Rich, poor, middle-class: We all come from different statuses. Some of us get to live the nice life. Never having to worry about this month’s rent or buying the car they want. The rest of us had to ask ourselves if we had enough to eat tonight.
As a child, I was too naive to understand the meaning of different classes of people. I mean, I thought my friends and I looked pretty similar. We spoke the same way, lived in the same city and went to the same schools. But it wasn’t until I became an adolescent, where I started learning, taking up the knowledge that was bestowed onto me by my loved ones. The rest of the knowledge I’m familiar with today were things I had to learn through trial and error.
Something else I had realized as a young teenager is that, for some reason, I felt different to some people. I would walk down the block and see people who were usually around my age, or perhaps a little older, with the nicest cars and the freshest sneakers. As I turned on the TV, I would see celebrities wear expensive clothing and show off their jewelry on social media.
Seeing all of these people, people who came from the same world and were human with the same abilities, just like me, I asked myself, “Why can’t I be like them?” Or, “Why can’t I have what they have?”
I dreamed every day that I would get what they had. It would be my turn to prove everyone wrong and be better than everyone else. Because of my foolishness, I shunned everything that surrounded me and became disgusted with what made me who I am, which brings me to where I am today.
It wasn’t until I transitioned into my present mindset that I realized how unappreciative I was of the life I lived. I lost the friends I loved, I hurt many of those who trusted me to hold their hearts and I was ashamed of the people who raised me. I told myself that this life was not right, but as I write this now, I see that I was the one who was wrong.
Now, I have love for the people that still stand with me. I hold those that are dear to me. I try to give back what was handed to me, because I am now grateful. Sometimes I see people drive expensive cars, wear the expensive clothes and rock the shiniest chains, but I don’t care anymore. I now see that what I have today made me who I am.
And yes, I still do wish for a higher life, I still have dreams of living comfortably and I still have fantasies of being something great. But I remember who I was, I remember who I am. I am happy for how I was made.
So from me to you, don’t forget where you came from, and be grateful for what you got.
Anthony Nhem participates in Creative Justice’s Youth Consortium and is part of the leadership team.
Update: The byline on this article misspelled the author's name. The newspaper regrets the error.
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Read more of the Apr. 26-May 2, 2023 issue.