I’m standing in the grocery store check-out line, work clothes on, hair in a tight bun, and my leather, three-year-old Michael Kors purse swung over my shoulder.
I was tapping my debit card on the counter, as the cashier was trying to fix her computer, and I may have been a little irritated due to a crazy work day and the eyes of the man in line behind me fixed on my back.
I knew it was coming when my eyes met his, before the words even left his mouth. Looking me up and down, focusing his glare on my MK bag, he says, “Wow, your parents must really spoil you.” My front teeth bit the tip of my tongue as he rolled his eyes.
It wasn’t playful, he wasn’t even remotely kidding, and I wasn’t happy. Spoiled ? Did this man know that I went out and bought myself this bag after working two crappy waitress jobs one summer when I was 19? Did he know I was dressed like this because I had just finished an entire work day followed by a two hour work event?
Yes, I was incredibly blessed and thankful to be born into and to grow up in an upper-middle class family. This was because I have two parents who worked their butts off to give me and my older brother everything we have. The most important thing they gave us? Their work ethic.
Yes, my parents put me through college. After I got a C my first semester Freshman year, my dad said, “I’m not paying for you to go to school to get bad grades. Work harder or you’ll come home.” So I graduated with a 3.7 GPA (damn biology).
Yes, my parents gave me my car and yes, my parents paid for my groceries while I was in college because they didn’t want me working while I was in school. Yes, I am forever thankful more than they know.
Lucky? Yes. But luck isn’t what got me to this point.
Every summer I worked one, if not two, sometimes three jobs over the course of those three short months to make my own money to have and to spend. I was twelve years old when I started my first job and when I was sixteen I would work a morning, an evening, and a late night shift. I never had to ask my parents for money to go out to eat or to the mall like my other friends did. I never turned down picking up another shift because I could afford not to.
Today, I work for a non-profit in an entry level position. One paycheck just barely covers my rent and bills for the month. The other goes towards my dog, my groceries, and I’m left with a little extra spending money (mostly spent on clothes because I inherited not only my work ethic from my parents but their shopping addiction, too.)
And guess what? I love it. I work as hard as I can for what I have, and I’m proud to call it mine. Not because it was handed to me, but because I worked for it.
My parents instilled in me that money isn’t important, but always doing your best was. When my older brother didn’t want to go to school, but instead start his own business – one that he’s been damn successful with – my parents weren’t heartbroken that he didn’t choose the traditional route, they were excited to see him want to work for it instead.
I complain about work Monday mornings. I complained about every paper I had to write in college. But I loved it, because every Monday and every goal reached is a little bit closer to the bigger picture, my picture. So to my friend in the grocery store, this isn’t what spoiled looks like and this isn’t luck. It’s effort, it’s hard work, and it’s mine.