Growing up poor isn’t easy, but it teaches vital life lessons that shape a person’s perspective on life. For me, growing up in a large family of six siblings and parents with only $200 to their name was a challenging experience. My family had to work 16-hour shifts in factories to support us, and we shared a small home with 11 people, living on limited resources. Being poor, I often envied the material possessions of others, constantly comparing myself to those who seemed to have it all. However, as I have grown older, I have realized that my upbringing has taught me valuable lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from my family’s experience growing up poor is the importance of giving. Even in our most challenging times, my grandmother always welcomed anyone into our home who was less fortunate than us, providing them with food and a listening ear. This generosity didn’t go unnoticed, and eventually, many of the people my grandmother had assisted became lifelong customers when she opened her nail salon. The lesson here is that generosity can go a long way, even in the most challenging of circumstances. When you give to others, you are more likely to receive kindness back in return.
Another lesson I learned from my family’s experience is the importance of creativity in solving problems. Growing up poor, money was always tight, but my family never let that stop us from enjoying our lives. One example of our resourcefulness occurred when we decided to take our first family vacation. We could not afford an alarm system for our home while we were on vacation, so my grandfather put up a Vietnamese radio station and allowed our neighbors to park in our driveway. This made it appear as though we were still at home, deterring any potential burglars from breaking in. This experience taught me that you can accomplish anything, regardless of how big or small the challenge may seem to be, with a little creativity and resourcefulness.
Comparing oneself to others is a common pitfall, but it’s not a good idea to focus too much on external appearances or anyone else’s success. It is so easy to compare yourself with others and feel inadequate. Growing up, I would often look at what others were eating and wish that I had the same luxury of eating whatever I wanted. But my aunt once wise told me to focus on the fact that others had enough and not to compare myself to them. This lesson has stayed with me throughout my life. Even today, as a successful adult with a substantial income, I have realized that happiness does not come from material possessions or comparing yourself to others. Instead, true happiness comes from within and focusing on what you do have, rather than what you don’t.
Another important lesson I’ve learned is the importance of asking for what you want or need. When you are poor, asking is a necessary part of life. You must ask for discounts, extensions on payments, or any other assistance available. This lesson has taught me that asking is vital to achieving one’s goals. My father once found a used bike in a neighbor’s trash, and he asked for it, saving the money he would have spent on a new bike. I learned from this experience that the worst that can happen is that someone will tell you no. However, there is always an opportunity that someone will say yes, so it is essential always to ask, and you may be surprised by the results.
Finally, growing up poor has taught me the importance of finding a good solution versus a perfect one. My father volunteered to give free manicures to all the women who worked in customer service and secretarial roles at his factory while he was studying for his nail technician license, which saved him both time and money. He didn’t have the luxury of being able to attend non-weekend classes, and therefore, he had to find an alternative solution. This experience has taught me that being resourceful is essential and that sometimes, even the most unconventional solutions can be the best.
In conclusion, growing up poor isn’t easy, but it has taught me many invaluable life lessons. From the importance of giving to being creative in problem-solving, there is much to learn from our struggles. From comparing our belongings to others to realizing that true happiness comes from within, there is much to gain from our experiences. I believe that the most valuable lessons aren’t always the easiest to learn, and growing up poor has taught me many vital life lessons that I apply on a daily basis to achieve my dreams and aspirations.