Blogpost, self-reliance

Being from New Jersey is a Superpower

Anyone who is not from New Jersey, just thought, “Makes sense, lots of super heroes get their powers from toxic waste!” I can appreciate the humor about my home state which I learned in my late teens is referred to as the “Armpit of America.” If you’re not from New Jersey, poking fun at us is easy and I’ll get to the other forty-nine states in just a moment. For now, I’m going to point out some of the better aspects of being from the “Garden State.”

  1. New Jersey is small. Not Delaware small but small enough that being from NJ means something. Sure the North Jersey/South Jersey thing exists (does Central Jersey exist?) but overall being from New Jersey is an identity.
  2. New York City is right next door. Living in the almost literal shadow of probably the most important cities in the world, puts a bit of a chip on one’s shoulder. People from New York State can associate themselves with the City easily. Much to my chagrin, we have multiple sports teams that take the City name but are in NJ. The owners either want the cachet or are embarrassed by their location. Either way, it breeds a little brother mentality that serves our residents well.
  3. The Turnpike, Newark Airport, the Parkway and Jersey Shore (TV show) are usually the first things that pop to people’s minds about NJ. While they are all eyesores in their own right, they do a perfect job of embodying the Jersey persona. “You don’t know me, until you know me.” People discount an entire state based on the worst of what we have to offer and that’s generally ok with us. Most of the people that I know from NJ are extremely tight with “their people” and a bit suspicious of outsiders. It’s not that we’re unfriendly. It’s more that you need to put in the time to get to know us. We have it all but get dismissed easily because people can’t be bothered.
  4. Pork Roll or Taylor Ham? Not only do we have a meat that is pretty unique to our area. We also fight amongst ourselves about what it’s called. In all honesty it’s a tissue vs Kleenex thing but I’ll move on. Being unique comes in all kinds of packages, even a little bag of meat. But that uniqueness probably comes with a bit of heritage. A tip of the cap to the people that have come before because even though we’re not always nice, respect seems to be a big deal.

If you’ll notice, none of these is particularly positive on their own. They are generalizations that are presented with a positive slant. Is being from New Jersey truly a superpower? Not really. Each person needs to decide to look at the ingredients of who they are and choose to look at those component pieces as positive or negative. Being overlooked can destroy someone, unless it doesn’t and they use it to make them stronger.

No matter what state you’re from! Even if you’re from Pennsylvania and you’re driving in the left lane going 55 (damnit!), having superpowers or weaknesses is a choice. Who you are is an advantage, if you figure out how to make it one. There’s nothing particularly special about being from anywhere. Nothing in the water is going to make you awesome, it might give you cancer, but you need to tell yourself a story about your greatness. Then go out and tell the rest of the world. Being from New Jersey is not enough but it’s not a bad start!

Exit 19 off of Route 80!


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