I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on where I’ve been, where I currently am, and where I want to be in the future. Part of this reflection involves looking back on the 18 years I spent under my parents’ roof, abiding by their rules, eating their food, and overall just sucking the money and energy right out of them. I am so grateful for everything they have done for me and given me, but I am also thankful for the things they have not.
You see, my parents didn’t give me the world. When I went to Target with my mom as a kid, I learned to never ask her to buy me anything that wasn’t a necessity. I knew the question would always be answered with, “if you really want it, you can buy it with your own money”. When I was in high school and I wanted money to go do things with my friends, very rarely did I ask my dad. I knew he most likely wouldn’t fish out his wallet and hand me a $20 bill. That’s just not how my parents work.
While my upbringing was certainly one of privilege, my parents didn’t give me the world. I didn’t have all the toys or the fancy clothes or even a bedroom of my own (that is, until I eventually took it for myself). It wasn’t an “ask and you shall receive” environment. It was a “if you want it, work for it” one.
For example, when I was 16 I wanted my own bedroom. I was tired of sharing a room with my messy little sister that I didn’t get along with at all. So I decided to work for my own room, because when I asked my parents they didn’t let me have it right away. We had a spare bedroom in our house that had once been our playroom, but at that point my siblings and I were pretty much too old to be playing with toys, much less have a room dedicated to it. I threw away the broken toys, donated and sold the things that were no longer being used, cleaned out the room, and moved my own bedroom furniture in there. My parents weren’t exactly thrilled at first (apparently they saw some sort of value of me sharing a room with my disagreeable sister), but eventually they came around. Because I saw something I wanted, wasn’t immediately given it, and instead worked hard for it.
Being raised in that environment has directly impacted my attitude about many things in my adult life. I am so glad that my parents didn’t give me everything. I wish I could go back and look at myself at a time that I was whining or being a brat for not getting something that I wanted and just say “you will appreciate this immensely later in life”. My parents made sure I was healthy and comfortable, but not once did they break a sweat about not getting me the latest gadget.
My parents taught me that hard work leads to success. If you want your own bedroom, it’s not going to be given to you. But if you want to work for it, you can have it. I’ve taken this attitude and applied it to my adult life, whether that be straight up asking a company if they need an intern (it turns out that they did) or doing all the possible extra credit before asking a professor to round my final grade up. I am confident that I could not have developed this mindset without the help of my parents.
So Mom and Dad– thank you for not giving me the world. Thank you for giving me what I needed and ensuring that I understood the value of hard work. In not giving me the world, somehow you managed to still give me an incredibly priceless gift.