If you’ve ever wrestled with insecurity, especially feeling insecure because you were the kid who grew up in a fucked up family and you feel like you’re damaged goods or somehow less than the people who grew up in “normal” families, then this one is for you!
If you grew up in for lack of a better word, a fucked up situation – whether that means that you grew up poor, had some dysfunctional shit like a family member dealing with addiction or getting in trouble the law, I bet you’ve ever been pissed off about it and felt like it was gonna hold you back.
Because when the normie kids were being driven to soccer practice after school or whatever, you were taking the bus home and dreading coming home to your fuckhead dad or alcoholic mom, working 6 days a week to help support your family or whatever it was you were dealing with.
I get it: it’s super easy and understandable to be bitter and resentful about that, like “fuck, why didn’t I get to grow up “”normal””?! What did I do to deserve this shit?!” and feel like you’re damaged goods. I definitely felt that way for a long time – like because of the way you grew up, that you’ll doomed to be a loser or a fuckup.
But I want you to know that you’re wrong – it isn’t holding you back.
In fact, I think you have an ADVANTAGE!
Because if you grow up like that, your life is basically constantly looking over your shoulder and wondering when the next shitty thing is gonna happen and how you’re gonna deal with it – like, “Oh, my parents are getting divorced? Mom came home drunk and screamed at me again? My uncle’s going to jail? And we’re getting kicked out of our apartment? Cool.”
Basically, you never fucking know what’s gonna happen and you just live in a state of constantly expecting bad shit to happen to you out of the blue
But here’s the thing: by the time you’re in your 20s, you’ve been through some shit. You’ve been knocked down a million times, and you got back up every fucking time. Yeah, maybe you had a black eye and maybe you wanted to cry… but you got back up.
And because of that, you know in your heart that when fucked up shit happens – when you get thrown into chaos – that you can handle it. Because you’ve been in it a million times before – so what’s one more time? big deal.
And THAT is what you learn – which is maybe the most important thing you could learn in life in general, but also in business. And those kids who got driven to soccer practice after school did NOT learn to deal with getting punched in the fucking face by life.
But YOU did! and THAT is why I believe you have an advantage.
I started to realize this about 10 years ago, when I worked for Abercrombie & Fitch (and just to be clear, I did marketing and design there at the corporate headquarters, I didn’t work at the store in the mall).
And just to frame all of this, you should know Abercrombie hires basically exactly the kind of people you’d expect, or at least they did when I worked there: good looking white people who grew up with money and went to fancy Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale and Cornell.
Nothing wrong with growing up that way, but it’s NOT me at all! I grew up I guess you could say poor to lower middle class in a suburb of Seattle (and to be clear, I’m not complaining – it was a nice place to grow up), but I’m definitely not that good looking, rich kid from Connecticut or something who went to a fancy school. My dad was a corrections officer who worked at a prison, not a doctor or lawyer or anything like that.
So to be honest, when I started at Abercrombie I was pretty intimidated, because I’d never really been around people like that before, and I was kinda psyched out because figured they would be so much smarter than me. I figured I was gonna have a hard time keeping up with them, because they went to HARVARD!! And I’m just some hardcore kid from Washington who didn’t even know what “Ivy League” meant until a few years before!
But what actually happened was very, very different than that.
What happened was that the Ivy League types would seem all cool, confident and in control at the beginning of a project, but then as soon as the shit hit the fan (which it always does, as any creatives know), they would basically panic and just freeze like a deer in the headlights like, “Uhhhhhhh wait a minute nobody told me what to do when THIS happens, what do I do? Help!”
And that’s when I realized what was happening: They had no idea what to do when they were on their own. They only knew how to follow directions, but when there WERE NO DIRECTIONS – in those moments of chaos that happen ALL THE TIME in business and in life – they were basically helpless and incapable of figuring shit out on their own.
So then I would usually be the one to say, “Guys, calm down – this isn’t that big of a deal. We’re gonna do X, then Y, then Z. Cool? Let’s get after it,” and then everybody would calm down because someone told them what to do
So just to bring this home, here’s what I want you to take away from this: you should NEVER, EVER think of yourself as damaged goods or a loser!
If you grew up in fucked up circumstances, first of all, know that you are NOT alone! You’d be surprised at how many people you think are normies but went through some serious shit growing up – attorneys, bankers, doctors… they went through shit too – so know that you aren’t weird or different, there’s tons of us out there!
But most importantly, know that what you learned from going through all that shit is super, super valuable. You learned how to deal with chaos and uncertainty and fear. You didn’t just learn it, you’re a fucking black belt in that shit!! And THAT is a powerful advantage.
And you should know that *I* believe in you, and you should believe in yourself too 🙂