A Few First Hand Accounts Of Different Life Experiences

May 2, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: Life Experiences

What’s it like to be rich as in 1% rich?

Here are some observations from a 17-year-old still growing up in a wealthy household. 
 
1. I live in blissful ignorance of my family’s finances. 
Ask me about my parents’ yearly salaries, income, our investments, household net worth, etc. and I couldn’t tell you anything except that we are ultra high net worth (≥ US $50 million, don’t know how much exactly). My parents deliberately keep me in the dark when it comes to money, and I’m completely OK with that. I think they made this decision because first off, one wants some loudmouthed kid talking about rich their family is – especially not where I’m from. In the first grade, one of my classmates was kidnapped for over US $100 million (she was safely returned a day later). It is not very safe to be rich AND high-profile about it. It is also considered low-class to talk money no matter who you are. Also, they never wanted me to develop a superiority complex because of my family’s money; in my view, I never have. That being said I guess there is one “downside” to this…  
 
2. The rich kid’s “Invisible Hand” notion of having a never-ending, limitless amount of cash to spend.  
Obviously this isn’t a truth but a perception. By never-ending, I mean that wealth has basically been a “constant” throughout my life, not visibly affected by financial crises, tax raises and so on. By limitless, I mean that I have never faced something that I cannot afford. As such, I think that rich kids are not necessarily BIG spenders, but are CARELESS spenders for sure. When you literally have an unfathomably large amount of money at your disposal, it’s so actually easier to spend than to save. 
 

3. In terms of spending, my family has a very much “Quality over Quantity” mindset. 
For my family, budget constraints are so high they are out of sight out of mind. It’s not that the price of a good determines my perceived marginal benefits from it: I love the US$0.50 street foods in my native country. But I do have the power of choice to substitute a less desirable good for a more desirable “luxury” good, and I do this often. My mother once told me, “If something is going onto or into your body, it better be high-quality.” 
 
4. On that note, I guess you want anecdotal evidence of the above points, so here are some cool things I’ve grown up with / noticed:  

– Anonymous

 

 

What Does It Feel Like To Be a Smart Person?

Being smart is usually an incredible gift but occasionally a difficult burden.

At the peak of my high school math competition “career,” I was ranked about 25th in the United States among all high-school students. Given that there were  about 15 million high school students in the U.S., this put my math skills somewhere in the 1-in-a-100,000 to 1-in-1-million range. This felt—and still feels—pretty freakin’ awesome.

Being that good at something had several significant benefits. One benefit was that I had a ton of confidence in high school, and that confidence quickly extended far beyond math. I was nerdy, but unlike the stereotypical nerd, I was pretty sociable and even felt borderline popular. I also felt like I was capable of any academic feat and basically assumed that my 1-in-100,000 status applied to most subjects. I ended up winning state and national awards in things like Science Bowls and marketing competitions, and I also took more Advanced Placement tests than anyone else in the state during my four years in high school. Thinking back to those days is pretty amusing because I wasn’t that great at most of the things I was being recognized for, but it turns out that being good plus  being a good test-taker plus being confident can take you pretty far in the academic world.

Anyway, the confidence was great, and doing well in various math competitions helped me get into some of the top universities, which resulted in me getting great jobs after college, and subsequently led to a very happy and successful career (so far).

Now for the negatives:

  1. I assumed intelligence and academics were all that mattered, and things like friendships, sports, etc., were nice, but not as important. A pretty bad assumption, in retrospect. As a meta-comment, I think people frequently tend to overvalue things they are good at and undervalue things they are average at.
  2. For a long time, I used to discount people who were less smart. That doesn’t surprise me given that rankings were so heavily emphasized during my school years, but I wish I hadn’t fallen into this trap. I ended up having fewer real friends than most of my classmates. I try not to regret things that have passed, but I also wish someone had slapped some sense into me when I was younger.
  3. I assumed that being in the top 0.001 percent in math meant that I was in the top 0.001 percent in overall intelligence. Not so. IQ tests showed that my overall intelligence was somewhere in the middle of the 99th percentile, and real life showed that I was far from exceptional in things like social skills and work ethic. It took a while for my ego to come down to earth and match up with reality. The fall was necessary but often unpleasant.
  4. The pressure to perform can be very high. When you have a reputation for being smart, many people assume you can solve any problem that comes up. If something is hard, everyone’s eyes turn to you as if you are the golden goose of bright ideas. If you struggle a little bit, you get teased with, “Hey, I thought you were smart!” If you fail, people are surprised and say a lot with their silences. When you have a big ego, disappointing people is really painful. I remember making up excuses about not having time for various tasks so that I could maintain my reputation. Today, half of me writes this off as being a teenager who didn’t know how to act with integrity, while the other half cringes that I actually lied to people in order to avoid the risk of public failure.
  5. Meeting people and dating are often frustrating. The difference in IQs between me and someone who is a little above average is the same as the difference between someone average and a moron. (What can I say, Wikipedia is harsh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ) Well, it’s not exactlylike that, but sometimes it feels like it. It can be hard for me to connect with people I meet and find good topics of conversation. On the flip side, to a person who is socially gifted, I’m probably the one who seems like a moron.
  6. While I’ve worked hard, most of my successes came from my innate intelligence. As a result, I got used to being naturally good at things. Recent studies have shown that people who believe intelligence is innate tend to give up much faster than people who believe it can be developed, and that was definitely true for me throughout most of my 20s. I’d try things once or twice, then stop if I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, which was often. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance when you’re not good at something you expected to be great at, and the easiest way to resolve that dissonance is by quitting.
  7. I sometimes feel guilty about how much easier some things are for me than others and also about how I let them get to my head for so many years.

Overall, being smart brought many accolades and successes, but it also made me anxious, afraid of failure, and eager to quit at the first signs of hardship. I recently entered my thirties, and while now I have most of these issues under control, it took a good ten years to do that—10 years that I could have spent building stuff, trying more things, and not vacillating between being annoyingly cocky and being insecure. At thirty one, I’m finally working on things I wish I had worked on at twenty one.

Conclusion: being smart brings a lot of advantages in life, but it can also keep you from being well-rounded and warp your views of reality. If you know someone smart who views intelligence as the only important thing in life, please give them a whack on the head.

– Anonymous

 

 

(photo: @willcornfield)

What’t Is It Like To Go Through Life As A Really Beautiful Woman?

Around eighth grade people started to tell me I was pretty. I was tall and willowy. I had a great figure and I never weighed more than 120 pounds throughout my 20s. I started modeling in high school and had waist length dark brown hair and brown eyes. When I do the whole makeup, eyelashes, high heels, gown look I am very intimidating.

My looks definitely opened doors for me. I worked in PR and as a news producer, writer, reporter, and talk-show host. I did acting in daytime soaps, TV commercials, and theater. I never interviewed for a job I didn’t get. I had a good degree from a good college, sure, but I think all things being equal I’d get the job above other candidates because of the way I look.

One of the worst things about being beautiful is that other women absolutely despise you. Women have made me cry my whole life. When I try to make friends with a woman, I feel like I’m a guy trying to woo her. Women don’t trust me. They don’t want me around their husbands. I’m often excluded from parties, with no explanation. I imagine their thought process goes something like this: “What does it matter if I hurt her feelings. She has her looks and that’s more than I have. Life has already played favorites …” It’s kind of like being born rich, people don’t believe that you feel the same pain. It’s a bias that people can’t shake.

Throughout my life, competitive, attractive, wealthy, entitled women really hated me. At my first job after college, my female colleagues conspired against me. They planted bottles of half-drunk booze on my desk so that it looked like I was drinking on the job. Two women were obsessed with me. They told my boss lies to get me fired. I talked to some of my superiors about it and they put it to me straight: Look, it’s pure unmitigated jealousy. They really do hate you because of the way you look.

I was once engaged to a man who ended it after his sister-in-law spread gossip about me to his family. They threatened to cut his inheritance if he stayed with me, so he left. That broke my heart. I think her feeling was: I am the princess of this family, that woman must be eliminated. Later, after I married another man, I went through hell with my sister-in-law. She still doesn’t invite me on family vacations, she’s blocked me on Facebook.

That resistance other woman have towards being my friend is definitely one of the pitfalls of being attractive.When I was younger I was so desperate for friends, I’d take anyone.

Men were more loyal friends, but my boyfriends would always say: That’s because they want to get laid. So I’d think: Women dump on me. Men just want to have sex with me. Who am I? My closest friend was a gay man, he wasn’t jealous and he didn’t want to get laid. That might have been my only pure friendship.

I never had any trouble getting guys, but I got bored easily and moved on. I should have taken the good ones more seriously. I can see now that they would have been good husbands, fathers, and providers but I’d just drift away on to the next and stop returning their calls.

So I look back over my life and think, What did my looks do for me? They got me a few jobs, and a lot of boyfriends … but what else? I didn’t get married until I was 35 because I didn’t want the merry-go-round to end. One day I realized well if you want to have a kid, you better do it now. Of course all those great guys I didn’t take seriously when I was in my 20s were gone.

My husband was the last decent man standing. He had a bit of a drinking issue, which he’s overcome. There was a time when things were bad and I considered leaving him but I had no idea how to even go about finding someone new because I never, ever, had to pursue a man. I knew I couldn’t cope with that kind of rejection.

These days, since I have aged, when I don’t wear makeup and I gain a bit of weight (which happens often) I pass as normal. As far as men, and anyone under 40 is concerned, I am invisible. They do not see me. I could walk across the street naked — it’s that bad.

Here’s the really sad part. It doesn’t matter how beautiful you were in your youth; when you age you become invisible. You could still look fabulous but … who cares? Nobody is looking. Even my young-adult sons ignore me. The irony is that now that I am older I am a much better person. I went through some suffering in my 40s — raised two kids, dealt with an alcoholic husband, watched my parents get sick and pass away — and I really grew. But as far as the world is concerned? I’ve lost all my value.

– Anonymous