1) Utah Families Have a Lot of Kids
If you grew up in Utah, unless you had a “small” family (two or three kids), you toughened up early, thanks to your siblings. When there are six kids and one pan of brownies, you learn pretty quickly that you’d better throw that elbow and step on your little sister to grab your share before your big brothers leave nothing but crumbs. Your mom was too busy to referee every time your sister bit you or your brother punched you, so you learned to deal with it on your own. If you were like me and grew up with just one quiet, little sister, you still toughened up by the time you got to school because you were in a class with 35 other kids and the teacher expected you to just jump into the fray and figure it out for yourself. Someone took your four-square ball? Suck it up, Utah kid.
2) Utahns Have a DIY Mentality
Let’s just be honest for a minute. Utahns are cheap. Why pay someone to do something you can do yourself? The guy at Home Depot can give you a few tips so that you can finish your own basement, tile your kitchen or put a new roof on your house. All those DIY projects sometimes make us tougher in two ways: first, we gain self confidence with a job well done, second, we quickly learn that we can recover from nasty injuries inflicted from a DIY job poorly botched. When things don’t work out like we planned, we learn another fact of life: we can be resourceful and hire the plumber we should have hired BEFORE we flooded the basement. The ability to admit that we sometimes fail is a special kind of toughness.
3) Utahns Play in the Rugged Outdoors
Many Utahns don’t see a mountain peak — they see a challenge. We love to hike, bike, climb, ski and otherwise test our limits in Utah’s rugged outdoors. All that athleticism lends a certain toughness to our personalities. Of course, some Utahns aren’t as coordinated as others. Those Utahns learn toughness when they tumble head over heels down the ski run, blowing out their knee in the process. They grit their teeth and try not to cry while Ski Patrol drags them down the mountain to the ambulance, then they soldier on through surgery and months of physical therapy. Once they’re healed, those tough Utahns get right back on the mountain to tackle more moguls. I said they were tough… I can’t comment on their intelligence.
4) Utahns Live Through Summer Weather
Hot, hot, hot. Utah summers are brutal. But do we hide indoors with our central air conditioning? Nope. We sit at baseball and soccer games in blistering heat, cheering our little athletes on. We head for Lagoon to stand on blacktop in long lines, waiting for a thrill ride. We work in our gardens, mow our lawns and build backyard decks. All in 90 to 100 degree weather. And our Southern Utahns? They do all of that with an extra 10 degrees on the thermometer. Some of them also raise crops, round up cattle and groom orchards.
5) Utahns Live Through Winter Weather
The thing about Utah is that we don’t only have hot weather. Our cousins in Arizona bake through the summer, then host pool parties in the winter. Not us! We also get crazy cold, snowy, icy weather. Not only is it cold; it’s gray and depressing much of the time. Utahns have to be pretty steadfast to last through a bad Utah winter. Our last few winters have been mild, but any grown Utahn is old enough to remember several winters with massive amounts of snow and bitter temperatures.
6) Utahns Have a Strong, Independent Pioneer Spirit
I recently wandered through the Salt Lake City Cemetery and was surprised to see the graves of so many babies who died in the 20 years or so after the first pioneers arrived. Some women lost five babies in just over five years! It’s unimaginable what our pioneer ancestors went through in this valley. They lived in the middle of nowhere, with little available medical care and no food unless they produced it themselves. While our infant mortality rate is much lower now and we don’t have to grow our own food, that pioneer toughness is in our DNA.
7) Utah is Full of Scary Wild Animals
It’s still the Wild West here in some ways. Go for a hike in Utah’s foothills land you may find yourself face-to-face with a young bull moose (Don’t try to appease him with a granola bar; just back away slowly, don’t make any sudden motions and get far away). You might step on a rattlesnake. Up in the high country, you’ll find bears and an occasional mountain lion. Utahns aren’t scared of a little old bear, though. Do we avoid hiking just because of a few slithery, deadly-poisonous snakes? Of course not! We welcome the challenge, the danger and the excitement of meeting Utah’s scary wild animals. While growing up in this state, we learned that all the best adventures might potentially involve a dangerous creature, and we toughened up, laced up our boots and hit the trails.
Why do you think you’re tough? Is it because of the reasons above, or something else? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!