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When I moved to Los Angeles, a friend told me, “You’ll hate it until you love it.” And I scoffed.

What secret love was there to find in one of the biggest and most popular cities in the world? Just like every late night comedian says, it *was* full of traffic, it *did* take forever to get anywhere, and that “fog” wasn’t really fog. How could there be hidden gems when everything had already been found and Instagrammed?

Then I wandered into the random bar around the corner from my house and it turned out to be the home of world famous Korean burritos—it’s a real thing, Google it. I eventually stumbled onto what ended up being my favorite not-over-crowded trail behind JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab, for those not in the know). And sometimes I even enjoyed biking through Malibu along the coast. Sometimes.

I hated it all until I loved it.

Sure, you’re thinking, it’s easy to love L.A. Hollywood! Celebrities! Sunshine! Expensive yoga classes! But let me tell you something: Those are the reasons it’s easy to hate L.A. After about five minutes, running on the beach is actually really miserable. Loving somewhere takes time—no matter where it is—and it never looks like what you thought it would look like in your head. But you can always do it. You just have to find your metaphorical secret Korean burrito place and your tri community. Just look for the people in compression socks.

In our minds, we tend to think somewhere else is greener or sunnier or better. That there’s some magic spot where the training is always perfect and the athletes are always nice but not too nice. But it’s not true. Everywhere has some annoying people and some amazing local food. Everywhere has things to hate and things to love, you just have to find them and accept them for what they are. Don’t move to San Diego to become a skier. Don’t search for perfect fresh poke thousands of miles from the ocean. Figure out what makes your place special and appreciate it.

No matter what they tell you, L.A. isn’t really any better than Austin or Minneapolis or Camden, New Jersey. It’s just different. And didn’t we learn this lesson growing up: We all hate our differences until we love them.