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10 Ways Growing Up Poor Will Make Your Adult Life Surprisingly EasierGrowing up poor is no joke. It will stretch your imagination and make you grow up one hundred times faster. It can be difficult, stressful and embarrassing, especially when you are young. “Why me” can be the question of the month. But, growing up poor can also be one of the best things that will ever happen to you. You may not see it right away but, trust me, you will appreciate it over and over once you grow up. It took me a very long time to realize that so let me save you some time and tell you why you should be proud of growing up poor. If you look at me now you may think that I have no idea of what being poor is. Who, after all, just quits their job and can afford to travel the world? In my adult life I’ve had a privilege of living in luxurious homes, staying in 5 star hotels, and driving expensive cars. Well, the life I live now cannot be further from what I am used. By western standards, I grew up poor although I never really knew it at the time. I grew up in Poland during communism and know first-hand of what it means to not to have much, or anything for that matter. But the life I have built taught me one thing for sure: money does not make you happy. It may make your life easier but not happier. As a matter of fact, when I look at my life, some of my happiest memories actually come from the time when I was the poorest. So if you are struggling today, if you are stressed and embarrassed, it’s time to take action, stand up tall, and know that what you are going through is temporary. Be proud of the person you are becoming because here is why growing up poor is the best thing that can happen to you.
You are resourceful beyond imaginationGrowing up poor you don’t have much, so you learn how to figure things out or get it from extraordinary places. By the time you become an adult you have a successful track record of figuring things out and there is no obstacle that will stop you from achieving your goals. Having to manage multiple international programs in my career, I can tell you that resourcefulness is one of the highest quality I look for when creating top performing teams.
You discover the power and freedom of being creativeGrowing up poor you don’t have new toys, new books or the dream bicycle. You don’t even expect it so you get busy creating things you want by yourself. Initially you hate it and wish you could just have money and buy anything you want. But over time the unexpected happens. Through the process, you discover the power and freedom that comes with creating something on your own and establishing your own rules. When things are tight and your imagination takes you to amazing places, you do what you need to do and simply make it happen. Nothing can stop you from perusing your passion.
You are a full-time dreamerSo what is the first thing you do when you don’t have much and there is not even a prospect of getting it? You dream. You develop this elaborate dreaming that overtime turns into visualization and then magic happens! The lines between the dream and the reality become blurred and just like that you start believing in your dreams. The feeling becomes so real that you simply start turning your dreams into a reality. And when you do, you naturally encounter a lot of naysayers. You see, they usually do not dream about amazing things, they don’t know how it feels and they cannot believe that yours can come true. But can this stop you? Not at all. Your dreams feel so real that you simply cannot accept any other options. Instead, you design your life to be as amazing as your dreams.
You’ve got motivation and sense of urgency flowing in your bloodThe vision of your grandest life is so strong that it propels you to take action every day. There is no obstacle that will stop you. There is no naysayer that can discourage you. You are driven beyond common sense. You are ambitious and determined. You know that what you have today is better than what you had yesterday and that tomorrow can bring even more. So you work hard, you don’t complain and you don’t stop. You make it happen. You have nothing to lose.
Your patience drives your persistenceBut making the impossible possible is not a piece of cake. It takes hard work, creativity, commitment and lots of time. There will be obstacles and feeling of wanting to give up but do you? No you don’t! You develop a tremendous amount of patience waiting for what you really want and persistence to accomplish the impossible task. You create your own way of getting to the finish line. If one door closes, you try another one. If that one closes, you try a window, and maybe a chimney, or a key hole. It doesn’t matter how long it takes and how difficult it is. You are having fun trying different things because the feeling of accomplishment despite the difficulties is more rewarding than anything money can buy.
You don’t understand the concept of “it cannot be done”By now you have tried so many different thing and failed over and over only to finally succeed that when a new challenge appears and others say “it cannot be done” – you are just getting fired up because you know there is no one way to think or do. There are millions of them and when there is a will there is a way. When others count on their parents’ savings or financial aid as the only way to finish college, you smile. You know that there is no college fund for you. You put yourself through school and prove to the nonbelievers that it can be done. You figured out how to accomplish goals without spending money. Hearing “it cannot be done” make you smile wide.
You are resilient, independent and ready to take risksAnd since most of your life you had nothing to lose and a lot to gain, you are not afraid to take risks. You know that if you never take a risk, you will never achieve you goals. If you want it, you go for it. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. There is nothing that can truly scare you or set you back. Growing up poor, you have been through tougher situations than anything you will face in your grownup life. You know that each ebb proceeds the flow. When you are at your lowest you don’t despair. You know that there is only one way to go from there – and that is UP.
Material things don’t impress youYou have experienced happiness without material things and you know that’s possible so material things don’t impress you much. Sure, it is nice to have a great house and money to buy what you want but you know without a shadow of a doubt that these things don’t make you who you are. These are just comforts in life but the real value lies in experiences and people around you. Those moments that are so precious that no diamond ring can ever top it. You find joy in little things and create memories that will stay with you forever, as opposed to something you bought a month ago and don’t even recall it now.
You are great with moneyAnd since you’ve learned to live without money and don’t need much of it to be happy, you are great at managing it. You have never had that financial sense of security so you are determined to have it now. You save up, you invest and you grow your nest egg. You don’t spend much because you don’t need to. You admire people like Warren Buffet who have a lot, yet enjoy simple life and find the joy in pursuing their passion.
You are full of gratitude and gratitude leads to happinessFinally, you realize that growing up poor was a life lesson…that you don’t need a luxurious mansion and millions in the bank to be happy. You are used to simple life so anything that comes along to make it better is an unexpected bonus. You are grateful for…well, pretty much anything good that happens. And gratitude is the ultimate key to happiness.
[mashshare shares="false" buttons="true" align="left"]Now, your turn. What was your biggest lesson in life? What are you grateful for these days?
Wow. You are just a breath of fresh air. You’ve manged to turn something that everybody avoids to me almost wishing that I grew up poor.
Wonderful positive approach to life. I’m definitely bookmarking this site.
Thanks so much Janet. That is a huge compliment! I really appreciate you joining me on this journey!
This is the most wonderful perspective on not having it all I’ve heard in a long time. I’m 5th grade teacher and will be certainly sharing it with my kids.
Thanks AnnMarie! It’s not easy growing up without much. I wish when I was growing up somebody would let me know how amazing life can be. That nothing and nobody can and should stop me from following my dreams. That my current situation does not define my future at all. I am the only one who can create my amazing tomorrow! Enjoy! Hope you kids will like it.
Can I just say, this is the best thing I’ve seen in while… I grew up poor as well and like you pull myself through, got a great job, got a house and sometimes can’t believe how spoiled my kids are. I was always ashamed of growing up poor so I keep giving them everything I’ve got and I’m starting to realize that this may be mistake. What the really need is a bit of education like this. Will be definitely sharing this.
I can relate to you story… it’s great!
When I was really young (til about age 9) my parents, my sister and I lived in a mobile home park, my mom made our clothes (and even our dolls clothes!) and we ate out of our garden because our parents were young and poor. My mom was going through school to become a teacher and my dad was painting houses. We did not have much. No new toys, not even clothes from the store… this is poor in the US!
but I don’t remember anything but happiness when I was a kid. We sometimes got jealous of things other kids had, but we forgot about it pretty quickly, and used our imaginations 100% of the time to create games, and use nature as entertainment. I read books every day.
Later when my dad got a better job and we were able to move into a house, we still didn’t have much for some years. Not the nice trendy clothes or shoes, or the nice cars (we were embarrassed of our parents old clunkers when they dropped us off at school). But then even later, when he got still better positions when we were teenagers and he finally drove a nice car and we lived in a pretty nice house, my parents never bought us a bunch of shiny new toys or spoiled us. They both grew up in poor families with lots of siblings, and parents who didn’t spoil them, so they were the same.
When you don’t have much, you use your imagination a lot, and when you are young, this is a great thing.
Wow Brooke! What an amazing story! I am getting goose bumps just reading this. It’s crazy how lack of money can show us how unimportant they really are. Thanks for inspiring!