1. No, we didn’t all live on the ‘Strip.’

‘So which hotel do you live in?’ was the most common question I got whenever I went out of town. Apparently, it comes as a surprise to many that there is more to Vegas beyond the Strip. There are in fact entire neighborhoods and school districts throughout the ever-growing city just like any other place in America.

2. Not all of our mothers are Showgirls.

Ok, mine was. But, in my defense, I hardly knew any kids whose parents worked in entertainment on the Strip when I was growing up — so it’s still a stereotype. I used to say my mother was a dancer whenever I was asked about her, but to avoid the dreaded, misogynistic ‘what kind of dancer?’ question, I just started calling it something more specific.

3. We’re not all gamblers.

I don’t even know how to play poker, but I can definitely think of some better ways to make big bucks in Vegas that don’t involve risking it all. Dulled to the visitors’ excitement of flashing lights and slot machine chimes, I’ve learned that playing off the gamblers themselves is what really pays. You don’t even want to know what a valet driver, cocktail waitress, or dealer can make in a year…

4. “You must get VIP access to all the night clubs…”

Yes, but so can everyone. Club promoters walk the Strip and hand out “VIP access” cards to encourage more women to show up and, thus, more men willing to buy them drinks. I used to be one. It’s a marketing trick — if you get in for free and avoid longer lines, you’re more likely to justify spending more on drinks. Booze in clubs is popcorn to movie theaters.

5. We grew up without ‘culture.’

Yeah, this isn’t true. If you grew up in Vegas, you saw the beautiful underbelly of local events that showcased some of the city’s top talent. While I attended my artsy high school, Las Vegas Academy of Arts, I was exposed to some of the most incredible artists, singers, and performers I’ve ever met. Ten years later and after traveling around the globe, this remains true. I’ve watched some of my fellow classmates go on to become concert pianists, sing on Broadway, and sell incredible works of art for $20k per print.

6. We must party all the time.

When I worked as a nightlife promoter, I used to get paid to wait with groups of women [coworkers] in line outside of clubs or merely show up to a club for free table service. We called it ‘dressing the room,’ as in filling in for the gaps of women to draw in more male tourists. I did not get paid to actually drink and enjoy myself, so I quickly grew to dislike the types of crowds drawn to the Strip under a sober microscope. As a result, I’ve probably “been clubbing” a lot less than the majority of my twenty-something counterparts.

7. “Didn’t you get tired of living in the middle of a desert?”

Actually, the mountains and water are practically within arm’s reach. It’s almost like California in that way — you can go from the city to the mountains or a large body of water within 1-2 hours. West of the Strip, Red Rock Canyon offers a 13-mile scenic loop bustling with rock climbers, hiking trails and seasonal waterfalls. To the north, you can ski the slopes at Mount Charleston, or jet ski the warm waters of Lake Mead to the east.

8. We can handle cold weather, too.

A nice break from the typical 100+ degree weather of summer, winters in Vegas are surprisingly cold, with brisk winds and temperatures that dip down into the mid-30s. There have even been bouts of record snow fall, which is certainly something none of us expected to see in a desert town so often.

9. We must all be victims of crime or criminals ourselves.

Although the crime rate in Vegas surpasses the national average across all communities in America, when compared to other cities with a similar population size, Vegas actually appears to be one of the safest. Furthermore, the majority of the crime in the city takes place close to the Strip, where the majority of residents don’t live.

10. School probably wasn’t a top priority for us.

Actually, we’re more likely to complete a college education compared to students in other cities. Citizens of Vegas have a higher level of education than the national average, with over 21% of adults having a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

11. We’re all out of touch with ‘the country.’

We know country. Across the vast desert that surrounds the city of lights is a rich equestrian culture and ancient Indian villages waiting to be explored. In fact, horse property is quite common throughout Las Vegas Valley, while wild horses and burros can be spotted throughout the state in high numbers.