Photo: Chris Hunkeler

We’re obsessed with In-N-Out.

Here’s a little-known secret: most Californians are not as obsessed with In-N-Out as we make it out to be — we just like to brag about In-N-Out to our out-of-state friends because it sounds cool. Yes, the burgers are tasty and cheap. Yes, the animal fries are the perfect hangover cure. And yes, the Neopolitan shakes are heaven in a paper cup. But, here’s the deal: In-N-Out is still fast food, and most of us Californians are still more into tacos, pho, and healthy food from our farmer’s markets than we are cheap burger chains.

We see celebrities all the time and it’s no big deal.

California is a massive state. The vast majority of celebrities live somewhere in or around LA (Hollywood, more specifically), so unless you have a home in the same Beverly Hills neighborhood as some of Hollywood’s highest paid actors, it’s safe to say you’re not rubbing shoulders with any stars at your local coffee spot.
The closest most Californians will come to seeing celebrities is spotting an OC housewife at the gym — and even that is usually a huge deal.

We’re superficial idiots who spend all our money on plastic surgery and pilates classes.

This one is so generalized it almost doesn’t warrant an explanation. East Coasters may view the golden state as being entirely obsessed with appearance and status (thanks in large part to Hollywood, reality TV, and the media), but that isn’t true. Do some people get boob jobs and botox? Sure. Do some people pay for personal trainers and overpriced workout classes? Yeah. Do some people pride themselves on getting the latest Gucci handbag or the newest car? Of course. But the same could be said for any state.

We all smoke weed.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in California has a medical marijuana license or a pot dealer on speed dial. And we aren’t all whipping up batches of weed brownies for every occasion. Plenty of Californians love to mellow out and get high, but there are also a huge number of us who have never smoked at all, and even some who are actively against the plant.

Everyone knows how to surf.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because you’re from California doesn’t mean you know how to ride a wave, let alone dive under one. Some Californians have never spent more than a few hours at the beach, and couldn’t tell you how to get out of a rip tide if their lives depended on it.

And those lucky Californians who did grow up a stone’s throw away from one of our beaches? Not everyone took to surfing. Some of us preferred to skim board, body surf, or just lounge on the sand.

We’re liberal, environmentally-conscious hippies.

This one is mostly true. Sure, there are tons of conservatives in California, but on the whole we’re a pretty left-leaning state. We like to recycle, we’ve successfully banned the use of plastic bags in numerous counties now, and we’re all about those civil rights protests.

We don’t know how to deal with snow.

This stereotype is totally true for those of us from SoCal. We may cruise up to Mammoth or Tahoe every winter to shred the slopes, but we have no concept of what it means to successfully survive in a snowy environment. For Northern Californians who grew up near the Sierra Nevadas, however, it’s a different story. We know all about how to prevent pipes from freezing, how to adjust tires for icy roads, and the proper snow gear to wear when we’re off the mountain (hint: Converse don’t cut it).

We all sound like Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

Cruise to Trestles or Cardiff in San Diego, find a group of toe-headed teenage boys zipping up their wetsuits or applying zinc to their noses, and you just might witness the quintessential California surfer stereotype. But spotting a Spicoli doppelganger is rare. Most Californians don’t have the surfer drawl, though we probably still use typical surf lingo in our speech from time to time.

We’re aggressive drivers.

This is true, and it’s because we have to be. Surviving the hellish traffic in California requires confidence, agility, and speed. Californian drivers don’t turn on our blinkers, slow down, and hover annoyingly in the space between lanes while waiting for a go-ahead signal from the person behind us — no, we turn on that blinker (if we remember) and zip into the next lane without waiting for approval from the nearby cars. On California highways, it’s every person for themselves.

We don’t know what it means to dress presentably.

Yes, we Californians take casual wear to a whole new level. We run errands in workout clothes, go to the office in jeans, and consider any closed-toed shoes that aren’t sneakers to be “dressy.”
But just because we have a laid-back style doesn’t mean we have no standards when it comes to looking and dressing appropriately. We do — it’s just that standards in California are completely different than the rest of the country.

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