Why It Sucks To Be Canadian

Growing up in Canada has many advantages. Canadians really are the most polite people you will ever meet. It is somehow hardwired into our DNA to say “excuse me” and “thank you”. Traveling to other countries it is always a bit of a culture shock until I realize that waiter who has no manners and is talking so gruffly is not actually upset or rude. We are a very sensitive people.

When I lived and worked in the United States I found the people to be wonderful, even if I never did come to understand the appeal of biscuits and gravy. I mean seriously, that is disgusting. The Americans I knew were quite convinced that they lived in the greatest country in the world and were proud to tell me. This is a very un-Canadian way of thinking. In Canada we believe we are from the greatest country on earth, unless you might find that offensive. And actually, when I think about it, even saying this is quite pushy and if I have offended you, please forgive me. I’m sorry.

Growing up I was taught that self promotion was arrogance and a humble person never brags. Humble people, we believed, made fun of themselves and were self-deprecating. We are not flag wavers. Telling someone else that your country is better than theirs is considered the height of bad form. Psychologically Americans and Canadians are very different animals. Canadians have grown up in the shadow of the giant. We tend to define ourselves by what we are not, as opposed to what we are.

As a Canadian it is very difficult for me to admit that I believe Americans raise their children with a much healthier sense of self and self-esteem. Canada is a country of 35+ million people who don’t like themselves. In all my years of counseling in Canada I have yet to meet more than a handful of people who actually like themselves and would describe themselves as having good self-image. That is at least in part to my contention that to even say you have healthy self-esteem in Canada is extremely difficult. If I tell a group or an individual that I like myself I somehow feel dirty, conceited. I usually follow this up with a joke that makes fun of myself. This is a very Canadian experience.

Obviously people from other countries have issues with self-esteem as well. The purpose of this article is not to elevate or minimize another culture. I am simply implying that the Canadian experience is, on some level, very twisted and unhealthy. I have struggled my entire life to come to grips with my feelings of worth and am only now, well into my forties, willing to admit (with a little Canadian trepidation) that I am coming to like who I am. Just writing those words remain difficult for me, however. Stating publicly that I like myself is fighting against generations of self recrimination and sociology.

Religion has also had a hand in making it difficult for people to have a healthy self-image. I did not grow up in a very religious home but every summer at bible camp I was reminded that “everything good is from God” and the intended converse, “everything bad is Scott.” My Baptist camp counselor told me that, “Without God I could do nothing and there is nothing good in me.” I was “born in sin”. I have since grown up to understand those statements in perspective but I distinctly remember feeling like a dirty wretch every summer at the altar call.

I am Canadian.
I am trying to like myself but feel bad telling you this.
I have secretly always believed I was ugly although I wondered if I was good-looking.
I am paranoid about people thinking I may be arrogant.
My parents told me I was a winner but I thought that it would be conceited to believe them.
I have spent my entire life struggling with self-esteem.
If you tell me I am a loser I am prone to believe you.
I am Canadian.

It’s time to let ourselves love ourselves. You are amazing. You are beautiful in spite of what you see in the mirror. You are fine just the way you are. Amazing. More brilliant than you know.

“Something inside you emerges….an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness. It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence. It is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself.”
– Eckhart Tolle

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
– Edmund Hillary

34 thoughts on “Why It Sucks To Be Canadian

  1. Hi there. I’m a dual citizen of u.s. and canada (canada first). I think there are pros and cons to both countries. However, it is true that Americans are high on themselves often bragging about skills they don’t truly possess. i.e. that they can ski well, for example. Yes, they have confidence, and talk a good game, but that doesn’t mean they do well what they say they do. Canadians do have low self esteem and are polited and too self-depricating, but I’m talking of the dominant English population descendants (not the large multicultural influx some of whose cultures are extremely rude and pushy). It’s quite boring up here compared to the U.S., the shopping, taxes and prices are ridiculous, but that’s how we pay for superior social programs. I’m proud Canada is welcoming 25,000 syrian refugees however, that is compassionate. However, it is a lackluster country …it really isn’t ours since it really belongs to the indigenous peoples. Also, Canadians secretly feel superior to all other countries which is stupid and pride themselves on thinking they are “nice” (maybe they put on a good face to the world)…its a good saying: you are no better than any person and no worse.

  2. Um, did anyone read CCC’s comment and why does it appear that no one found it deeply disturbing? Misogynistic attitudes like his are not reflective of Canadian values. If I can be honest, it disturbs me that people who come from cultures that view women in remarkably different ways that they are generally viewed in Canada are living here and enjoying the benefits of our society without respecting our culture and cultural norms.

  3. Canada is a orderly, predominantly clean, and vast country. That is all I can think of when it comes to positive thoughts about this country. But the list for the negative thoughts just does not end. Where to start? I am an Israeli that came here for a better life and to escape war because I do not believe in killing another man. I adopted very quickly. I learned English and then French. I finished university and made English my primary language. Where am I now? Dancing between mickey mouse jobs, drowning in debt, and freezing my nuts off 9 months of a year. Sarcasm amongst the people is a killer out here, especially in the educational institutions and in the workplace. Many university degrees have become useless, even from Canadian institutions. Life in Canada is definitely not a beach, especially for the youth. It is too bad.

  4. This article was nothing but boring old cliches. You have nothing at all original or interesting to say. Canada has lots of issues but you managed to miss them all. Reading the replies it looks like you you fooled a few people, or did you make those up too? Anyway I can get my 20 minutes back?

    1. You sound like a typical Canadian red who pretends to be some kind of expert on the conditions of his country. Everything he said was accurate, don’t be toooo pretentious

  5. I think a place where females act full of themselves even when they are not good looking is actually bad for raising boys because it will hurt their self-esteem and confidence while growing up. i refuse to raise my boys here and rather head south! I think it may be attributed to the fact Canada has allot of immigrants and Canadian born females who are linked to Europe create a woman justice movement worldwide which may be the reason they behave like men here up north. Also, there is nothing really feminine about the females here and i am just grossed out living in Toronto for the last 4 years.

  6. Having lived on both sides of the border as well, I can definitely identify with this. Perhaps Canadians are quicker to admit that they don’t think they’re the greatest, but many of their southern neighbors feel the same about themselves. Of course, self-esteem … whether positive or negative … is a double edged sword. Really low self-esteem can be crippling (I denied myself many opportunities as a young man because I was so convinced that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t even try), while a little bit of low self-esteem can be motivating (while I’m still convinced I’m not that great at what I do, I’ve worked for 25 years to cover up for that lack of natural ability with really hard work and effort). And good self-esteem can be motivating as well (Hey, I can DO this), while overconfidence can lead to a life of disappointment. Even beyond ourselves, this is one of the great challenges of parenting … encouraging a healthy and yet realistic self-image …

  7. “grown up in the shadow of the giant”, interesting, I can see that. Canada is the sweet but slightly lost middle child, the USA is the oldest, idolized child and Mexico is the youngest, troublesome one. Our North American family, lol.

    1. actually, canada is more like the ugly, less talented, way less interesting, wanna-be-USA, dying from inferiority complex (but incredibly pompous anyway) cousin from the other side of the tracks compared to the us.

      canadians just dont have the character, personality, charisma, humor, outlook, confidence or power that americans do. and it has a lot to do with canada being a subjugate country.

      americans have the flair and character they have precisely because their history includes rejecting an undeserving monarchy and fighting against it……. canadians are servants, canada is a servant society; americans are innovators and revolutionaries.

      and yeah, they have earned this reputation through actual actions. i mean, this is a historical fact.

      when youre the biggest dog on the block, everyone’s going to gun for you, americans own this.

      what did canadians ever do? i mean, really?

      this is also why no one really cares about canada, no one cares about your stories. hence why your entertainment and film industry is zilch and why any canadians with any kind of talent move to the usa. theres nothing interesting about canada. you cant even admit to your period of indian killing instead you deny it. at least the usa owns their genocidal history.

      you also like to pretend that youve never done anything egregious. ive been reading about your perverted indian schools. i mean, really? ive also been reading about how everytime theres an interpol raid on child porn, highly placed canadian politicians lawyers judges etc are disproportionately represented….which is probably why canada doesnt have a public national sex offenders registry. you like to hide your ugliness and pretend to the world that youre squeaky clean.

      and the racism? canada is way more racist than the usa….y’all just hide it better.

  8. When I saw your Coming Soon post, I have to tell you, this was the post I was most excited to read (probably because I have Canadian friends and looked forward to passing it along). But the struggle you wrote about is one very familiar to me – a caucasian female Protestant, raised in Georgia and living now in Seattle. It would appear Canada, like many protestant Christian groups, send similar messages rather than teaching us how to feel empowered and proud of who God created us to be. As a therapist now also, I find this is a common theme with clients – so at least we know we aren’t alone? 🙂

    Love your blog – please keep writing!

  9. This is also a super common problem in the South, particularly among women. I’ve struggled with liking myself/not over apologizing/really not liking biscuits and gravy all my life.

  10. I get this article, being Canadian myself. I am battling myself on using the phrase “I’m sorry” I say it far, far too often and in some cases it doesn’t even make sense… What am I apologizing for? Why do I feel this need to always keep the waters smooth and flat? I had nothing to do with the problem so why do I feel a need to apologize for it?

    You know what? I am not such a bad person, I am actually kind of fun, and apparently people like me… so why does it feel wrong for me to feel this way?? Is there such a thing as too polite? Are there times when bluntness is appropriate (but wouldn’t that be rude?)?? I think I am going to take your last 2 sentences hold them tight and run with them…

    “It’s time to let ourselves love ourselves. You are amazing. You are beautiful in spite of what you see in the mirror. You are fine just the way you are. Amazing. More brilliant than you know.”

    Thanx 😀

  11. Ah, Canadians. Being from Maine, many of us only have dealings with the “frenchies” and frankly, we’re not big fans. I’ve come to learn that not all Canadians are like the ones you find in Quebec, therefore, I’m more able to forgive some of the crazy canadian driving we see down here. However, can you explain the buses FULL of Canadians that come here to shop? Don’t you have malls and stores there?

    1. omg I love this comment. Of course all Canadians aren’t the same and I’m guess I speak as only a white protestant and also have noticed that Francophones have a different cultural experience, with which I am only peripherally familiar.
      As to the shopping, for some reason we all have this idea that just over the border is the land of cheap cheese, gas and milk. We do love our dairy.

  12. I’ve found that a lot of people I meet in America (particularly women) don’t have the highest self-esteem either – a “gift” which is often passed on to them by their parents, who likely received it from their own. I really feel bad about this, and try in my readings to make people see what gorgeous souls they really are – every single one of them, no matter how damaged they are by other people. We are all beautiful at the soul level. Period.

    Oh, and I personally know some Canadians who put gravy on their french fries. Now THAT sounds gross. 😛

  13. Well, America is going downhill fast now. Less money is going to the military and the powers that be and the future powers believe that now we must neutralize our “power” and become less than so that we are seen as more equal to other nations, so they will like us more. I see it as America adopting the attitude of, hey, look at us, we aren’t THAT great anymore… so like us, please? Our traditions and our pride in our country is diminishing, fast, in my opinion. The pledge cannot even be said without someone complaining and questioning why it is said. Patriotism is dying. It’s sad, imo.

  14. I’m American and live in the south and think biscuits and gravy is disgusting too. And I also think more ought to acquire the modest and humane qualities of which you write. Just sayin. 🙂

  15. OK…don’t let this throw you…but I really like you and think you are very cool, eh?! And…I love to read your posts. Oh…and when I think of Canada (up there), I think…wow…how cool is that country!?

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