First World Poverty

My husband and I had an interesting conversation this weekend about poverty in the US.  I think it differs a whole lot from poverty in other non developing countries. I mentioned to my husband that I think most people in the US remain in poverty because of their mentality. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I know that some people have no choice but to live in poverty due to illness, disabilities, or other disparities beyond their control. These people are forced to rely on the government to help them survive. I am not speaking specifically about this class of citizens. I am speaking primarily about people who are lackadaisical about their circumstances and don’t make the effort to change their mindset in order to do better.

I believe everyone has a gift/talent that can be used to help them thrive- a hustle as some would say. There are a plethora of people in poverty who would rather wait the entire year for income tax time instead of perfecting their hustle to make more income on a daily basis. On top of that rather than saving their return to help them through tough times or investing it into something that will continue to grant them a return on investment, they run out and purchase new cars, clothing, and other unnecessary materialistic items. In the long run, they end up back in the same economic situation either completely broke or struggling to live from paycheck to paycheck.  I have never understood this phenomenon.Some people may think that I can not relate because I am not in this situation. But don’t get it twisted. I am NO LONGER in this situation because I made up in my mind that I will not continue to live in poverty!

I came from very humble beginnings. My mother was a single parent who worked 2 jobs to make ends meet and sometimes her income still wasn’t enough. My mom is an awesome woman and she did what she had to do to take care of us.  I remember when I was in the 8th grade that all of my friends were wearing the newest Nike AirMax tennis shoes. My mom couldn’t afford to splurge on a $120 pair of Nikes at the time so she purchased me a pair of  Lower Eastside tennis shoes from Payless Shoe Source. I got teased everyday because of my “bobo shoes”. I remember sitting in my bedroom one afternoon after being teased at school all day and that day I vowed to myself that I would not live in poverty for the rest of my life. I went to my guidance counselor the next day and begged her to grant me a work permit. She felt I was a very smart student and that working a few hours a week wouldn’t impact my studies so she gave me one. My first unofficial job was at age 13 working with my mom’s friend on Saturdays as an assistant maid cleaning villas. I got my first real job at age 14 as concession stand worker on the beach in Hilton Head Island and I have been working hard ever since.  I knew I wanted more from my life so I worked hard, I used my gift of hair braiding as a side hustle, and I studied hard so that I could get a scholarship to go to school. Working and going to school full time was a struggle but well worth it. Even though I was in school, I was still mostly broke but determined. The day I graduated from college was a turning point in my life.  It was the day I knew that I finally wouldn’t have to live in poverty again (as long as I did what I had to do to keep my certifications and licensure current). I have God and the determination to live a better life. I believe as long as I keep God first, He will continue to grant me the desires of my heart.

Many people don’t have this same determination. They whine and complain about their circumstances but they never stop to come up with a plan to change their situation.  Whenever I return to my hometown, I feel like I am walking through the twilight zone. Some of the same people who were in poverty when I was younger are still in the same predicament.  I have come to realize that a person who is poverty in their mind may never get out of poverty.  They have to make up in their mind that they want to end the cycle. Unfortunately too many have become comfortable in the wheel of despair. I am not going to sit here and tell you that there is a quick fix to get out of poverty.  You have to really want it. It takes prayer, determination, faith, positive thinking, and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears but the outcome is definitely worth it.

I will never forget where I came from. It is what motivates me to continue moving on those days when I want to give up. God has brought me a mighty long way on this journey. I guarantee that He can do the same for you. This seems like my solution for everything here lately but honestly the first thing one has to do is change their mind to get the ball rolling. I bet you didn’t know the mind was so powerful!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you think poverty can be changed by first changing your mind?

 

Until next post,

Brittany

 

5 thoughts on “First World Poverty

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  2. Hi Brittany,
    Thank you for this post and for sharing your inspirational story.

    Here in Australia, a growing number of individuals who now live below the poverty line (over 2 million Australians and over half a million Australian children) fall under the category of low-income families or the ‘working poor’ as well as single-parent families. While this does not conform to the images we often see of poverty and life on the streets, families struggling to put food on the table, or those failing to find secure housing are quickly becoming the new face of poverty in the First World.

    While I acknowledge that individuals do hold a degree of autonomy and thus, when given a choice may choose a life of unemployment, I must argue that many of the millions of individuals currently living in poverty do not do so by choice. Despite presenting Australian statistics, I believe this is reflective of most First World nations facing this growing epidemic.

    Thanks

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