My Road. Or, Escape from Ism’s

I am a 35-year-old man. I have a wife, four kids, and a house. I have worked plenty of different jobs, and have done well at all of them. I have pride in myself, and a desire to bring that feeling to others.

A mere 15 years ago, I was a 20-year-old liberal. I held women on a pedestal, I believed Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem were heroes of modern humanity. I believed feminism was all earth needed to make it good. I believed in socialism. All of the liberal tropes, I carried proudly in my heart.

When I was shown alternative viewpoints, I would shy away from them, assured that I was right and that I didn’t need to read them or hear them. They were wrong, after all. A huge rift between my brother and I likely stemmed from that, as I would demonize him for even the slightest infraction when it came to the fairer sex, let alone an expectation that I would, maybe, act like a man!

I was a socially awkward loser. I lived at home with mom. I played video games or had “deep” discussions with my friends. I pined after women, rather than have the balls to go talk to them. I was merely a man, and they were goddesses, after all. That, or they were whores. There is no middle ground for that kind of guy, right?

I hated sports, because I hated competition. I hated the idea that there had to be a winner and a loser. You know who else hates those ideas? Losers. And I was one. Of course I didn’t want a reminder when I could just dominate a video game.

I thought individuality was paramount. I didn’t want to look like everyone else, and I used to have a ridiculous hairstyle. Maybe one day I’ll post a picture of it. If I’d had the money, I would likely have ended up with some sort of piercings or tattoos. Luckily I was too much of a loser to get a job.

I hated Republicans, and thought that they were uneducated religious zealots. I thought guns were terrifying, and ought to be erased from the landscape altogether. I believe that jobs were not simply a means to an end, that instead they were the trap you got caught in. I knew that’s how people got money, but I also knew that no matter how much my mom worked, nothing ever got better. I thought it was due to The System.

I was content, languishing in generational poverty. I was 20 and didn’t have a job yet. I had dropped out of school, because I thought my ideas were more valuable than those of the “System”. I had no money, no prospects, and no plan.

The place were I grew up was a place where people were not simply poor in their wallet. They were poor inside of their own heads. That kind of poor is different. No amount of money can fix it. Have you seen those people who win $100 million in the lottery, and it’s gone within a year? They have no investments, and they’re broke, despite having five Lamborghinis. Those, of course, eventually get taken away.

That’s what generational poverty does to a person. It makes them unable to function with money. The problem comes when people see their poor roots as a source of pride, something to cling to, rather than as something to escape from. They cling to their old ways, fearing that they will lose themselves in pursuit of a better life.

I escaped. I got my GED, and developed a healthy work ethic. I grew into the person I needed to be. I didn’t lose anything. What I gained is my true identity, and a new legacy for future generations of my family.

Aside from that, I crave opposing viewpoints. Knowing what the other side thinks allows you a bird’s-eye view of an issue. Lately, I find that most people’s views stem from selfishness. I know that view very well, as it was once mine.

It’s always going to be a hard road. Why not take the one that will bring you somewhere?

Open yourself up to opposing views, uncomfortable situations, the possibility of mockery and failure. Succeeding at laying down is not success at all.