Something I want to establish – internally – is this foundational idea that no one owes me anything. While reasonable people can debate about universal morality and ethical standards, the purpose of this essay is to think about a mentality, a frame of mind for tackling obstacles.
On an extreme plane, imagine there are two endpoints describing broad world-views. The first is this endpoint that I have already mentioned – it is the idea that no individual owes me anything. The second endpoint, sitting on the other side of the spectrum, is the converse idea, the world owes me everything.
Growing up, whether conscious of my view/bias or not, I think, in hindsight, I fell close to the second endpoint. I thought that everyone owed me everything.
The world owes me respect? The world owes me kindness? The world owes me dignity?
But does the world owe me food? Does the world owe me shelter?
But does the world owe me education? Does it owe me a job? Does it owe me a bunch of friends and happiness and a bunch of money?
Most everyone would agree, no.
But talk to me 10 years ago. A 10 year old in middle school. So naive. So innocent. So curious. So obsessed. I figured everyone above me knew everything. And everyone below me knew nothing.
As a 10 year old, I never thought past 11. I just figured the world would help me figure out how to get to year 12, 13, and so on.
I figured the world had a duty to helping me get to where people before me got.
But that is the wrong mentality. I say that with confidence, now, I do not deserve any special treatment.
The world owes me nothing. I am not entitled to anything. I am the ground.
But I have already had such a huge advantage over many others.
I have been fortunate enough to get a head-start in many many areas: I went to a great public high school. I have a computer. I have stable internet access. I have people in my life that care deeply about me.
Is that not enough? Is that not already enough to put me int the top 1% of the world?
What is my excuse? What am I owed to be happy? What am I owed to be successful and hard-working? What am I complaining about?
Do I complain only because I recognize there is more out there? Is dissatisfaction a product of knowing and ignorance?
No one owes me anything. It is a mentality that inspires me as the under-dog. It is a mentality that pushes me to earn respect, dignity, kindness. More than that. It pushes me to battle.
I will earn trust, responsibility, etc.
I will lose it too.
But I will and must always come back.
If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell him this advice: the world owes you nothing. It is up to you to earn everything.