If I Was Born With More, Would I Have Less?

If I Was Born With More, Would I Have Less?


Life’s Not Fair

We don’t get to choose the families we are born into and we do nothing to deserve being born at an advantage or disadvantage.

While it’s easy to look at those with more than you and quickly become jealous of them, sometimes it helps to take a step back and ask yourself if being born at an “advantage” is actually an advantage.

Whether you have a lot or a little, an important factor to leading a successful life is taking advantage of what you do have – even if that’s not much.

Regardless of what situation you were born in, you can always end up worst off if you don’t take advantage of the opportunities you do have.

It’s really that simple.

For those born with access to excellent education, unlimited financial support, and lots of breaks – if they don’t take advantage of these benefits, they’ll likely end up doing nothing with their lives.

This is easy to see in celebrities but can also be brought down to a more realistic level to help us keep those feelings of envy at bay.

Having Everything, Having Nothing

I recently learned of a friend who is 30 and moved back home a year ago after quitting her job. She was born to an upper-middle-class family, her college was fully paid for, but she had little work experience. Not happy with the jobs she found, she moved back home.

Looking at this situation from the envy side, this person is living rent free, happily unemployed, with parents who care about her. She doesn’t need to work, doesn’t need to pay rent, and is still being fully supported. This came up in conversation because she decided recently to move to new york city. Her parents supported her decision and said they would provide “starter funds” and cover her rent while she is looking for a job.

For 10 seconds while listening to this person, I was overcome with jealousy that someone has so many resources and I don’t and my life is always hard and it’s not fair.

Then I snapped out of it.

Because at the end of the day, what does this girl have? She doesn’t have a job, she doesn’t have an apartment, she doesn’t have her own funds. She can’t live on her own at all.

What Am I Really Jealous Of

Taking a good look at my life, I realized that I have a lot more than this person. I don’t have financial or emotional assistance from family but I do have my own apartment and a solid career. Two things that I’ve worked very hard on my own to get. No one gave them to me and no one can take them away.

There have been countless times where I’ve daydreamed what it would be like to grow up in a better family. I imagine my life being easier… but would it actually be better?

At the end of the day, what am I actually jealous of? Someone who is 30, lives at home, can’t pay her own rent, and is 100% dependent. Why would I be jealous of that?


8 Replies to “If I Was Born With More, Would I Have Less?”

  1. You make good points here; it’s all relative.

    I think jealousy — an admittedly uncomfortable emotion — can clue us in to things about our lives that we are uncomfortable with or needs we have that are insufficiently met. Understanding your family situation a bit, I am not deluded that you could magically wake up with parents that invite you to live in their home rent-free. That’s not my point. However, maybe some of the things that are underpinning that jealousy are things you could have in another way that meets your needs. (I am just making things up here as examples, but I’m not in your head so I don’t know exactly what these things are). For example, maybe the idea of deep financial independence that this friend’s situation implies — no matter what, her parents can bail her out — is something you can achieve with your own money. Maybe it’s close relationships. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, my guess is you are already working on whatever these things are that were causing the jealousy. I think using that jealousy that comes up, even momentarily, can be incredibly productive this way.

    The best part is, I think you can have all these benefits without having to negatively assess your friend’s situation. Maybe dependence or paying her own rent are not priorities, or maybe she just isn’t at a point yet where she has the resources to identify and go after what she wants. You can own your own journey without justifying whether you “should” or “shouldn’t” be jealous of her; just use the feelings that come up as information to move you forward!


    1. I really appreciate the thought-out response. I do try to use it, as you said, to help me take a step back and be grateful for the things I have and realize that we all start at different places. It’s just that for those 10 seconds, I completely forget everything I have in my life and feel sorry for myself. Then I snap out of it and re-assess. So it is helpful in that way.

      Your mention of different priorities is a good one – I rarely think about that. I suppose it’s rather self-centered to assume that others’ priorities are the same as mine. Thanks for the reality check on that one.

  2. I think it’s easy to get sucked into the “she’s so lucky” mindset when you hear about people like that. I know I’ve been there and felt the pangs of jealousy. But at the end of the day, I want to be independent and rely on myself rather than depend on others to support me. That’s important for my sense of self-worth. To me not taking a job because it wasn’t what I wanted in the long run simply wasn’t an option. I took the jobs that were available and made the best of them until I could make a change to something better. I can no more fathom moving home because I wasn’t happy with the jobs available to me, than I can fathom winning the lottery. :)

  3. I will always, always, ALWAYS be jealous of people with good, loving families. Because that can never be replaced.

    I will never have a mother who loved me and hugged me and always did right by me. I can never have that. It’s hard not to envy someone who did. I can never have siblings who would do anything for me, and who call me every day and say they love me. That will never be my life.

    Not only does it suck having a bad family, but having a bad family creates a shaky foundation for future relationships, and it creates rifts between you and those you might love. I have little doubt that my never had a relationship problem stems from my mother showing me that relationships are unstable scream fests.

    Anyway, sorry, this turned into a rant, but honestly, it’s love that I envy most. People who are loved are blessed. My grandmother is all I have. I’m so lucky I have at least her, but the rest of my family is a difficult pill to swallow. : (

  4. This reminds me of my family in a lot of ways. I WAS very fortunate that my parents/grandparents paid for my college, and did my best to honor that by doing well in school and getting a job after…bla bla bla. My hard times didn’t hit till much later but I’ve been able to support myself since I was in my early 20’s. And also get myself out of tough financial situations that I put myself in. After all it was MY mistake to deal with. My brother on the other hand is two years older than me and has been enabled by my family since he was a teenager. He’s had handout after handout and is the most ungrateful, selfish, mean, loser on the planet (i say that with love because I certainly don’t like him one bit). Would I trade places with him? Not for a second!

    If your friend continues down that path, she will always have to be someone who “needs” someone to take care of her. She will never develop that survival muscle that comes in really handy when the shit really hits the fan.

  5. God I love your blog. I stumbled upon it by googling “saving while living in New York City.” I find it very hard to relate to books/blogs about money because they are hardly ever written from the perspective of a young professional living in a big city. Rent as one third of your income? Har har har! Max out your 401K? Hilarious.

    I do look at some of my “kept” friends and occasionally envy them. Then I remember that no one has ever bought me a car, no one ever paid my rent, and the things I have I literally had to struggle for. Struggle creates character, and I have tons of it.

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