We grew up poor as church mice. We didn’t know it at the time, but… (insert your story)
I have heard this story over and over. It is often true. Looking back, we re-evaluate our lives with new lenses and new tools. This can be useful. But embracing an identity of poverty can have long term negative psychological effects, as those who were poor strive to “never be there again.”
If you grew up in similar conditions to many around you, how poor were you? Yes, I know there are realities of poverty such as lower educational outcomes, poorer health, and fewer opportunities. But why do we pathologize normalcy? Pathologies are illnesses and unhealth that much be corrected. Poverty remains a comparative metric. The poverty line in the US for a family of 5 is roughly $31,000. Below that, and it is difficult to pay bills. That same line would be ludicrous in some countries. In other places, it is not nearly enough.
What is more important I believe is the stories that we tell ourselves. I grew up poor is a narrative that allows many people to better themselves. That same narrative can demotivate, or activate imposter syndrome.
If we look back and say “I had a pretty normal upbringing for the time and the place that I grew up,” how would that change the way we see ourselves and others? I grew up in this strange world where I went to school with people who had more than us, but went to church with people who often had less than us. We had large homes and we had small homes. Our vehicles were occasionally new, but rarely. But when I look back, my experience growing up was not determined by my economics but my relationships and my opportunities to be a kid,.
Thinking for today.