Californian Myths Explained
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Politics and Activism

Californian Myths Explained

What the world needs to understand about the Golden State

Californian Myths Explained
Man Tripping

I grew up on the central coast of California, near San Luis Obispo. I lived there my entire life and only moved houses once when I was very young. The California way of life has always surrounded me throughout my entire upbringing. I've never known anything different. I thought California was the normal state and everywhere else did things in abnormal ways. I had no idea that there were so many stereotypes about Californians, and, even more so, I had no idea people actually believed them to be true.

Since going to school out of state, however, I've learned a lot about how other states view California, which means I've also learned about all the gross stereotypes that have been associated with it as well. Well, as a fellow friend friend who was born and raised in California and who now calls Oregon home, I can say I officially have an inside scoop on the truths and myths about Californian stereotypes. I'm here to educate you on those ridiculous stereotypes. Ready? OK.

1. Yes, it really is always sunny.

There aren’t actually really seasons in California like there are in other states. There’s just hot, and a little bit less hot and a few days of rain (maybe). People seem to think I’m kidding when I say that you can wear flip flops in most parts of California during the winter. People wear their Rainbow flip flops 365 days a year. However, this doesn’t stop the weather from being a real jerk in terms of predictability. For as long as I can remember, if I wore a big jacket to school in the morning because there was ice on the windshield, I could safely assume I’d be using it to shield myself from the sun during the middle of the day. It doesn’t matter how cold it might be in the morning; it’ll be hot in a few hours. The California winter is a golden one.

2. No, there aren't famous people running around everywhere.

This is one that most people seem to realize must be an exaggeration. However, there are still those who insist that, because I’m within a 600 square mile radius of Hollywood, I must know dozens of famous people who just casually walk through town unnoticed. This is not the case. I think I’ve met maybe one or two celebrities in my entire life. I will say, though, that there do seem to be connections to celebrities all over. I can trace six degrees or less between me and almost any celebrity because of someone’s cousin’s ex-wife’s coworker. Celebrities do not just run around everywhere in California, but I suppose I do have a strange closeness to them through those around me.

3. Yes, Californians do drive awfully.

This is also one I’m guilty of. In California, it’s a common understanding that anywhere under 20 miles over the speed limit is acceptable. After 20, it’s just dangerous. It’s not the sort of bad driving, however, where people are constantly off-roading and crossing over double-yellow lines, (though that certainly happens a lot too). This bad driving is mostly found in the way everyone universally ignores the law. If you’re on a freeway where the speed limit is 65, all the cars in your immediate distance know by the unspoken rules that between 75-80 is acceptable driving speed. In the more urban parts of California, like Los Angeles, disobeying speed limits is not the issue. The traffic in L.A. is ridiculously bad. This results in collisions solely because lots of people are in the same place with big, heavy, dangerous vehicles in their hands. I once had a person, who was driving behind us in L.A. traffic, throw a cup of beer at our tail light and dangerously hop three lanes over in the blink of an eye to recklessly exit immediately after we asked him what he had done. It’s pretty bad.

4. No, it really doesn't rain much.

There’s a reason we’re in a drought, and it’s bad. I’ve been told it wasn’t always this way— that it used to rain more regularly during the winter to where we could actually fill our lakes and keep our hillsides green. But, nevertheless, the Earth has decided California is unworthy and has therefore taken away its water privileges. I remember days in elementary school where, during the winter, teachers would have to practically muzzle kids from having a catatonic freak out when they heard the sound of rain on the roof. There was screaming and laughing and dancing and clapping— you’d think it was a white Christmas. You know that scene from the movie, "Holes," where it finally rains at the camp they’re at after decades of drought, and all the prisoners start dancing and singing and rolling around in the wet mud? Yeah, that’s how Californians feel when it rains.

5. Yes, wineries are everywhere.

In Oregon, the towns surrounding my college have a few wineries. People seem to think that having a few wineries makes it wine country, and so they’re surprised when I tell them that my hometown has ten times the number of wineries. There really are wineries everywhere in any place that’s not a huge city. The wine industry is huge here. The nearest university offers a major in viticulture (the growth and cultivation of grape vines). Most of the wine you see in grocery stores probably came from within 30 miles of my hometown. You’re welcome.

6. No, not everyone knows how to surf; but yes, everyone wants to be tan.

Not everyone in California knows how to surf. Sure, our beach towns are quite populated, and there are a lot of people who like to surf regularly, but not even close to everyone does. I certainly don’t. However, even without every single person knowing how to surf, it appears as though the surfer body is still basically the beauty standard of Californians— tan skin, toned muscle and sun-bleached hair. Everyone wants to be tan, whether they actually go outside and earn it or not.

7. Yes, we are obsessed with In-n-Out and avocados.

They’re delicious, OK?! In-n-Out and avocados are some of the only things I’m proud of when I refer to California. States without In-n-Out and avocados are just inferior. That’s all.

8. No, not all of California is like Southern California.

This needs to be made clear. The different sections of California are in fact just that— very different. If you think northern California and Southern California are in any way similar, you’re not from California nor have you ever even visited it probably. It’s very obvious that NorCal and SoCal are vastly different worlds. If you rock climb, hike, drink wine, surf and smoke marijuana, you’re from NorCal. If you shop at Hollister, drink wine and Starbucks, go to the beach regularly and have a season pass to Disneyland, you’re from SoCal. There’s a reason people are trying to make a 51st state in the northern part of California to separate it from SoCal.

9. Yes, everyone goes to Disneyland.

Season passes to Disneyland are pretty normal. Skipping school to go to Disneyland isn’t at all unheard of. And you’re basically a heathen if you’re from California and you haven’t been to Disneyland at least once. Disneyland is certainly worth all the hype Californians give it, though. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are with my family at Disneyland. I’ve gone several times as an infant, again as a child and more again in my teen years and have enjoyed it just as much, if not more, with each visit. It’s just downright magical.

10. No, earthquakes aren't a big deal.

Earthquakes are the one natural disaster California actually has to worry about, and we're not even that worried about it. Sure, earthquakes have leveled some cities in California over the last century, but we’ve since then structured our buildings to not fall quite as easily, making earthquakes not nearly as cataclysmic as they once used to be. The really big ones can still be scary, but the regular 3.0 or 4.2 earthquake is nothing. Any earthquake under 5.0 just wakes me up from my nap. I remember doing earthquake drills in elementary school where we would have to get under desks or stand in doorways for a few minutes while the teachers pretended the walls were caving in, and it usually just meant that everyone got a chance to chat and giggle under the desks. Earthquakes happen so regularly and are often so harmless that Californians have just decided that we're no longer scared of them.

11. Yes, most geographical names are in Spanish.

I live in a town called Atascadero (which actually means muddy hole in Spanish), in San Luis Obispo county, near Santa Barbara and El Paso de Robles. (If you couldn’t tell, all those bold words are Spanish.) Even my street name is in Spanish. All the geographical proper nouns in California are more than likely of Spanish origin. There really are missions running up the whole Californian coast that were established by Spanish Catholic monks centuries ago. California is deeply tied to Hispanic and Latin culture; it’s just part of our history.

12. Yes, Californians do (apparently?) talk funny.

It took me actually moving to another state to realize this one. Californians do speak a little bit differently than people from most other states. I haven’t met anybody who can quite describe the Californian accent, but apparently there is one. For the longest time, I just assumed Californians were the blank slate without an accent and that all the other states had accents. We also speak differently in the words we use. Californians really do say “ the 101” or “the 5” when talking about freeways, and they really do use the word “like” as a filler in the middle of their sentences. Certainly, not every person says “like” too much, and there are a lot of really educated people who are objectively eloquent and well-spoken, but the majority of Californians fall guilty to these claims.

There it is. All the myths about California that you didn't know you needed to be educated on. Consider yourself educated. Hopefully now you can correct all your friends on the stereotypes about Californians and see that most of the things said about California are false. I may no longer consider myself a Californian, but I am originally from California, so some of these tendencies will never leave me. I will always call the freeway "the 101," and I will always love In-n-Out.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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