Growing up in Western Sydney, I couldn’t have been happier.
The Hawkesbury was – and still is – my own little world.
I attended a pre-school down my street, a public school around the corner, and a high school just a few blocks away.
I stood beside friends from pre-school at high school graduation. Everyone really did know everyone.
Weekends were spent swimming in the Hawkesbury River, eating ice cream in Windsor’s historic Thomspon Square, and riding our bikes through the local nature reserves.
I was proud of where I lived and I was truly adamant that one day, I would own my own home in the Hawkesbury region.
I was proud of – and content with – my Hawkesbury heritage.
Then I encountered Sydney. And snobbery...
Suddenly I realised, after 21 years of naive bliss, that I should be ashamed of where I came from.
After all, apparently living in Western Sydney made me uncultured, unintelligent and all-round undesirable.
Embarking on university life in Ultimo and Surry Hills, I began to gather quite the collection of charming responses to my 'infamous' Western Sydney postcode.
POST CONTINUES BELOW: Has the word 'bogan' been reclaimed?
Each and every time I met someone new – a student, a co-worker, a tutor, I was asked the same questions...
"What do you even do for fun there?!"
"I bet it's very dangerous to walk around at night..."
"So, when are you going to move away from the West?"
"You're pretty smart. Isn't everyone from Western Sydney dumb?"
The fear of reactions like these led me to start lying about where I came from.
Over time, I found ways to avoid revealing just how "west" I am.
I would use ambiguous locations, like, "just past the hills". And I knew never to mention suburbs like Windsor, Penrith or Blacktown when describing my location because I'd been shown that being a 'Westie' was something to be ashamed of.