Growing up in a wealthy environment can put some people in an unrealistic bubble. Reddit users who considered themselves spoiled were asked about when reality hit them, here’s some of their answers.
1. Something easy to do.
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 colour. 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 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 and on Friday’s 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. This really hit me hard but 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. As it turns out, he had been wearing shoes about 3 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.
3. A shock to the system.
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. I never knew what my parents really did for a living, I remember kids always asking what my parents did as a job in the playground and I never really knew how to respond.
I soon figured out what my parents did when my dad was arrested for drug trafficking and the house, cars and everything else was repossessed by the government as profits of crime. I now live in a dilapidated 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.
3. Catering to every whim.
I was raised by my great grandmother. She was well to do, active well into her 80’s and her world revolved around me. Ballet, gymnastics, all the music classes I could fit in my schedule. I had a menagerie of pets. Christmases were obscene. She catered to my every whim as a child.
Now that I’m an adult and my wonderful Gram has passed, I’ve learned that what I had was really unique. The world does not wait on me, I’m not special to everyone. I struggle with entitlement and narcissistic tendencies. It’s isolating at times and I miss her.
4. Fifteen thousand dollars!?
At 20, when I started dating my now husband. He was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs and they still barely got by, while my mom was a SAHM and my dad was/is a successful in his line of work.
Husband and I went to high school together. At the beginning of every school year my parents would easily drop $15k on me and my sister for school clothes; my husband would go with our HS secretary to get clothes that were paid for by the school district. I didn’t even know that was a thing….
5. People have to be told.
Getting told “You’re a very rude person.” by an instructor at music summer camp after 11th grade. It was a huge reality check for me and really changed how I interacted with people.
6. Culture shock.
When I moved out of my hometown for college, it was an absolute culture shock. I met other students who couldn’t go to their dream schools because of how much it cost so they had to go in-state. They didn’t eat out every other day. They bought secondhand clothes. Some had never travelled out of the country, some never even out of the state. Some were driving their parents’ first cars. That shit blew my mind. This is how the rest of the 99% of the country lives.
I come from a filthy rich background, but I work hard to hide it so that you can’t tell. I dress normally, I don’t really talk about my background, I try to buy stuff on sale.
Sometimes it shows in ways that I can’t help. I’d never seen shitty cars before going to college. I don’t know how to drive cars with poor handling, and I always forget to turn off the headlights because I’ve never driven a car without automatic lights. I don’t know how much anything costs because it doesn’t matter. I’ll still buy it anyway. I also don’t really value money. $100 just isn’t a big deal to me, but I know it means a lot to others, so I don’t mind giving it to friends who are in need. But if you don’t look too closely at my habits, you can’t tell. And that was a conscious decision that I’ve made.
I’m grateful for never having to worry about money, and I likely never will. But I don’t want to go back to my hometown because I think the lifestyle is unhealthy. There’s so much entitlement, and the worst part is how rich people think that money defines your worth. I’ve seen them look at people with less money with such disdain, like their value as a person is less since they don’t have as much money. It’s disgusting. And I don’t want to be associated with that kind of person.
I also loathe the comments that come with it like “if I were rich like you…” and I put an end to those immediately if they come up. I don’t like being treated differently because of how much money I have, and I won’t treat you differently for how much money you have. We are both people, and we are both worth something.
7. Experience across the wealth spectrum.
My parents went bankrupt. Twice. Went from private school to having cars and the house repossessed. Yay.
Going broke really opens your eyes. Went from an 8000 sqft house down the street from John Elway and anything I wanted to sharing a bedroom in a 1200 spft townhouse in Kentucky in just a couple years.
My parents had A LOT of money, but never did anything to protect it. A couple bad decisions later and we were beyond broke. I learned a lot about investing and diversifying after living through that.
9. A twist on the formula.
I didn’t grow up spoiled – no where close.
I know the value of a dollar. As a kid, my mother would tell me the days we didn’t have food, “hunger is what makes the man” so I could go to sleep. I remember one week where I went without solid food. When we finally had this bread type thing, she said, “you know why this tastes good? Because you know the value of every grain in it”
Flash forward years down the line.
NYC high rise building in an expensive apartment and my kid is complaining all his friends live in the suburbs and have houses and we “live in an apartment”. Mind you, this a multimillion dollar apartment.
Instantly have flashback to that week.
Next week, I buy a middle class home in a working class neighborhood and permanently move there. It was a shock for him. No kid of mine is going to be one those brats.
10. The tale of Tina.
I grew up living in a huge hotel. Kind of like your Suite Life of Zack and Cody thing except that I was a spoiled young kid. When I was 7, I’d have a nanny put on my socks, wear my school uniform everyday and vice versa. 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 and so 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 damn strict. Turns 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), 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. And we didn’t have enough money. This was hard on my brother and I because we went to a private international school so it was really hard not trying to show others our personal struggle. It was even harder on me as I was a prefect at that school, and so not attending school activities/extracurricular stuff was the worst.
During that period, I learnt so much and begun to empathize properly. I learnt to socialize with my neighbours, 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 consider her my surrogate mom now regardless of the rough beginning and I honest to god, would not have changed one single bit if it wasn’t for her.
11. A mother’s tale.
I grew up thinking we had money. Turns out we didn’t, my parents just spoiled me every time I threw a fit. When I was 16, I chose to do a bio assignment on my mom because I realized I knew little of her youth. When my Mexican mother told me her best birthday gift was every 3 years she’d get new slippers since she tore through her one pair from growing. And that her annual gift was fabric to make her own dress. (I had recently begged for a homecoming gown that was $250 so that made me feel instantly shitty) And that she didn’t see a movie until she was 17 years old, which hurt me the most since cinema had shaped my life up to that point. The thought of being deprived such a lovely escapism was hard to hear. She also never had an education and didn’t read until her late 30’s. Learning about how my mother grew up was life changing to me. We weren’t rich but I was so spoiled rotten. I’m not sure it was because my parents knew what it was like to have nothing. She grew up in a rural farm without electricity and when she moved to America for the first time at 23, she asked her soon to be husband what the white machine in the kitchen was and he said “a dishwasher!”
This inspired me to never ask for money or beg again. That month I saved 3 months of wage to buy my first real camera at 16. I now make way more than I thought possible with my camera and I don’t think without her struggles and hearing her struggles, I would ever get close.
12. Glad to hear it worked out in the end.
I grew up very privileged. When I look back on it, I never even appreciated it. When I was 17 I came out and went from privileged to getting kicked out and living on the street.
That was some years ago now and I’ve made a pretty amazing life for myself. In fact, I’m almost 100% positive that I’m better off than if I kept on my previous track. In every way.
13. Most people don’t.
It took until I was in university to realize that most people don’t just get everything they want.
I was always just given what I asked for. We had a swimming pool and a tennis court but when I said I wanted a zipline in the backyard it was like, ok, let’s do that right now.
Every time an overseas class trip was held, there was just no question I would go, and be given money to do whatever I wanted.
One trip to Italy, there was a girl who had worked on weekends to pay for half the trip. My first reaction was wtf, why would you do that when your parents can just pay?
Then I realised some parents can’t just throw down money like that. It still took me a few years to realise that even having to pay for “only” half the trip was totally unfeasible to many people.
16. An eye-opening trip.
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 tbh).
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 not that much 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 US$3000 a year. What I made in about 2 hours at a minimum wage hotel job, she made in a week busting ass for 80 hours. I tipped WELL all through my trip. Even bought the crappy nicknacks from the hawkers by the temple. It was gutting.