Things I learned Growing Up Poor

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I grew up in the projects and still have a lifelong phobia of cockroaches. We never went on vacations and it was a pretty foreign concept for me at the time. People took weeks off work and traveled somewhere far away spending thousands of dollars for a few days or weeks of fun? That amount of money would’ve fed my family for weeks.

But it was fine. I didn’t know that we were “poor” until we moved out of our shanty neighborhood.

Even as a kid, I loved reading and instead of toys, I saved up my allowances to buy books during the book fairs at my school. Despite being poor, my parents were very frugal and they always managed to give us a small allowance every now and then.

I also had a teacher who had her own classroom library and would let us borrow from it whenever we wanted. It was what led me to my life long love of books.

I think that’s what saved me from ending up with the same fate as a lot of the kids I had grown up with. It was the books.

I wasn’t limited to the mindset of the people around me when I had books because that gave me access to the minds of some of the greatest thinkers who ever lived and that’s what books are. They share ideas.

It made me start to question the people around me. It made me realize that things don’t have to be the way they are.

1.Sometimes You Have to Breakaway

Most people never make it out of the social or economical class they were born in and that’s because it’s  hard.

Developing a new way of thinking and developing new habits when all of the people around you are doing the exact opposite is hard no matter what social class you were born into.

Few people can do it. It takes a lot of willpower, motivation and creativity to do something completely different from everything you’ve been taught growing up.

Some people live their whole lives in the town or city they were born in. There’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you choose to do.

But I knew I had to leave my hometown behind if I didn’t want to end up like everyone else there.

You didn’t have a choice in where you were born but you do have a choice in where you will end up.

If you’re born in a first world country, and you probably are if you’re reading this, then you can live anywhere in the world! Why limit yourself to one place?

It always amazes me, how many people dream of living in a different place. London or Tokyo or maybe the Himalayan mountains. If it’s your dream, do it. Grab life and take it along with you, you’re the main character of your own story.

Who wants to be the boring protagonist who never does anything?

2.Not Doing Things Just Because it’s Tradition

This one always gets me into trouble, usually with the wrong people, the people who are at the top, the ones who don’t want things to change.

Even as a kid, I often questioned why things had to be done the way they always were.

“Why don’t we ever take that road?” I asked my mother one day while were driving back home from the grocery store. I pointed to another road that branched away from the main highway. It looked fun, like it would lead to some adventure somewhere. (I had a pretty active imagination as a kid.)

“We don’t know where it leads,” my mom said.

That day, I told myself I would take all the unexplored roads when I learned to drive.

This tendency to want to keep with tradition is hardwired in us. It’s what enabled us to survive for so long as a species. It’s important, because we can’t have everyone going off doing their own thing or our societies and communities would break down.

But, there’s a limit. Some traditions and cultures are outdated and can even be harmful. It’s important to do away with traditions that longer make sense in our world.

3.Change your mind, change your look, change your life

They say the way you look doesn’t matter but it does. The way you dress tells who you are to other people. The way you look can attract or repel people.

You dress the way you do because you want to belong to a certain group. Whether you choose to have blonde highlights or dye your hair blue (or something else all together) it’s because you want to impress a certain type of person.

4.Everyone Has a Story

I learned to judge less. There’s always a reason why someone is the way they are. Even someone like Charles Manson. He had an awful, tragic childhood. It doesn’t excuse what he did, but it does shed light onto it. What if someone had stepped in at the right time? Could things have changed for the better?

I’m not perfect. I’ve  done my fair share of judging.

No one has all the answers. The truth is often somewhere in the middle.

Know that everyone has a story as intricate and complex as your own. You wouldn’t want someone else to judge you without know anything about you, so why do the same?

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