I Feel Rich

I feel rich because I had the privilege of attending private international schools. My parents believed a high-quality education was one of the most important things a mother and father could give their child. As such, they overlooked many of their own wants and needs to ensure their children could receive the best possible education. I am very grateful for this, and well-aware my education did not come without my parents’ personal sacrifice.

I feel rich because I learned the value of hard work. From an early age, I have been mindful of the fact that my parents were underprivileged in their youth. This led to them not giving me things simply because I asked for or desired them. Even when they did give me gifts, they explained to me why I deserved the reward in question. To this end, while I know hard work may not always lead to wealth, I recognise it makes an individual worthy of his or her riches because the things we earn are typically more significant than the things we are given.

I feel rich because I got to travel. I had ample opportunity to observe the world in new and eye-opening ways. I was given the chance to experience new cultures and view society from various perspectives. As a result, I witnessed first-hand that wealth means different things to different people. I also realised that to some human beings, the three meals I had the luxury of eating each day – the clean water I had at my disposal, and the fact that I had any education at all – made me a privileged person.

I feel rich because I have known from a young age that the world is an unfair place. I learned early on that you have absolutely no power to choose the race, gender, class, or nationality you are born into. While these factors may give you an advantage or a disadvantage as an individual, you can simply look at your own upbringing as a reason to fail – or as a reason you must find success.

However, I absolutely do not feel rich in material terms. My parents have done well for themselves, but I understand that I did not blindly appear in a world of privilege. The truth of the matter is that I feel rich because I was brought up by two people who were born into a poorer environment – and yet these same two people managed to overcome the odds and attain the highest level of education in their respected professions, all so they could build a finer life than the one they were born into.

I feel rich because I understand that health, happiness, adequacy, kindness, and helping others individuals who are of far greater importance than any materialistic wealth I could ever attain. Rich because I know that the level of one’s true value is not in financial statements but in what the person has contributed in their time alive. And whether that involvement has made life superior for those around them. Countless human beings have been given so little, and this disparity will never completely go away. Others, however, have been given a lot – perhaps more than they truly deserve. I believe that to not be able to acknowledge what we have been given, and what we are capable of achieving with what we’ve been given, is poverty.

Nelson Htoo

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