Do you know how everyone says things were easier when we were kids? How they fantasize about a time we had no worries and just thought of how we could go outside and play with our friends? I don’t think this applies if you grow up poor.
I was on my way to work this very day and locked eyes with a child in a uniform being driven in her parent’s car. Instantly, I was filled with an unfathomable amount of jealousy. Growing up, my parents could barely afford a vehicle and talked more about taking me to school in one. I had to either trek to school or use the public transportation system.
At that stage, I was extremely envious of kids that were brought to school in their parent’s car. And here is the thing about experiencing jealousy as a child, it is unprecedented. There is no basis to gauge your emotions. I mean, you can barely process emotions at such a young age. As an adult, it is easier to deal with jealousy. There are quotes on the internet you can easily access that can boost your self-esteem; there are friends you can talk to who might drag you out of your green haze of envy.
The weirdest thing about growing up poor is that you adopt absurd standards as the hallmark of wealth or comfort. For me, apart from car ownership, another absurd standard of wealth was having tiles in your house. Did you chuckle at that? Maybe you did.
Why was this a standard of wealth for me? At that time, tiles were not so common, and only the comfortable middle class could afford them in their home. I had always imagined how easy it must be to clean tiles with a long mop stick instead of crouching down to clean the floor with a rag.
Another standard of wealth for me was owning a television. My parents never really bothered with providing that type of entertainment for my siblings and I.
I can remember peeping through a neighbor’s window to watch television. This particular day, I was peeping through the window as usual, watching a show on the television, and a guest was served fried plantain. I drooled at that plantain and wondered what it must feel like to be served plantain when visiting someone. Well, guess what… till date, plantain remains my favorite food.
How Growing Up Poor Affects You As An Adult
According to studies, disadvantaged children have more difficulty overcoming poverty as adults. For example, researchers at Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty discovered in 2009 that children who grew up poor were more likely to experience poverty as adults and that the likelihood of being poor in adulthood increased with the number of years spent in poverty as a child.
Another effect growing up poor has on you is that even when you have attained some level of comfort, you are plagued with this fear that you may easily return to being poor with one misstep! It’s like you are always grappling as some unknown pole so as not to return to being poor.
Growing up poor makes you vow that you will never put your kids through what you went through. You will want your kids to experience the best life, to have all the good things in life, and to have success at their fingertips.
Growing up poor actually affects your self-esteem to a reasonable extent. Research shows that kids that grow up poor are prone to suffer from low self-esteem and confidence because they believe they are incapable of meeting their own needs.
Psychological and Emotional Impact of Growing Up Poor
Various research is conducted on how being poor affects one psychologically and emotionally.
Let’s look at some of the impacts of growing up poor:
1. You are overly focused on survival
You probably find yourself thinking about how to survive the next few days or weeks. With this outlook on life, you might not be invested in greater goals because you are primarily concerned about the nearest future. Even when you allow yourself to dream a little about success, you are convinced that such dreams will never become a reality.
According to a Chicago Policy Review paper, Children raised in poor environments are at risk of developing learned helplessness – “a condition in which children feel as if they have no power to change or control their circumstances.”
2. Never Feeling Good Enough
This is a feeling I have struggled with all my life. This feeling permeates everything you do! For instance, I always shy away from leadership roles because I am convinced I am not good enough to handle leadership positions.
Growing up in poverty makes you believe that whatever you do is not good enough, and that you always have to do more.
3. Less Confident in your Ability to Succeed
This is also closely related to the points discussed above. The findings on how individuals feel about themselves when they are poor may be more destructive in the long run. They are less confident in their abilities to achieve, which leads to lower professional and educational attainment, as well as sadness and anxiety.
Overcoming the Poverty Mentality
A poverty mentality hinders you from taking advantage of possibilities that may present themselves as your get-out-of-poverty card. It also puts you in a condition of despondency, where you’ve accepted where you are and no longer seek to get out. Are there ways to overcome this mentality? Yes, of course!
Below are practical ways of overcoming poverty mentality:
1. Get financial education.
Learning about money from a personal and global finance viewpoint is one thing that can improve your outlook. If you do, you will see that a poverty mindset is frequently fueled by money misconceptions. The assumption that money is unattainable and that you are doomed to remain in the financial situation into which you are born are all misconceptions that may be dispelled with proper financial education.
2. Surround yourself with friends who have a wealth mindset
The individuals you interact with have a greater influence on your mentality than you realize. Everyday conversations, exchanges on Twitter, and Instagram stories are just a few examples of how these connections may alter your perspective on life.
You would think like the people around you if you are surrounded by folks who have a poverty and scarcity attitude. You will find it tough to think differently. This is why you should meet and engage with new individuals who have diverse perspectives.
It might begin with the individuals you follow on social media, the YouTube channels you subscribe to, and so on. Being deliberate about who you surround yourself with will assist in modifying how you think about money.
3. Have a financial plan
When things become fuzzy, this will help you stay grounded in your reality. The harsh reality is that considering money and embracing a prosperity and abundance attitude will be difficult, particularly if you are battling financial security. This is why you need a strategy to keep you grounded in your abundant attitude while you earn riches.
4. Embrace positivity and possibility
Much of the necessary change will take place in your thinking. It’s called the poverty mindset for a reason. Though it appears in real-life events, it is primarily abstract. Ideas, beliefs, and belief systems.
It’s time to abandon pessimism and embrace positivity. Allow your words to represent a new way of thinking. Rather than stating, ‘I can never afford it.’ Instead, say, ‘I can’t afford that right now.’ Stop seeing those who are performing better than you as rivals or opponents.
5. Take responsibility
Recognize that you are the mastermind behind your riches. Is it true that there are mechanisms in place that make financial stability more difficult to achieve? It is, indeed.
There are certain things over which you have no control. However, concentrating on such things will not get you anywhere. The correct course of action is to concentrate on what you can manage and correct it. When you begin to take responsibility for your financial destiny, you will be shocked at how much power you have.
6. Focus on what you have
Growing up makes you quite envious of people you think have it easy. This envy can make you lose track of what you have.
Scarcity is at the heart of a poor mindset. Money, employment, and opportunities are in short supply. This shifts the emphasis from what you truly have to what you don’t. As a result, you feel disadvantaged, as if life has been unjust to you and only you. Concentrating on what you have increases hope and optimism. It gives you the perspective of ‘if I can have this, then I can have other things I desire.’
Bottomline on How Growing Up poor affects your life
Many people dismiss the effect growing up poor may have on them even after attaining some level of comfort. The poverty mentality mind can easily permeate your subconscious and may require some practical steps to overcome.