Kids born into the life of luxury often have a skewed vision of reality. They don't understand the value of a dollar or they never learned how to be independent or maybe they just never had to work for anything. Either way, their sheltered privilege can only last for so long. As time goes by, reality seeps in and they have to come to terms with some shocking truths.
We wanted to know more about these 'ah-ha' moments when rich kids realized their wealth. Did they grow from it? What finally made them realize it? We looked throughout Reddit and found these shocking moments and they will surely surprise you. This content was edited for clarity.
How Do You…Orange?
“It was military boot camp, during training, I was hungry like a vampire at a blood bank. The fruit of the day was oranges. Whole, unpeeled orangey balls of edible glory. I wanted that orange so badly but had no idea how to peel it. I ate my food relatively slow so that I didn’t finish my food too early and end up staring at my orange as if it’s an alien’s ball. I slyly waited for someone else to start peeling before emulating him, but somehow I end up with a badly squashed, untidily peeled orange ball that tasted like hard reality.”
The $5 Fortune
“I wasn’t necessarily spoiled but I definitely grew up in a very privileged family. Upper middle class, academic dad and lawyer mum. I was 17 and I got a job as a porter at a hotel to save and travel for a bit before going to uni (my dad lives in Singapore so I figured SE Asia).
I went to Indonesia, Yogyakarta to see Borobudur, and I was staying in a decent-but-not-crazy-fancy hotel near the temple. It was my first night and I had no idea if tipping was the normal thing and didn’t have any rupiah on me so I put a US $5 bill under my plate when I left (working in a hotel, you get foreign currency tips, the note was worth more as a novelty, to be honest).
As the waitress cleared the plates and I was walking away, she freaked out, thinking I had left it there. She didn’t speak a lot of English but I got it across that it was a tip and she basically broke down. It was just a little money so I was really confused.
Made the mistake of googling median wages of the area when I got back. Median, not even minimum, salary is about $3,000 US a year. What I made in about two hours at a minimum wage hotel job, she made in a week busting her butt for 80 hours. I tipped WELL all through my trip. Even bought the crappy nicknacks from the hawkers by the temple. It was gutting.”
From The Lap Of Luxury To Middle Class
“I grew up in extreme wealth then went to living very humbly. I’m half Saudi, so I had maids all my young life who practically wiped my arse. I remember whenever I and my brothers got off the airplane we were driven to the executive ‘gold’ lounge. Basically, we were minted.
However, my parents got divorced and my mother decided, rightly, I should live with her back in the England. So, I went from maids in a mansion where my bedroom was bigger than most people’s entire floor to sharing a tiny bedroom with my brothers.
I remember my first time washing dishes at school, I did it with cold water and the other students laughed and said you’re supposed to do it with warm/hot water. I even had to wear second-hand uniforms. But it was the best thing to happen to me ever because when I went back and met some of my old ‘friends,’ they were just not normal people.
This is when it really hit me because I just saw how different they were. Fully grown men being catered for by maids in their old age, do they have no shame? Rich coming from me, but hey, I mended my ways. Whenever I visited my father I saw my step brother who continued being spoiled. He is a 35-year-old man who never had a job and leeched off his mom.
Our maid was like 60, she cleaned his clothes, washed his dishes, everything. I refused to let the maid do anything for me. To see such a difference was what made me grateful. I am so glad I didn’t continue growing up spoiled.
Frankly, I didn’t grow up poor either, my perspective of poverty was warped compared to real poverty, our tiny shared bedroom was a luxury. I’ve learned never to take anything for granted. I’m so glad I grew up normally. I work hard now, I support my mother, I have pride, something I’d never have if I continued being a leech.”
Grew Up Too Spoiled To Deal With Reality
“I never took public transportation until I was 16. I didn’t know how to buy a ticket (or in fact, that a ticket is required). I was on a train from LA to Anaheim when I got busted for that, and my first response was: ‘What do you mean a ticket?’
Also, I had never seen a washer/dryer until college. I had to call my roommate to ask for instructions. I didn’t put in any detergent because didn’t know it was a thing. I’d always had housekeepers do it for me. I was pretty embarrassed since I was going to a public college.
What else… Oh well, I never shopped for groceries before until college. The cashier asked me if I needed cash back and I didn’t know how it worked and thought it’s like a rebate or something where they give you free money for a discount, and I said, ‘Sure as much as possible.’ Then an awkward silence between me, my friend and the cashier for a good minute.
My relationship with my family got worse around my junior year and eventually got to a point where they decided to stop giving me any spending money or paying for my tuition. I had three semesters before graduation and decided to start out on my own. I worked multiple jobs on campus and off campus including working as a busser, delivery, waiter, TA at school, private tutor, late night shift Taco Bell cashier, and so many others.
I gave my Porsche back to my parents (didn’t want to sell it for money because they bought it after all), moved out of my condo and moved in with my friend (the one who helped me with washer/dryer crisis). It took me another two and half years to finish school. I’ve been on my own since then. My wife and I don’t have as much money as I had before, but I’m really happy where we are right now.”
“It Was Common To Have Multiple Maids”
“I grew up in Indonesia, a third world country where you’d definitely have maids if you have the internet. I grew up thinking it was common to have multiple maids.
When I moved to another country, I got assigned to sweep the floors by the teachers. That was my first time holding a broom.
I swept it back and forth like in cartoons, and everyone was looking at me going, ‘Er, what the heck are you doing?’
Turned out I was just creating a dust cloud around me. You have to sweep in one direction and gather all the dust into the dustpan.
My mind was blown.”
His Dad’s Fortune Didn’t Last
“I grew up in a fancy home, more rooms than you could ever need on a large property in a pretty rural area. I got everything I wanted, whenever I wanted; huge plasma tv, DSLR camera, motorbike, pony, etc. But, I never knew what my parents really did for a living. I remember kids always asking what my parents did on the playground. I never knew how to respond.
I soon figured out what my parents did when my dad was arrested for trafficking and the house, cars and everything else was repossessed by the government as profits of crime. I now live in a horrible house that barely stands in a dodgy area of town, it definitely was a shock to the system but I’m adjusting just fine I guess.”
She Dry Cleaned What?
“When I was 16, my parents left for a week vacation and gave me money for the week. Since I didn’t know how to do laundry (never even seen it done), I took all my clothes to the dry cleaner. Even my panties. The cleaners asked three times if I was sure I wanted them dry cleaned. I said yes. Two days later I got eight pairs of panties safety pinned to individual hangers. My ‘laundry’ cost about $90 that week. I just assumed this was all normal.
The real world hit me only much later. It’s only in retrospect I see I was spoiled. Probably around when I had a limited allowance and budget in college.”
He Found His Real Treasure
“I was spoiled rotten until my mid 20’s. My parents gave me anything I wanted. When a new gaming generation came out, I would get every system and essentially every launch game. In high school, I drove nicer cars than all of my classmates’ parents, and I had THREE different cars depending on how I felt. Two of them were brand new sports cars, and the other was older, but still a very desirable sports car. I never paid for gas or insurance. Never paid a phone bill. Didn’t pay for food, movies, snacks–anything. I was given almost limitless amounts of money to spend on whatever I wanted.
My parents paid for my college tuition and I later worked in the family business and was paid a very good wage for being simply who I was. I wasn’t a slouch, per se, but I had a false sense of security due to things being handed to me for years.
My perspective of life was that you are always on an upward trajectory to earn more, more, more. I swore that by 25 I would own a Lamborghini and a half-million dollar house at least. Anything less than that would be an abysmal failure.
While living in this excess, I met a girl who grew up poor. She didn’t live in poverty, but she had to work since a very young age and had to help pay the family’s bills. Basically, she lived a life that I deathly feared. Her financial situation stabilized by the time we started dating, but her life experience gave her a pretty solid background.
I initially approached our relationship from a position of wanting to give her the finer things in life. I spent thousands of my parents’ money on her to take her on trips and buy her jewelry. She was never comfortable with it and frequently said that she is fine with a cheap dinner and a movie. She and I got married and were expecting a child soon after.
My great awakening came when the family business fell to pieces. Suddenly, the endless supply of money stopped. It was so bad that I couldn’t even receive a salary and had to look for a job. I had a college degree, but really no discernable skill set. Finding a job wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for me to do.
I eventually found a very entry level job in a completely different field. The salary was incredibly low by any measure. For the first time had to pay for gas, insurance, phone, food, etc. The high-performance car I drove took premium fuel and got abysmal gas mileage. I sold it and bought the cheapest car I could find that was still safe enough to keep my family on the road.
I never drove anything so cheap in my life, was never paid so little, and had to pay bills for the first time in my life. I had to perform at work because I was almost literally living paycheck to paycheck. I also racked up tons of credit card debt being irresponsible and knowing I could easily pay it…until I couldn’t.
My one constant? My wife was unflappable. She had been in far worse situations before. She was pregnant yet calm cool and collected despite the sudden life change. She didn’t stress and essentially pulled up her sleeves and devised a budget for the household to see us through our new reality. It was clear why we were put together. I thought I was the man! Look who ended up taking care of who.
This experience taught me that money literally didn’t matter. Not only does it not matter, but it can disappear in an instant. I became closer with my wife, new son, and my faith after this experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
From Throwing Fits Over Convertibles To Helping Kids
“I was a spoiled rotten child and also into my teen years. My parents bought me a brand new red convertible for my 16th birthday. I threw a fit over it because what I actually wanted was my brother’s old car (that we still had) which was dark blue in color. I was so shallow and a horrible person back then.
So what really turned me around? That next summer, I took a job as a camp counselor at a local day camp. I did not have to work but I was bored and it sounded like something easy to do. God, I was so wrong. This day camp was specifically geared to the lower classes who could not afford child care during the summer. We served them breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack. For a lot of the camp kids, this was all they would eat that day. On Fridays, they would beg for extra food/snacks to take home for themselves and/or their siblings because they may not get to eat again until Monday. That really hit me hard but that wasn’t the part that got me the most.
This one kid (around 5-6) would refuse to take their shoes and socks off, even if we were going to the public pool that day. I couldn’t understand why until one day he came in limping, like his feet were causing him so much pain. I convinced him to let me help him get his shoes and socks so I could see what might be bothering him. Once I did, it took everything in me not to break down right there. His socks were covered in blood. His poor, tiny little feet were covered in sores and his toes seemed to curl under a bit. He was in so much pain from the state of his feet. It turned out he had been wearing shoes about three sizes too small. His family couldn’t afford new shoes. I took my lunch break and went out to buy him new socks and a few pairs of shoes.
This broke me, which I definitely needed. It changed my way of thinking forever.”
A Hot Dog Life Lesson
“I wasn’t spoiled rotten but I had one experience that changed me. My family was middle class. We had a $90k home and two parents who were working (at the time).
My dad was a pastor and he used to hold ‘a day in the park’ thing where he would get a food cart, buy all the food with his own money and collect lightly used clothes to give to the homeless.
Not a lot of people came. In fact, I will never eat Grandma’s vanilla creme cookies ever again. That’s how many bags leftover we always had.
Anyways, I was 14 or something, on the food cart. All the food was free. So this homeless guy comes up and he says,
‘So I can have a hot dog and chips for free?’
‘Yeah, you can its free, do you want a soda?’
‘Yes, if that’s alright.’
So I go to give him a hotdog and it dropped on the ground. I said, ‘Whoops sorry you can just get another one and I’ll pick up that one.’ And he just bends down and picks it up, puts it right back in the bun.
‘Oh don’t worry, I ate dirt before, I’m just glad to have something eat.’
I told him twice he could have another one but he was fine eating it. He walked off. I still wonder what happened in that man’s life for him to end up in such a bad spot- I wish I could find him.”
Daddy’s Little Princess
“My dad did everything for me. Class project? No problem. He would help but be so controlling that he just took over. He took care of everything. Even signed me up for my college classes. Car maintenance, what’s that? I was his princess. He ended up getting cancer and dying when I was around 22 or 23. I didn’t know how to do anything for myself as an adult. Car registration and inspection expired and the police were the one to inform me. Oil change? Tire rotation? Figured those out the hard way too.
I always felt entitled and like I should get my way. I am a kind person but was also very easily agitated when I did not get my way. I have always had low self-confidence and anxiety. I really think I was never able to develop self-esteem because I was so spoiled. But I am almost 32 now and functioning well! It took me a long time to learn how to be an adult and manage money. I still get flustered when I don’t get my way but self-awareness prevents me from acting like a jerk.”
Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You
“I grew up basically not knowing the value of money. I had no idea how much effort it takes to earn a living. My parents weren’t anything like Midas-rich, but we went to private schools and I never had to work a day in my life for pocket money. It was an ask-and-ye-shall-receive system with them and they gave us regular pocket money and topped it up if we spent it all or wanted to go shopping.
They paid for my college tuition, living expenses, everything. Well, one summer I decided to get $700 hair extensions and also blew my ‘living expenses’ money on a whole bunch of unnecessary things. Around this time, I also had a flaming row with my parents because they wouldn’t let me move in with my friends next year. So my parents and I were not on speaking terms and I was absolutely broke.
So, I got a job at a fast food place and MAAAAN that was a rude awakening. I wasn’t even manning the fryer – I was on cashier duty most of the time. But I would get home utterly exhausted every day and reeking of grease. I quit after a month because I found a much better gig doing statistical analysis, but that was my first experience working and realizing that money isn’t infinite.”
A Special Treat
“I realized I was spoiled when I found out that people on my basketball team considered going to McDonald’s ‘a once a year special treat.’
From that point, I began to appreciate my gifted financial circumstances and always tried to accommodate those with less money when going out with friends.”
She Got A McJob
“The moment for me was when my parents forced me to work at McDonald’s at 16. I didn’t need the money but I was getting a paycheck from McDonald’s and my parents were also paying me to work there to develop character. So I was basically getting two paychecks, or one paycheck and a hefty allowance. It wasn’t until my manager said, ‘Who drives a Lexus?’ three months into working that I got the reality check that I was spoiled rotten. I just thought everyone got a Lexus or BMW as their first car. She asked if I knew how much it cost and I said, ‘I don’t know-$10k?’
They all had a good laugh and thought I was being humble, but that was my awakening.”
What An Amazing Nanny!
“I grew up living in a huge hotel. It was kind of like Suite Life of Zack and Cody except that I was a spoiled young kid. When I was 7, I’d have a nanny put on my socks, wore my school uniform every day etc. I had four nannies before that and they all left. I made one cry once because I yelled at her for not helping me with my math homework. I slapped another one. She left 3 months later.
It hit me hard a year or two later when my dad had to travel overseas to work so I was stuck with that one particular nanny named Tina. My dad didn’t really send a lot of money back to us. We had to live in a cramped apartment since we needed to move out of that particular hotel. I hated my nanny at the beginning because she was just so strict. Turned out that she was doing this because she wanted us to change, and we did.
Because my dad didn’t send enough money and didn’t want to (stingy guy), so we had to ration our food on some days and I couldn’t go to many school activities because we didn’t have a car like we used to. We just flat out didn’t have enough money. This was hard on my brother and I because we went to a private international school full of wealthy kids. It was really hard trying not to show others our personal struggle. It was even harder on me as I was in a leadership position at that school, so not attending school activities/extracurricular stuff was the worst.
During that time period, I learned so much and began to empathize properly. I learned to socialize with my neighbors, be independent, and this made me enjoy my childhood living in that apartment more than I ever did living in a hotel. I owe it all to my nanny, to be honest. I considered her my surrogate mom regardless of the rough beginning and, honest to god, I would not have changed one single bit if it wasn’t for her. I told her about that before she left us for good 3 years ago. I broke down and expressed how much I appreciated her help because her leaving felt like a parent walking out of my life. Which, ironically was what my mom did though I never really felt anything for her in the first place. But that’s another story.”
“By developed nation standards, I don’t have much, never have. Buying food and paying rent has always come with varying degrees of difficulty. But my partner had an experience that made me realize I’m still spoiled rotten in many senses.
My partner took what we considered to be a lowly job at the time, working a pretty physically demanding position at a large nursery for low pay with long hours.
One day, he noticed a new guy in the lunch room. The guy was wearing a suit, (totally unsuited to the work), and standing in front of the microwave staring at it, seemingly with no idea what to do. At the time, my partner thought he must have just been a bit simple.
A couple of days later he got talking to this guy and heard his story. He was a young man from Sudan who had been at home with his family when militia came calling. They made certain demands of his father, who refused to comply, and in response, they beheaded the father right in front of his family.
While this was happening, he managed to gather up his brother, mother, and sister, and escape. They ran away and in time they made it to a refugee camp. They stayed in the camp for some time, but he feared for the safety of his mother and sister. He and his brother decided they would have to strike out and make an attempt to reach the UN in the neighboring country.
They left on foot to try and make it but had no shoes while traveling through the jungle full of scrub he described as being like razors, severely lacerating their feet. They even had to run from lions along the way.
Eventually, in very bad shape, they made it to the UN who took them in. They said they could arrange asylum for the brothers, but all they had was one place in the U.S. and one in Australia. They had no choice but to accept, and so they were split up.
The brother that went to Australia begged to have his mother and sister brought over too, as he believed it was only a matter of time until something bad happened to them in the refugee camp. He was told he would need to get and hold a job for a certain amount of time to show he was legitimate, then later he might be able to bring his family over.
He was provided with a small allowance to arrange clothing and transportation so he could get a job, with which he purchased an old suit and bicycle from a thrift shop. He was set up with a job as part of a program whereby businesses can pay staff less if they are willing to take on refugees. He wasn’t told what the job was, however.
So, he put on his suit and rode his bike to his new job. And that was the day my partner first saw him in the lunch room. He was staring at the microwave because he had never ever used one before and had no idea what to do with it.
When telling my partner his story he explained how crucial this job was for him, that he believed the life of his mother and sister depended on it.
A few days later my partner went to work and found out the young man had been fired. The business, despite having wages subsidized in order to help provide training, decided he was learning too slowly.
So now, when I’m struggling to pay my rent or bills but I’m doing so from the safety of my home having eaten three square meals, I think of the young man from Sudan’s story and I’m thankful for everything I have.”
From The Other Side
“I grew up in a midwestern town, middle-class neighborhood, private school etc. I never needed anything but my dad grew up poor and my parents wouldn’t give in to any of my big ‘wants’ (Super Nintendo).
My neighbor and best friend got everything he asked for. I loved hanging at his house because he had the best TV, the best food, the newest video games, 100 pairs of shoes and 1000 hats.
After we moved away, I found out that his parents gave him anything he wanted because they were in a loveless marriage and constantly fought around him. They were buying love when my parents were showing me, love. I always wondered why he would prefer to stay at my house with a crappy TV and an outdated Nintendo with no games. Turned out he wanted to stay at our house because my parents didn’t fight and would actually listen to him. My parents became surrogate parents for him and to this day he calls them Mom and Dad, I’m happy to call him brother. If it weren’t for him, I would never have known how I won the parental lottery.”