Poverty Is Not Numerical

It has been a long journey for me, from humble beginnings to where I finally landed at 30 years old and I learned a lot of things along the way. However, when I reached the end of that journey, I felt something that I had never expected to feel. Guilt. I realize that might sound strange. So let me explain…


I was born into a lower class, blue collar family. The type that lived paycheck to paycheck and barely scraped by. So naturally, I had identified with being poor and low class my whole life. I hated “rich” people and blamed them for my family’s problems growing up. Looking back, I’m sure that was a mix of being envious of them as well as not quite knowing how I could become like them.


After coming from nothing, when I became what most would consider “wealthy”, a part of me felt that I had lost something I had identified with for most of my life.


By the time I was 30 years old, I had become the most successful person in my family. Ordinarily, that’s nothing to feel guilty about. But growing up watching my parents scrape together money just to pay the rent or listening to my mom on the phone pleading with the electric company not to shut off our electricity, I now felt a sense of guilt for being wealthy.


I didn’t know how to identify with my new sense of self. When people asked me what kind of car I drive, I told them I drive a pick up truck, even when I had a brand new Porsche sitting in my garage. There was a part of me that didnt want to admit I wasn’t that poor, blue collar, kid anymore. I didn’t know how to shed that view of myself. And I felt guilty trying to do so.


The only way I can describe it, is that it kind of felt like survivors remorse in a way. Being the one in my family to escape the cycle of poverty. But I knew I had earned it. It took hard work, sacrifices, late nights, stress, hustling, and sacrificed time with my family in order to escape.


I think the most important thing I learned on that journey was learning that poverty had nothing to do with money. The chains were mental and emotional, not numerical. Those chains were broken not by the number in my bank account but by shedding my previous view of myself and my previous view of the world around me.