No one owes you anything. Not your parents. Not your government. Not your job. Not your spouse. Not your kids. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life. Understanding this is one of the biggest steps you can take on the path to maturity and long term happiness. When you walk around thinking that the world owes you something you have accepted the victim mindset. You have decided that instead of creating, you will spend your time collecting. Sounds great doesn’t it? After all, everybody loves hanging out with the tax collector.
As small children, we need the protection and sustenance that our parents provide to survive. As a small child, that care and sustenance becomes our universe and we locate ourselves smack dab in the middle of it. At some point, around age nine or ten, we discover that we are NOT the center of the universe. Other people populate this world with us. Strangely enough, those people have needs and wants that aren’t necessarily the same needs and wants that we have. Many times, their needs are different or even OPPOSITE to what we want. Nauseating, I know. My youngest daughter is in third grade right now and understanding this is her biggest challenge. Why don’t all the kids do what I want to do? How dare they have their own opinions and desires?
Once we start to figure this out, mother nature backhands us with the awkwardness of adolescence. Then we spend the next several years trying to communicate with all these other humans through a haze of hormones. This puts us in a super clear mindset where we make decisions that only a mescaline fueled Hunter S. Thompson would approve of. We call this rite of passage high school.
On the other side of that gauntlet lies an invitation to autonomy. Most of us accept it. Too many of us accept it with strings attached. The majority of us, in first world countries anyway, now believe that we are entitled to a college education. Those of us who feel entitled typically don’t get a lot from it. We approach it like a four year camp with a participation certificate attached.
Throughout this experience, we have all met the jaded rich kid. They typically spend Christmas break in Bali and they believe they have seen it all. They have this malaise that is rooted in this fear that there are no more great experiences for them to have. Everything has been provided for them. Every problem resolved. Every whim catered. Every pleasure seen to. I’ve known too many of these folks. Most of them are incredibly unhappy. Not all, but most. How is this possible?
The primary reason for that unhappiness is that they have stopped growing. They have stopped trying. When you feel like the world exists to serve you, what reason do you have to improve? These people end up as stunted man children that poison the air around them. They never had to earn it. They never had to enter another person’s world. They never learned empathy. They believe people owe them respect. These are the people that treat wait staff like crap. That same staff will smile to their face then go spit in their soup back in the kitchen. Unearned respect can’t feel good. A lot of times it’s not even their fault and honestly all I can feel for them is pity.
Sadly, this problem is not limited to the rich. Too many of us find a level of comfort within our personal tribe. We then have the mistaken impression that this comfort should be untouchable. This group could be your neighborhood, this could be your political tribe, this could be your clique from high school or college, this could be your work crowd, this could be anywhere that you have some sense of status. When change is introduced into that group especially if it impacts your identity OR, even worse, your status within that identity, we panic. We point at that change and say, “We were here first! This is our club! Damn you women! Damn you immigrants! Damn you millennials! The world owes us advantages for getting here first!”
What a load of crap. The world owes you nothing. If you feel like the world is passing you by, that’s your fault, and nobody else’s. The only way to avoid it is to drop your sense of entitlement and engage. Put the time in. Understand the change. Understand the other point of view. Allow your mind to be changed.
What happens when we allow our minds to be changed? We learn. We grow. We improve. We become better people.