Earning Your Way

Many people have an admiration for my abilities to have been homeless, go to college, graduate, and get myself off the streets. While I do not understand that admiration, I also know I see it all far differently than they do. Often people look at the homeless, or the destitute, and sympathize with their plight. This is easy when you’re in a better place than the one you’re perceiving. However, I have witnessed things that made me understand something that I will share with you now.

There is a huge difference between earning, and given. The difference makes all the difference. For instance, if someone was given $100 it becomes a different thing than $100 earned through hard work. They think of it differently, they respect it. The level of respect for that little money is drastically altered by how it was obtained. When things were given, food, clothes, shoes, apartments, what-have-you, then the respect for those goes way down.

I have witnessed this, over and over, while they may be greatful in the moments of having that gift, it’s abused, mistreated, and discarded as easily as their own values. The fact was that I am guilty of doing it, maybe we all are. The ease of this and doing this almost comes naturally, but the idea of respecting what was given, you’d have to have appreciation for it. The only real way to have that kind of appreciation is to know what it is worth in actual sense. In other words, they needed to earn it themselves.

For instance if that $100 was given to someone who knew what it took to earn that $100 then the respect of the gift and it’s use is higher versus not knowing (or not caring). That is the value of something earned. Think of it to even greater heights. If you worked hard all year for that particular thing, like a car, than when you’ve achieved the success of that it’s so rewarding and fulfilling versus being given that particular thing (car). Let alone the amount of care and respect you give to it when you’ve earned it versus when you didn’t.

That is a huge difference of what I learned albeit a bit too late, I found that earning the way was more than being given it. The value I had on myself changed when I could earn my way. The value of things I earned became more valuable. The truth of earning my way became more valuable to me than being handed a way (or struggling through it).  I chose to continue to fight against the ease of complacency. The ease of having things given, or the things that took minimal effort.

I often think of a character in Dragon Ball [Whole Series] (Japanese animated series), the character’s name is Goku, and the character is one of enduring optimism. A sense that no matter how bad it gets, how beat he may be, there is still hope. That is the character trait of a hero to me, and so I wanted to emulate that, but it became even more as Goku also is always looking for the challenges. He looks for the toughest, hardest battles he can fight, because in his eyes he can only get better through them.

That’s a truth of many things, don’t avoid challenges, face them. To do so makes you better, stronger. The earned abilities from overcoming challenges is worth even more. That value of what is earned always will be and in the end what you have earned will always be more valued. So the next time you receive a gift, act as if you’ve earned it, you might just respect it more. Know the actual value of that which was given and you can go further with what was given.

You can’t find yourself in a position of help, or being given anything and continue to receive those. What’s given in any way is a gift (unless it has an expectation). You must earn your way, as you must earn trust, or earn respect. Earning things like trust or respect must come from within first, and the other truth is that all things start from within and then you can change the external. If you’re willing to understand that you have received gifts, some of which you’ve squandered, then you know all too well that it’s easy. However make the harder decision to earn it.

Making this decision to run the harder path isn’t fun, it’s definitely not easy, it’s a continued choice that doesn’t quit. In my life I wouldn’t have made it to where I am without that decision. The harder path is harder. But I am more rewarded and receive far more through earning my way, than I ever could through expectation, gifts, and ease. I know this, and understand this. It’s up to you to make a decision for yourself. I hope you understand the choice. I hope you understand these words come from understanding. Whatever you choose, it’s your life. Go out and live it.



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