And any time I have to buy glasses, I think back on Past Rachel, so frustrated at all the wealth passing by and around her, unable and disempowered to grasp the things she needed like glasses and braces. It was so frustrating and lonely. No one can really understand that frustration unless they’ve lived in real poverty before.
If I had to send a message back to Past Rachel, it would be, “Don’t stop trying! Struggle! Struggle! Fight! Fight!” But I don’t think I would have needed the words of encouragement. I got a lot of emotional support from my mother and communities. I did manage to climb out of rural American poverty. As an adult who makes money and can afford Nice Things, I try to keep myself from feeling entitled. I always look back on all the good things and good people who happened to me. A lot of it was down to me trying hard, but it was equally down to luck and the support of the communities I was a part of and helped build.
You can’t roll over when faced with opposition, be it a bad review or someone learning that you didn’t get the job. You have to get up and press onward. You have to get up again. Otherwise, you may as well just lay there and die.
But when I see someone who keeps getting knocked down every time they get up, I get upset. It usually indicates that something is off or unbalanced. Success is equal parts hard work and opportunity. If opportunity isn’t there, what’s the point in working hard? That is an attitude that wipes out populations, causes suicide and wars. Sometimes, people work hard, and nothing comes of it. I can’t stand to hear people say, “Oh, they just need to work harder!” or “You just weren’t trying hard enough.” You can’t squeeze blood from a stone.
If you keep getting knocked down, my best advice that I would have given myself in that situation, knowing now what I didn’t know then, is move. Get into a new line of work, go to a new town. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the definition of madness. You can’t always live your dreams. Some of them are lost causes. You can’t always stay where your heart is. A seed cannot flourish on barren ground. You can always come back to these things later, from a more secure position. Whatever you do, don’t wallow. You have to get up. And sometimes, you have to run.
I am done rambling.