Many things are hard to accept about the world, like the fact that the wealthy drive around in Maseratis while poor people starve all over the world.
When it comes to truths about the world at large or people other than us, it’s pretty easy to accept.
Sometimes, though, the harsh truths hit closer to home. We don’t want to accept that we are responsible for how our lives go, for instance, nor that sometimes we can’t achieve what other people can.
There are a lot of harsh truths I’ve accepted in my life, but here are three that stand out to me:
#1: Some people are just born healthy
I’ve always struggled with chronic illness in my life. It takes a fair amount of conscious effort for me to remain healthy enough to work and take care of myself. I have to remember to exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, e.t.c., or I end up too sick to go to work.
Some people, though, are just born healthy.
They can eat junk food for every meal every day of the week and rarely ever feel sick to their stomach. They can never go to the gym and still never be very weak or tired. They can get blind drunk every night and still function well enough to go to work the next day.
My father is one of these people. He’s nearly sixty years old, yet he still can get drunk some days of the week, smoke cigars every day, never work out, eat Burger King and microwaved meals for most of his food, and still work two jobs for fun. His doctor even congratulates him on how healthy he is. It’s crazy.
What most of us have to work for (and some of us have to work really hard for), these people have effortlessly.
If they did put in the effort to take care of themselves, they would be like gods.
Some of them do. If you meet someone who seems to eat nothing but health shakes, works out hours every day, has a wonderful relationship, and a fantastic career and energy to work all day, and skill in many hobbies, they are one of those people.
For a long time, I was angry about how unfair this is. Why do I have to buy expensive food for my special diet and take medicine to survive, and still feel pain most days of the week, while these people can live off of taco bell and alcohol?
It is unfair, but I realized I couldn’t waste energy worrying about it. The world isn’t going to change just because I’m angry with it. All I can do is do the best with what I’ve been given.
#2: Most rich people are actually pretty nice
Most people think of the rich as bad people. They imagine that rich people are rude to customer service, would rather line their own pockets than pay their employees a living wage, and happily participate in the oppression of minorities.
I grew up in the upper-middle class, which means rich-but-not-trust-fund rich. And the majority of rich people I met there were actually pretty nice.
Firstly, most people in the upper-middle class don’t have direct control over anyone’s wage. They’re usually managers at large corporations. The only thing under their direct control is their slightly-less-rich employees (and only within parameters the corporation allowed). They’ll well-rewarded wage slaves who build valuable skills in the marketplace, but they were wage slaves all the same.
Those that did run their own small businesses were upstanding business owners. They sought to hire people in their network looking for their first break, and they always offered a generous wage and benefits package.
These people were just like most of the people you meet in poorer neighborhoods. Sometimes they had a diverse set of friends, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they were nice and charitable, sometimes they weren’t.
I grew up rich, so I know the truth: Rich people (at least, upper-middle-class rich people) are just poor people who know how to make money.
There are a million books written on how the rich became rich. Some say it’s due to a superior mindset the reader must adopt, while others say that it’s because rich people are terrible people who leech off the poor.
Wealth is hereditary (in America, at least) because rich people teach their children these skills very early.
My rich dad started teaching me how to make and save money when I was merely 7 years old. By the time I was 14, I had already been “freelancing” for my father for several years and started a business repairing broken MacBooks on eBay.
By contrast, most people I meet who do not have rich parents don’t start learning how money works until they are at least one or two years out of college.
This is way, way too late to be learning how to become rich.
By then, you have already lost all the advantages of starting early (compound interest), youth (businesspeople love to give students and young people their big break), and college (universities have many free and low-cost opportunities).
But poor people don’t know this. No one teaches them.
Some people have obvious advantages. Their rich father gets them their first job at a bank, for example. But many children of rich parents don’t have the advantages poor people imagine they do. Their parents gave them little or no advantages. Their parents made them work minimum wage jobs to pay their cell phone bills and other household expenses, despite having more than enough money to cover those expenses themselves.
And even those who have advantages aren’t guaranteed wealth. My parents gave me many advantages, and while those advantages helped me craft a life as a writer, they haven’t made me rich. I get by, but I’m not buying a house anytime soon.
I don’t know how to solve wealth inequality at a structural level, but I do try to talk to my poor friends about how to manage money as much as possible so that they too may become rich later in life.
#3: If your life sucks, it’s your fault
There are a lot of things that can happen in life to make our lives suck temporarily. We can get laid off due to an economic downturn, lose money in the stock market, suffer a sudden and unexpected health problem, lose a friend to drugs or alcohol, or even a spouse, or any number of other tragedies.
When these tragedies strike, life will suck for a little while. There’s no way around that. But if your life consistently sucks, that’s not because of the tragedy. That’s because of you.
In the point above, I mentioned how I spent a long time resenting healthy people for being born that way. What I didn’t mention was how I made myself even sicker by wallowing.
Instead of consulting with doctors to find the best medication for me, I just laid in bed and wallowed in my pain. Instead of finding healthy food for me and taking care of my diet, I just ate whatever food was around and blamed my resulting pain on the universe.
When I accepted the hard truth that the state of my life was my own fault, I started to turn things around. I got on the right medication. I started eating right. I started exercising as much as I could.
Now, instead of being too sick to work most days, I can work, have a healthy relationship, and fulfilling life. Being chronically ill sucks, for sure, but it no longer holds me back.
If your life sucks for a little while because of tragedy, there’s nothing you can do about that. But if it consistently sucks, that’s because you let it.
By now, you may be irritated with me and think a little or a lot of what I’ve written here is bullshit. That’s not surprising. They’re hard lessons, not easy ones.
But the results of learning hard lessons are worth it. You gain the ability to accept your circumstances, decide to change your life, and figure out how to do so.
So I pray, for you and me and everyone else in the world, that we accept our harsh truths as quickly as possible.