One of my most popular posts is a piece I wrote praising Winnipeg a while ago. In it, I listed things about my city that I love, and things that frustrated me.
The juxtaposition of experiences that come with being a Winnipegger.
I said that they're why I love my city, and why it's the best place to be from.
I still stand by it.
But I didn't always.
I used to be one of those winter-hating, downtown-bashing, sad excuses for citizens who felt that the only positive aspect about living in Winnipeg was that I was able to complain about living here.
I used to think moving to Toronto would solve all my problems. That it would make me happy.
Who knows why.
A bigger city doesn't make you a better person.
A different climate doesn't change your personality.
A subway system or some skyscrapers or more clubs to visit on the weekends doesn't improve who you are.
Only you are in charge of that.
This seems to be something people from Winnipeg tend to forget about.
People I see on Facebook and on forums and in newspaper comments... they become so obsessed with associating their identity (read: personal misery) with where they live that they blame their city for causing them to be bored, broke, stuck in a rut or otherwise unhappy with their lives.
As though a city is to blame for their own personal choices and mistakes.
When someone posts something negative about Winnipeg, I wonder if they realize that it's a reflection of themselves? When they say "eugh, what a dump! Winnipeg sucks!" do they realize that they still live here, too? That this reflects on them?
That, despite their comments to the contrary, they're a part of whatever problems the city has because they're a citizen?
That by rejecting their own personal responsibility they put down those of us who are trying to stay and who are working to make things better?
That by saying "I'm better than Winnipeg!" what they're saying is "I'm better than everyone who chooses to live here. I'm better than everyone else."
Because instead of trying to figure out why they're unhappy here they blame Winnipeg.
Then they run away.
(Or say they're going to, anyway)
Most people who claim to "hate" Winnipeg never seem to actually go anywhere. They stay here and gripe because it's far easier to complain about it than to actually take all the steps necessary to move away.
This seems to be because people's perceptions of their problems are so deeply-tied to Winnipeg that they don't ever actually leave. It provides people with a reason to be upset, with an easy scapegoat.
"My life would be so much better if I left this place"
"My career would be farther along if I lived somewhere else"
"I'd be a happier person if I didn't live here"
I hear people make these statements and it makes me sad for them. That their happiness is contingent on population size, on street names, on landscape.
What a horrible way to go through life.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying nobody should ever leave. There are a multitude of good reasons for anyone to move anywhere.
But a bad attitude shouldn't be one of them.
Alyson Shane is a Winnipeg-based blogger who has been sharing her thoughts online in one capacity or another since the early 2000s. Dubbed the Queen of the Internet by her friends and twitter followers, she takes this title quite seriously and spends an obscene amount of time posting, sharing, and connecting online.
You can find her blog online at http://www.alysonshane.com, or tweet at her at @alysonshane.