Sick of hearing about poverdy yet?

Guest Post

I am sick of hearing about poverty and how it is such a bad thing. I was brought up in poverty and by that I mean real poverty, barefoot until I got some hand me down boots when I was 8, I bought all my own clothes from when I was 11. We washed once a month and as I was the third child I was third into the bath water.

But my upbringing taught me some valuable lessons and prepared me for my journey through life. I was taught not to steal, as if I did I got a belting, I could not tell lies as if I did I got a belting, I did not use something that belonged to someone else without asking as if I did I got a belting, if I was disrespectful of elders I got a belting. So I do not steal, I am honest and I respect other people and their belongings.    

Then I have the advantages. I learnt the value of money at an early age, I learnt that if you work hard then the rewards are there for you. If I achieved anything I was a success. If I did not achieve I was not a failure. There was no such thing as failure as that is only a comparative position of where you came from and you could not get any lower. Therefore I do not suffer from the problems of some of my friends who were brought up on the right side of the tracks where if they do not succeed they have failed. If they do not grow the family wealth, they have failed. I am fortunate in not having to bear that burden.

I would never give my children the same upbringing as some of it, most of it, was not nice but that also means that they have not had the advantage of the same upbringing experience. But the lessons can be inter-generational like they have been taught to be honest, not steal and to respect others.

My upbringing gave me ambition, it gave me goals like to live in a house with a concrete path, like owning my own house, having a steady and reliable job. It taught me not to dream but to do it as my future was entirely in my hands and it was for me to decide what I wanted, if anything. I chose to achieve.

I do not know what “clicked” me on and made me drive towards a better life as I have two brothers and a sister who have not moved out of “poverty” but have chosen to stay in it and be very happy with their lot. I did not go to University as my parents could not afford to send me and in that time you needed money to go. Anyway, University was for the other people. So I studied by correspondence taking 6 years to complete a three year course.

I am now in a position where my legacy will fund the next two generations as long as they just maintain it. Was it easy, no. Was it hard work, yes. Was it rewarding, definitely.

So, my huge advantage is that through the lessons taught to me by an upbringing of poverty, I can be proud of where I am and no-one else, parents and other forebears, can take the credit. It is all mine if that is the way I want to think.

I do not like the politicians making it a political issue and making it sound as being very negative. There are advantages and disadvantages in all levels of life. Remember you can live in poverty and be very happy just as you can live in comfort and be very unhappy and vice-versa. Happiness is not exclusive. If politicians want to help then show the way forward. Do not give hand-outs, as financial support is temporary by its very nature, but encourage working hard, earning money for themselves, pride, self-education and all the other things that make people a success. The issues are too many and too complex for me to right but although I suspect there are some politicians who have experienced poverty, I suspect that the ones talking about it have not experienced it, do not understand it and are making statements to satisfy their own egos. Do not make those in poverty feel second class. They are not, they are just different.

Poverty can be a choice, my parents made that choice and some of my siblings made that choice. I just made a different choice. They might be right and I might be the one that made the wrong choice, as who are we to judge.

So, instead of talking about being in poverty being a negative thing, please talk about it as presenting an opportunity. Talk about the ways to succeed in life, about goals, about self-improvement, about the choices and about it being your choice. Do not show me pity as there is no pity to be given and I am not interested in that as an emotion. Think of me as being lucky that I had the opportunity to succeed without the pressure from others and that I had the choice. The choices are ours and ours alone. You can succeed if you want to, you and only you can take responsibility for yourself, set your goals and achieve. Remember there is no failure from being in poverty as every achievement is success. Being brought up in poverty is not a barrier, it is an opportunity.

-Name withheld by request

 


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