Psychological impact of growing up poor
From the ages 11-19 I never slept on a bed. I was sleeping on a couch because there wasn’t enough room for the family of 5 in a single room apartment. Parents currently still earning minimum wages.
Flash forward – I’m in my mid twenties making 150k a year. Even with that type of income I constantly feel poor. Imposter syndrome maybe? A feeling that this was not supposed to happen.
Anyone else feel like this?
- If you want to train an elephant to be controlled by a rope you tie the rope to the elephant’s foot when it’s a baby. All the time it is growing up the rope is there and so by the time the elephant is an adult the rope, which it could easily snap, still controls it.
Now you have removed the rope but it still controls you. Who are you without the influence of your past, without the weight of your present, and without the fear of your future is the question.
You are an independent being with intrinsic value regardless of circumstance, the opinion of others, or even the weight you place upon yourself because you cannot see yourself as you really are.
Let go of the ghost of the rope and feel yourself free and alive. As you do this recognize that in that moment the past is gone, the future is not yet arrived, and living in the moment being aware of yourself and your surroundings is all that there really is.
Stay in the moment until it’s time to stop. What comes next is up to you.
- I hoard (save and invest) money and always have. Then I have these financial events that drain my savings and I have to start over. Financial events such as medical bills and home maintenance. I drain my emergency fund on those things as soon as I get enough in there to feel safe. I will never feel financially sound but I guess that’s normal.
- Very normal for your attitude toward money to remain the same even if your income goes up. It happens to many people. You have to consciously change the way you think about it.
We have a social expectation that once you have a high income and a house/car/etc. you will stop feeling poor. However, you will always continue to feel some anxiety if you have a lot of debt (even supposedly “good” debt like a mortgage), your fixed expenses are high, your income is just from your job and not diversified, etc. I think imposter syndrome is one way to think about it, this feeling that you can lose everything at any time.
Everyone’s approach is different. But what has helped me personally is to “live below my means” in terms of big expenses and then write down a plan to spend money on small things that make me feel rich day-to-day. For me that is things like taking the train instead of the bus, or wearing nice shoes (not buying extra, just better) But not taking out a big mortgage, because even though I can afford it, I wouldn’t be able to if I lost my income.