The People of Vancouver

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A little over a year ago, HUSH Magazine published a piece called The Vancouver Complex, a reflective article that put into words what we all knew to be the unfortunate truth. We, the people of Vancouver, had a chip on our shoulder and our sense of entitlement was beginning to seep through our esthetically pleasing surface. “We’re snobs by nature,” the article read, “We’re snobs because being the best in the world means we feel the need to continuously prove that we are better than the rest of the world.”

Like every frustrated Vancouverite, I nodded in agreement and shared it on every social media outlet available. I was over it—over Vancouver, over the Louis Vuitton monogram, over the same group of cokeheads that made up the city’s social scene. I was tired of every angry bitch in Vancouver complaining about how angry the bitches in Vancouver are, and I was tired of the angry bitches of Vancouver. So I left. I packed my monogramed LV duffle, stocked my carry-on with kale chips, and made it my mission to prove to the world how atypical of a Vancouverite I was. I believe I wore yoga pants on the departing flight.

Before I go further, let me just say that I still agree with what The Vancouver Complex said. We’re a little arrogant, definitely spoiled, and can have a shitty attitude towards friendly strangers who try to make small talk in public. But here’s the thing: you know all those clichés– the grass being green, the not appreciating things until you don’t have them anymore, etc.? Well, they’re not entirely untrue. It’s taken a full year of living on the other side of the country to identify a few things that I failed to appreciate about the city I once resented.

1) We’re fucking loyal.  

You know the whole “Vancouver’s really cliquey” reputation we have? It might be true, but it’s not all bad. We grew up in a city where finding a solid group of friends was no easy task, and as a result we stay true to ours. Genuine ill-intentioned gossip about people within our immediate circles is uncommon, and don’t think we’ll sit in solemn silence if you talk shit about someone close to us.

2) We’re harder on our city than most people are on their city.

And our opinion of Vancouverites is significantly worse than what most others perceive us to be. Believe it or not, I’ve been told that “people in Vancouver are so nice!” on at least ten separate occasions.  The most condemning opinions about Vancouverites seem to come from– you guessed it– Vancouverites. On the plus side, our level of self-awareness is up there, but perhaps we’re a little too critical.

3) A little narcissism is a good thing.

Say what you want but self-love is a million times better than self-hate. While we loathe ourselves collectively, we adore ourselves individually. As a result, damsels in distress are few and far between, neediness is limited, and opinions don’t go to waste by being unspoken. Vancouver has an abundance of motivated self-starters, strong characters, and people who believe in themselves enough to take risks.  

4) We’re bred with thick skin and steel ambition.

I reckon that the housing market and overall insane costs of life have a lot to do with this. It’s not easy to keep up with the Joneses in our city but we’ll be damned if we’re not amongst the fittest that survive. There’s no shortage of entrepreneurs in Vancouver—why? Because we refuse to be intimidated in our relentless pursuit of success.

5) The obsession we have with everything healthy is part of our charm.

I was once offered a Clif Bar and when I politely declined, my friend insisted “but you’re from Vancouver, you guys love Clif Bars cause they’re healthy.” I gave him a condescending smile and replied, “the first ingredient is sugar; they’re not healthy.” Apparently you can take the girl out of Vancouver, but you can’t take the Vancouver out of the girl (I’m working on it). All jokes aside, fair trade and organic foods are things that need more awareness in the world– we’re ahead of the game and we ought to be proud.

There are a lot of negative opinions about the people of Vancouver. (If you don’t believe me, just look on the internet.) A year ago, I would have sworn that we were cut from the most obnoxious cloth on the face of the planet—a polyester silk knockoff cloth with sequence overkill. Truth be told (and ironically for alleged snobs), we like to shit on ourselves much more than we like to give ourselves credit, and it’s taken me a year to realize just how exaggerated this can be. Is there room for improvement? Always. But despite what our fellow Vancouverites imply, the criticisms don’t negate the things we should be proud of. We have a lovely city and a bunch of people who share the opinion that some positive changes need to occur, so perhaps we can commence with the way we talk about ourselves as a whole.