This is the English version. For the Norwegian version, see “Grunner til å ikke bli rik”.
I’ve heard that, given my computer expertise and everything, some people wonder why I’m not rich. Whenever directly questioned, I’ve usually just provided a fairly easy-to-understand answer, along the lines of “I don’t really care about money”. While that’s not wrong, it’s not the whole story. In this post, I’ll finally try to outline all the reasons why I’ve, so far, never seriously tried to become rich.
Risk vs benefit
Sure, if I had much more money, it’s possible I could do a lot more good in this world. But let’s face it: being richer than you need to be has its costs. You would get many new worries you didn’t have before, such as many more people trying to cheat you, spy on you, steal from you, judge you, bully you, or defame you with false accusations, simply for their own benefit.
It seems to me that dealing with that kind of thing on a daily basis would take a thick skin, and a well-developed ability to not care what other people think. It’s probably no surprise that many of the richest people today are people who are quite willing to treat other people badly, or at least ignore them.
But I was never like that. I’m a highly sensitive person, and I innately care about people. Without a thick enough skin, becoming rich would have destroyed me. (Perhaps kind of like how too much success have destroyed too many young musical artists over the years.) It’s taken me decades to learn how to make myself strong enough.
One of the reasons it’s been very hard for me to develop a thick enough skin, is that I did not exactly have a happy childhood. The damage I took from it was extensive. Even after all these years, I still have to work hard just to get through each day. Always wishing my conscience would allow me to choose to die. But it won’t, forcing me to suffer yet another day. So trying to fix the heavy damage inside me has just always been far more important to me than pretty much anything else.
In fact, almost every non-work-related activity I’ve ever pursued, has been in the hope that somehow, it would give me another way to repair the damage inside. And almost every resource I’ve ever commanded, has been used for this purpose. As I saw it, trying to get rich would not have furthered this goal in a cost-effective way, therefore it was not a very high priority.
If it’s of interest, I’ve previously written a little about my childhood in the post “Memories of Regression”.
As mentioned in that previous post, because of extensive bullying, I was forced to live most of my childhood without friends. When I finally, at long last, became an adult with the right to control my own destiny, the damage had already been done. I could finally get away, but I was suffering from deep social phobia (or, more precisely, avoidant personality disorder). After all those years of abuse and betrayal, my instincts were refusing to take any more chances with humans. Now it was no longer the bullies, but my own traumatized instincts, that forced me to continue living without friends.
That is one of the most important bits of damage I’ve tried to fix ever since. It’s been 20 years, and I’ve managed to repair roughly half of that damage, more or less. These days I can be in teams, I can talk to strangers when I have to, I can function in social settings, and so on. But I still can’t have friends, because now I can’t even imagine what it would be like. It’s like an old fairy tale you can barely remember. You know you’ll never be in that fairy tale, so you just stop thinking about it.
You may ask, what does that have to do with not getting rich? Well, as mentioned earlier, I don’t have a very thick skin. But if I had a close friend I could thoroughly trust to always be there for me, as my support and my shield, then that might compensate. Then I might be more willing to take the chance. But I never had that.
There’s also another reason. A part of my heart has always had a romantic side, I guess. It sees the path to wealth and fame as a special kind of journey, one that should only be taken when your heart and mind are ready. It’s a treacherous path, it will forever change your life, and trying to go before you’re ready will easily corrupt or destroy you and everything you hold dear.
Could I see myself taking such a path? I could, but since it would be such a special journey, and such a significant part of my life, I would want the journey itself to be as meaningful, enjoyable, and beautiful as possible. I wouldn’t want the journey to be an anxious, gloomy, or desperate one.
So one of my oldest dreams has been that, if I’m ever to go down that life-changing path, that I wouldn’t have to go alone. I’ve had that dream since I was a young boy. I would want a companion, ideally someone I loved, to face the dangers with, to share the burdens, to protect each other, and to help each other pursue our dreams and hopes of a better tomorrow.
And ever since I was that young boy, I’ve always waited. I never really wanted to start on that path, because that companion I wished for, was never there.
Now, given my social phobia, the chances of such a companion just magically appearing would be very small indeed, I always knew that. So I did consider going alone. But I never felt confident enough to do it alone, and I suppose a part of me just didn’t want to.
Those are the major reasons I have never yet tried to become rich. But could I try in the future?
Maybe. I’m slowly getting stronger, I think. Perhaps I will someday be strong enough, even without friends or companions. If that happens, perhaps I would then decide that whatever difference I could make, might be worth the danger. It’s possible.
But I would not enjoy it. I think I would cry.