This is Nicolas Cole, a creative writer, and a marketing strategist. His Quora answer to the question ‘Do people who are born beautiful, smart and into a wealthy, healthy family know how lucky they are?’ will change the way you think.
“I was born in the top 1%—of pretty much everything.
My father is well into the top 1% of spine surgeons in the world, probably the top .05% or even the top .01%. To give you a sense, he jokes at the dinner table about salesmen who come by his office and say, “Hey, we’ve developed this new screw to use in surgery–what screw do you currently use?” and his response: “The one I invented.”
My mother is well into the top 1% of music teachers in the U.S. She is a collegiate voice teacher, is part of a handful of boards and committees, etc.—and still finds time to perform, while raising 4 kids.
My younger sister graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in violin performance and is about to start grad school at arguably the top conservatory in the nation, CIM, for violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy. (And no, we’re not Asian… She jokes often that she’s the minority, being a white girl.)
My younger brother is a collegiate Gymnastics athlete at the Air Force Academy, and he has been nationally ranked in Rings since he was like 8 years old. Had he not decided to go to the Air Force, good chance he’d be fighting for the Olympics.
Our family’s income is in the top 1% of the US. Every car we own is a BMW. We have a big backyard, a pool with a waterfall jacuzzi, 9 bathrooms, 7 bedrooms, big screen T.V.’s in the basement and the family room, etc.
I say all the above solely for the purpose of helping you understand what the outside of that life looks like. I am sure you can imagine it—and I am sure it raises certain judgments. That’s how it is.
Yes. I know how lucky I am. I am the product of a dice roll.
But all of the above comes at a price.
To be lucky in many ways is to also be unlucky in many others.
First of all, when you are in the 1%, that means that 99% of people don’t understand you, your life, your problems, or why you are the way you are. If you come from the 1% and you feel depressed, you aren’t allowed to be depressed because your family has money. If you fail, at anything, you are beyond a failure—you are “unworthy.” You have somehow managed to fail even while given every resource and advantage. If you complain, you are spoiled. If you are sad, you are ungrateful. If you are tired, you are weak.
If you are not the best, at everything, then you are not second-best.
You are the worst.
The big screen T.V.’s we have? They have locks on them, or timers, or have the cable boxes unplugged in the back so they don’t distract us, the children, from what is most important—our goals.
Our high-speed internet? The password would change (and continues to change, whenever I go home to visit) so that time isn’t squandered on YouTube.
In high school, I was expected to go to school for 8 hours, come home, eat a snack, go to hockey practice, come home, eat dinner with the family, and then study for the rest of the night. There was no television. Friends could come over to play on the weekends. And somewhere between dinner and studying, each child was expected to take to the music room and practice their musical instrument for at least an hour—for me, classical piano.
Now, did my parents raise some incredible kids?
But don’t think for a second it did not come without conflict, or depression, or anxiety, or exhaustion.
To be born in the top 1% is to be born onto a world class team.
Some can handle that environment, thrive, and become even better versions of their parents.
Many cannot. Many young girls succumb to eating disorders. Many abuse alcohol and drugs. Many young guys define their worth solely in achievement, and many girls find purpose in their ability to maintain the perfect image. Many struggle with overwhelming insecurity. Many struggle to discover who they truly are, because they are constantly reminded of how lucky they are with all their privilege—and how terrifying life would be if one day it all got taken away.
I know how lucky I am. But I was one of those kids.
It’s not as “perfect” as it seems from the outside.”