Jan 21, 2005

Aww, I just couldn’t stay away

So, I’ve been thinking about money. Not in the way I so desperately need it and the horrifying pressure my debt has begun to exert on my health well being daily.

Nope, not that.

But money and comfort. Money and confidence. Money and maturity. Money and ego. Money and family.
I grew up in an area where a lot of people had money. A small tourist city with a well-endowed everything and teenagers with BMWs and Mercedes in the public school parking lot and not a factory to be seen for miles.
There was, additionally, a relatively strong divide between the poor and rich, or to be more exact, between some minority populations and the rich white folk. This might seem like lefty exaggeration: but think about: I grew up in a town with 45% Hispanic/chicano population and never had one friend who spoke Spanish, even though I took 3 years of it from a native Italian man. But that is another story.
Though my family had less money than just about every one of my friends, as a function of education and community I was mostly subjected to over funded, over educated peers. These were kids who never wondered if they would go to college. They never worried about being unemployed or owning a house or having a car or anything of the kind. They assumed such possibilities were in their future. These were the kind of people who knew they were going to Europe after graduation, who would “find themselves” if their paths did not naturally present through work or education. Who would always have the trappings of success whether they earned them or not.
They were the sort that cold show up for the first job interview ever, decked out in the latest business wear, the sorts who would always be housed, even if unemployed or, who would own expensive toys and take expensive vacations, even when part time underemployed students. They were, quite simply from a world in which one could spring back quickly and impressively from a lifestyle that should necessitate poverty, due the leverage of their friends and family.
And, I don’t mean to imply that many of these friends, and friends I made in subsequent years with similar backgrounds didn’t WORK. Many of them became talented artists, or engineers or lawyers. Some of them were the hardest workers I knew. But I mean to say they took all sorts of risks that allowed them to rapidly mature-academically and monetarily, and they were affordd these risks and opportunities often by virtue of such a comfort zone. They were able to utilize family equity to achieve some of their own.
Now don’t get my wrong: I don’t hate the rich. There are incredibly kind generous rich people I know, and selfish and bigoted poor people I know.

But you know the term: you’ve got to have money to make money? I think this has to do with more than cash flow and direct investment. People learn how to be successful from more than just putting in time and effort into their pursuits. They learn by conditioning and they grow into the opportunities presented before they may have rightfully earned them. I’ve been considering the assumptions and opportunities that exist with the privilege of having an ample momentary support system at your disposal. This a safety net that creates a unique mentality.

I think of this when I think of unpaid internships and who can afford to live for a year working full time for no pay: and of the experience and possibilities such an opportunity allows. I think of this when I see people network into a job by knowing the right thing to say, and the right place to be. I think of this when people marry within or above their economic means. I think of this when I meet a 21 year old fresh out of college who owns a home and is decked out in the latest style, even if they are fully employed.
Now all of this is old news. But what I’ve been thinking about lately is the occasional snobbery and blindness that accompanies it. The lack of gratitude many exert for their own circumstance. While I am in no way suggesting that anyone should feel guilty for receiving the support of their friends and family, or that the poor dont have the midnset to succeed or are helplessly behind, I am constantly shocked at how few people give their past and present fortune credit. How people will view the struggle of others. It’s part of the whole bootstraps thing that gets me: “I got an education a job and earned my way and now I deserve this car and house, he can do it too, he'd have if he deserved it.”
Yes, but what did it take for you to know how and what to study, what was behind your sense of confidence in these moves. How did you know your academic debt might pay off or, how did it affect your decisions to have no debt to pay off for such luxuries?
It’s important to give thanks for what makes life easier, happier and more enjoyable. It’s important, I think, to have a certain gratitude for what you are given, be it good looks, good business sense, or a daddy who will pay for your comfortable life while you are struggling to build it.
And more to the point, it’s important to not resent others for not having the same opportunity and gifts as you.

No comments: