.
The final realization I had in staying in San Diego, was that I'm no longer tied down to a particular place, and I've opted in to trying my hand at van life for the next few months. I intend to seek more experiences like this in the future and more people willing to co-create meaningful ideas, and hopefully find out a little more about what we're all doing here on this beautiful blue planet. I look forward to sharing my future adventures, and I'd like to thank the CCC for opening my eyes to a world of possibilities! Stay sunny, San Diego.