Everywhere you go you see someone you know and a lot of the cool places to hang out back as teenagers are still the places the new generation goes. Do these qualities sound familiar? If so, I am talking about being born and raised in the High Desert of California.

Being born and raised in a city that what was recently ranked fourth on “Most Boring and Worst Places in California” by the online real estate firm Movoto Real Estate in addition to being ranked ninth on “Most Dangerous Cities in California” by the law firm Graham Donath using FBI data makes my town the perfect one.

People hear these statistics and they begin perceiving it as a smaller town that is part of the High Desert of California where they do not desire to live nor visit. This is the same mentality I find with many of the people from my town also.

When someone knows I no longer live at home on a permanent basis their eyes widen and with regret they tend to say, “You were lucky … you got out.” Now, this is the type of mentality a lot of the people develop and since they have such a strong desire to leave, once they do, they tend to not come back. For the ones that do at home, they can be looked down upon simply for desiring to stay temporarily or permanently.

Having been fortunate enough to travel to dozens of countries and meet many people, the ones that know about the High Desert do not have positive things to say about it. The ones that say nothing make it obvious through their body language how they truly feel for a town they have probably never truly gotten to know.

The people living in the High Desert tend to listen to this feedback, see some logic in it, proceed to speak negatively about their own hometown and the self-fulfilling prophecy begins to play out.

We all have a choice when speaking about our home, but for the longest time, even I played it down and could not wait to leave the desert. Now that I am older, I have come to realize that it is up to us to change the mentality of how the High Desert is perceived by its own inhabitants and outsiders. We must talk about it in a positive light and find things we love. For example, rarely anywhere else I have been can I walk into the movie theater on a Friday night, use my student discount and pay $6.50. This would be ludicrous for just about any bigger city.

Let us remember to be conscious when we speak of the High Desert because if we want our reputation among outsiders to change, then it has to start with us.

Armando Quintana III was born and raised in Victorville. He will be starting medical school next year.