Who are you, and where do you come from? Do you come from a traditional middleclass background where your parents owned a home and had two new vehicles parked in the driveway?
Or, perhaps you grew up poor. If you fall into this category, you may know what empty cupboards, a rumbling tummy, stained and ripped clothing, and being a latchkey kid is all about. You were probably even bullied for being the least fashionable kid in school, especially if you’re female.
If you were born to wealthy parents, you might have hit the jackpot – at least financially speaking. You never had to want for anything, and in high school you were even labeled the “rich kid,” or the “spoiled kid.”
As the rich kid, sometimes you questioned whether people were your real friends or if they were just using you. You never thought twice about money, but at home…your family was more messed up than anyone else’s – you were certain of that.
Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe we can all have wonderful families and upbringings, regardless of our parents’ income, but I also know that a lot of you reading this right now will attest, “My childhood was not right.” Perhaps you’re even afraid, if not terrified of repeating your parents’ mistakes…aren’t a lot of us?
So, your childhood was rough, now what?
I love my family, but we had some very hard times growing up. As a child, I dealt with bullying and I was made fun of because of my clothes. I can remember those feelings like it was yesterday. It pains me to see poor children getting picked on for their appearance, but there’s a silver lining to growing up without money.
When you grow up in a household that has to clip coupons, shop the clearance racks and at thrift stores, it can really stink as a child. Growing up on a tight budget can definitely lead to teenager tantrums – my mother can attest to that! However... it’s all a matter of perspective.
One of the beauties in growing up without is you learn the value of hard work. Instead of something being handed to you, you have to babysit for 100 hours, or mow lawns all summer to get it. You learn that “patience is a virtue,” but you also learn that with the right amount of effort, you can obtain almost anything.
When people look at poverty the wrong way.
While we cannot control which families we are born into, we can control how we react to our circumstances. I was not raised under the easiest of conditions; in fact, at times they were downright hard. But the day you graduate high school and turn 18, your life is in your hands. Once you become an official adult, you have to stop blaming your parents for your misfortune.
When some of us graduate high school, we may not have a dime to our name but as long as we have our mind, we can learn and we can accomplish anything, and I mean anything. Regardless of where you come from, there are three fundamentals at the core of success: education, ambition and action. Even if you don’t have money, you can still get an education, and no amount of money can buy ambition.
You can change your circumstances.
Life can be very difficult. Perhaps you had an unplanned pregnancy at 19, or your loving husband got hooked on drugs and became terribly abusive. Perhaps you had to drop out of high school to support your family after your father was in an accident. Perhaps you suddenly became a single parent at 25 when your spouse left one day, and never came back.
Regardless of your circumstances, it’s time to take responsibility for your choices, and to move forward in your life. We are all responsible for our condition once we become an adult. If you have a family, success is your responsiblity.
The goal, however, is to let your hardships make you stronger, not to succumb to them. When the Great Recession hit, my life was turned upside-down, it took me a few years but one day I stopped blaming the economy and took responsibility for my circumstances and that’s the moment everything turned around.
If you’re unhappy with your life, what are you going to do to change it? If you need your GED to get your dream job, what are you waiting for? Study until midnight if that’s what it takes. If your folks can’t afford to pay for your college, that does not mean you can’t go. By all means, apply for scholarships and grants, or go to a community college for the first two years then go to a cheap state college, or work your way through school – whatever you do, don’t give up. Even if you’re 40 or 50, it’s never too late to go back to school.
The only person holding you back is you.
Whether you’re 18, 38, or 60, the only person holding you back from realizing your true potential is you. Regardless if you were born rich or poor, the power to succeed lies within you and only you. If you think otherwise, you’re fooling yourself. If you’ve been blaming your parents, your ex-husband or wife, or your children – stop!
It may seem ironic, but for those who yearn for more, accepting mediocrity is a form of laziness. If you’re not content with your income or your career, it’s going to take a great deal of energy and effort to extract more value from your life; it’s not going to come knocking on your door.
Just ask any successful entrepreneur who started out with little to nothing and they’ll tell you it took an enormous amount of effort to get where they are today. People don’t become rich and successful by accident; most of them burned the midnight oil for years before they finally hit it big.
If you grew up without any opportunities because your family didn’t have a lot of money, you can use that to your advantage; that's what I did. When you want to succeed so bad it hurts, the taste of success will be that much sweeter. Pretend you have something to prove...because you do.
Unlike some “rich kids” who don’t know how to work hard, you’re the exact opposite. You’ve always had to work hard to earn every dime – all you have to do is find ways to channel that energy into achieving your dreams.
No more excuses!
Regardless of your circumstances, past or present, all you have to do is decide to go for your goals, no matter how crazy they are. In fact, the bigger and more ridiculous the better. If you’re surrounded by negative people who try to talk you out of improving yourself and your circumstances, maybe it’s time to get new friends.
The only barrier between you and realizing your potential is you. The sooner you start taking responsibility for your choices – good and bad – the sooner you can start creating the future you’ve been dreaming of all this time.
Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.
Originally published on LinkedIn.