1. When asked what part of New Jersey you come from, you respond with your county.
Let’s just face it, New Jersey is pretty packed. There are tons of towns, and chances are that all your new non-Jersey friends will have absolutely no idea what place you’re talking about. It’s much easier to generalize by saying, “I’m from Bergen County.” People will just assume that you’re from a relatively nice middle class town in the north. It’s also easier to bond with other New Jerseyans (New Jerseyites?) over your home-state. It helps transition the conversation towards including specific towns. “Hey man, you’re from Essex? Sweet, I’m from Passaic! Where in Essex?” And the rest is history.
2. Your friends call you out on your accent at least once a day.
Everyone else will find your New Jersey accent and colloquialisms comical and at times off-putting. Your pronunciations of words like “cawfee” and “dawg” are what make you unique in a sea of characters that represent all fifty states. Your friends will quickly note that you drink “wudder,” not water, and that there is a distinct difference between the two that could eventually bring the country to war. And you can’t forget the ongoing debate of “Is it SEE-CAW-CUS or SUH-CAW-KISS” with your peeps. What’s the answer? The state of New Jersey may never know.
3. You will fall victim to being associated with at least one terrible misconception about your state.
Skip the introductions and fast forward to the very moment where you reveal that you come from New Jersey. Before the last syllable in Jersey can escape your tongue, you immediately become this obscene fist-pumping creature who has never pumped gas from a far away land with more Oompa Loompas than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. While you may turn red embarrassment and struggle with not being able to debunk such frivolous myths, you keep your cool, sip your Wawa iced tea, and stave off the haters, because you’re #strongerthanthestorm.
4. Any conversation you have about New Jersey with your fellow Garden Staters can quickly become a full two-hour analytical panel.
Seriously, with the amount of fervor that you can put into a conversation about New Jersey, you would think that you belonged to a panel consisting of Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, and Bruce Springsteen. It starts off small with the county discussion (refer to point one to see how this pans out), and gradually you move towards which exit you take off the Parkway. Before you know it, you have conjured a map around the state using every highway you are know, recounted at least one tale about how you got debilitatingly lost in downtown Newark, reenacted Christie’s reelection campaign and Stronger than the Storm commercials, and disputed where Central Jersey ends and South Jersey begins. You may get sidetracked every now and then, but soon you find that all conversational roads lead to New Jersey in situations like this, and so you laugh and cry and reminisce about all things Garden State until you’re blue in the face.
5. You have an honorary photo of you pumping gas for the first time on all forms of social media.
Yes, it is outlawed to pump your own gas in New Jersey. Yes, that makes you the prince or princess of the highway. And yes, all your Facebook friends deserve to know when you finally take the leap of faith in another state and pump gas for your self, family, or friends. As your virgin hands nervously guide the nozzle into the gas tank for the first time, you smile for the camera and patiently anticipate the slew of sarcastic, but congratulatory comments. Maybe this will be the day you reach a hundred likes on Instagram, so choose your filters wisely.
6. You worship the Jersey Shore as a well-respected vacation spot.
Shout-out to The Situation for ruining this one for the rest of the country. Seriously bro, are you even from New Jersey? You appreciate Seaside’s over-Italian tackiness and Atlantic City’s sleazy zeal, but you find your true bliss sitting in the warm sand on LBI or floating on your back in the ocean at Bradley. There’s so much more to the beaches than what a couple of no good out-of-staters portrayed on national television, and if no one else is going to enjoy that, then you’ve only gotten yourself more room on one of Jersey’s many glorious beaches.