Recently I encountered a very angry young man who called me a “Bougie Baby Boomer.” He resented the fact that I was living so much better than he was. He seemed to feel that we should be in the exact same place in terms of comfort and financial stability.
To that I say, “Wait a minute, whipper snapper. It was a long, hard slog to get to where I am. You have to earn it.”
I remember the years when I lived in a tent. I remember sweating to pay off my student loans (although, granted, these loans are a lot more substantial for the current generation.) I remember having lawn chairs in the front half of my studio apartment for years on end, and a mattress on the floor because I couldn’t afford box springs. I remember surviving on canned soup with rice added in, and generic macaroni and cheese. I’ve been working since I was 10 years old.
I saw my 50th birthday long before I ever had more than one pair of shoes that wasn’t bought at a thrift store. My husband had to convince me it was okay to buy more than one pair of jeans at a time. I only recently got a phone plan that wasn’t pay by the minute.
At the risk of sounding horribly conservative, I really think it’s insane to expect everything to be handed to you on a silver platter. Getting to a point where you aren’t waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, wondering how you’re going to pay the bills, takes a lot of hard work, planning, and delayed gratification.
I was so excited today to be able to give my niece a Home Depot gift card as she’s moving into her first house. That was something I couldn’t have done until very recently. It feels good to be able to behave generously for a change. It brings tears to my eyes. It’s a luxury I couldn’t afford in my younger days.
I’m not rich by any means. And I am painfully aware that not everyone gets to pop their head out of the lower class. I never thought I would. But I’ve passed the soup and rice stage.
I’m not overly thrilled with our capitalist society. But like it or not, we are in this system. We are stuck playing by its rules.
So yeah, kid, you’re going to have to eat your share of Ramen noodles as you climb that mountain. Most of us have struggled to get where we are. It builds character. Man up.