Thursday, June 9, 2016
Making Your Own Success In the World
It is true; some people just seem to have charmed lives. They happen to have been born into families where money is abundant, educational opportunities are available without ending with a mountain of debt, connections are waiting to land the first, then next great job, and the cycle continues with their own kids. Their attitude may even be charmed, as they claim that anyone can live the American dream if they just work hard enough. Even in the same families, there seems to be the golden children, where life just sort of works out. They are in the right place, and right position to be the heir apparent, garnishing respect, and access to assets, while their more bland sibling just is in the shadows, happy for the occasion biscuit of praise, or to have a small helping of leftovers, the unworthy under achiever.
I've been witnessing these scenarios for a long while for someone close to me. The inequity in which his parents portioned out respect and opportunity, is hugely responsible for golden boy brother's success, is blatantly obvious, yet my friend is unbothered by it. Fortunately, he is successful by his own definition, and does not feel the need to have his worth defined by the size of his house, and the number of digits on his paycheck. Still, experiencing the attitude of the sibling looking down his nose gets weary. The deprecating comments that are always at his brothers expense, but are all just in humor get old. This same person, the brother, is one of the most bigotted, if not racist, homophobic, hater of the poor, I've ever met. "The poor are poor because they're lazy. Welfare queens are sluts that just keep breeding children for the welfare check. Immigrants should have just stayed in their own sorry ass country and quit expecting special treatment My ancestors did it and look at where I a now!." Fortunately, my friend see's little of him, and I even less.
In the season of graduations, we like to congratulate the young person with accolades of how the future is there for the taking. Reality though is that for many, reaching that high school graduation stage is the height of their academic success. They may be the first one in generations to finish high school, and college, well that is out of the question. There are teens in the foster care system that graduation brings a host of other fears. They become emancipated, no longer the responsibility of the state or county, and no one else had to take responsibility for them either. When I hear stories about people with successful lives that literally, had to work their way up through more adversity in a week than I experience in a year, I am amazed.
I saw a news feature recently of a teen that couch surfed her senior year of high school because she had no home, while holding down a full time job. That's a successful person. I'm not impressed that my friends brother is buying a new half a million dollar home and selling his current home for twice what he paid for it. I know that he got into the house in the first place with no money down, below market value, purchased from his father (so didn't need to qualify for a mortgage), and fixed up with free labor from his father in law. That's not an American success story-that's generational wealth in action. I'm impressed by a former coworkers story of how her extended family of second generation refugees pooled their collective resources to buy a fixer upper and will earn every penny of value through shared sweat equity. That is real success.