I decided to write a personal story for everyone here about something that happened to me recently so that hopefully your eyes can be opened.
Let's start with some back-story. I am a student with an IQ and test scores in the top 5% of the U.S. and, in addition to that, graduated college with
many degrees and work on many projects including artistic and scientific ones and even business ventures.
However, due to circumstances outside of my control, I have had trauma and other issues in my life that has caused me to be on government services -
of which I am trying to get off when I can. I struggled NOT to get them, but alas, it was the only option in the end.
Between anxiety and my abilities that are placed in odd arenas and holes in others, I am not a easy placement for a 9-5 job.
I was not going to go on food stamps because I thought it was beneath me, but after starving for four months straight I did and was able to get other
finances in order easier because of this - food stamps have helped me to be able to save and make emergency funds.
They are empowering.
My sister, also affected by some of the traumatic incidents outside of our control that hurt our family, also recently went on a four-month starvation
streak before finally applying for food stamps. Neither of us feel safe asking our parents for help because we feel guilty, and both of us are highly
My sister is not only a chemistry major, she graduated in fashion design, had a 4.0 GPA at her private high school, and is a sought-after model as
well as fashion designer in the Portland area. Part of it is admittedly the cost of doing her passion.
My resume includes organizing regional rock festivals, recording over 10 studio albums, producing various music videos and graduating with a math /
physics / psychology major and a computer science among many other things.
I remember one time I was slated to perform on stage with a member from Guns and Roses, and the stage manager told me to "get off" because my
equipment wasn't up to par - well we made up in the end, but the truth is, I don't rely on top-of-the-line equipment or meta game, but raw talent and
Anyway, my sister and I are both on government assistance because, believe it or not, times are tough. Besides choosing to be artists (I am slowly
working on transitioning into other areas of work) we have had and do have a lot of legitimate reasons our lives aren't perfect.
Now let me give you this story. It's the main one I was going to share, about how vulnerable someone on a low budget can be.
The other day, my tire blew out because I ran over a piece of road rubble and I was not smart enough to stop my car right away and put on the spare -
in fact, I didn't actually figure out the tire went flat in time to salvage it. That meant that I had to get the tire to Les Swab and find $110 to
replace it, which I did not have - when my floating funds every month are in the negative (meaning I make some payments some months, and others
others) it is hard to come up with $110. It can involve starving sometimes to get that extra "reserve cash."
At any rate, I had to call on my parents for assistance, and they were originally quite angry at me - I had to try to explain to them that I was not
trying to go out of my way to destroy my tires so that they would have to pay for them. I explained that I needed their help because I was weak, not
because I was trying to hurt myself for no apparent reason.
At any rate, even though I don't make enough money to eat (but I do get some food stamps), I told my mom how I was planning on putting away $110 in a
special fund in case of another tire emergency. This is because I am learning to be resilient! It can be quite fun as a member of A.T.S., to be
My mom was very kind and said that she would donate money to that emergency fund.
There is always another emergency hiding around the corner, and people who are well-off might not have empathy towards that kind of stress because of
their lack of propinquity - I will tell you that I take caring about people seriously and although I am having a hard time, I am using it to learn
about situations people are in that I was not lucky enough to experience when growing up in the top 1% of my town.
I have been through a lot of hell. My whole family was affected by a mass shooting at an Air Force Base when I was 9 years old, in fact, my
psychiatrist and his whole office got shot in the heads. That was when I was being treated for autism and since then I ended up with P.T.S.D. -
nothing is as simple as it seems.
Oftentimes, if you are shunning someone for not putting in the effort they need to put in to get assistance, you are more than likely the one who
hasn't put in the effort needed to deserve the life you happened to get. That is my honest, and unbiased
, surprisingly, opinion after observing
many different life scenarios.
Let's take a look at that from an unbiased angle. Yes, there are going to be successful people out there with little empathy for those who struggled -
and they might lack character for that - and there are going to be successful people out there who have faced diversity, and they are going to be
harder, better, faster, stronger.
The advice I want to give to someone who happens to be a successful person with little empathy for the poor is not negative advice - I would actually
recommend going on a mission, working with low-end people, volunteering,
My first mission was going to Tijuana, Mexico in order to help rebuild a school there and doing things like that I think can make a real difference
where it really matters.
I'm crazy - I would even go homeless for a year and travel the states by rail, keeping a journal, just because that's how I am - and how dedicated I
am to learning what this country has to offer, what the people have to offer, and finding real soul. I'm a writer at heart, a journalist, an
adventurer, and I will stand up to whatever is in my way - I remind myself of Hemingway in some respects, and I did grow up in Idaho for some of my
One of my friends did happen to go homeless for two years and traveled the country out of her car - even though she was an accomplished student and
had graduated from a prestigious European University. That's hardly relevant to this story, but she had some troubles as well. Often really
intelligent people these days have trouble making it in modern society due to being different - and being different is shunned by hostile nuero
typicals more than it should be.
There is a lot more to life than that 9-5 job, and what I'm saying, is that if as a well-off person, you aren't empathetic to people who have to use
what's around them to make the best of life every day you are missing out as well - it's not just a criticism, but an opportunity, for growth, for
adventure, and for feeling alive.
edit on 19amSat, 19 Apr 2014 01:38:07 -0500kbamkAmerica/Chicago by darkbake because: (no reason