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Out of my league

Growing up I did not think there is anything inherently wrong with what I was taught. It was all very straightforward. Wash your jeans when there's a stain, because we only do laundry once a week. At night, keep a lamp on in the room you are sitting in. In fact if you aren't reading or writing, it is best to keep the lights off - it'll help you sleep early anyways. Meals cooked at home depend on what produce or canned goods were discounted in Carrefour (Spinneys is out of the question entirely).


Things were good though. Despite our difficulties, mom always made sure I did not feel out of place. Shopping spree? Let's go to the brand outlet. Eating out? Sure, we've got an Entertainer coupon for the steak joint at the mall. I rarely ever felt left out amongst my friends either. Middle class kids go to middle class schools, and that's where most of my friendships began.


It slowly started to become a different ball game by college. Suddenly my peers were arriving to class in shiny new Mercedes cars whilst I took the metro. And occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a beautiful Louis Vuitton bag that a girl would be using to carry around her notes in. But all that aside, I was fine. I was more than fine. My mom started buying me my first designer bags, and she even got me a new car on a bank loan. But we couldn't go too crazy with money. We weren't at risk of losing anything, but that did not mean we were going to splurge on non-essential items. And that is how I've been living my life, despite the fact that I could potentially be spending money without putting myself at risk.


My perspective of the rich was only based on bias, but what I didn't know is that my fate was about to change. As I stood there in the scorching sun of August watching the gravediggers lower mom into the ground, I was handed some forms to sign to receive my monetary consolation prize. And as I was taught, I used this money to feed myself and put a roof over my head. The bare minimum. Anything aside from this would leave me with a horrible sense of guilt.


As time went on, I began to heal. I also met a wonderful person who showed me a different side to wealth. Money did not have to be fine dining or luxury shopping. Money could be comfort. Money could be hiring a chauffeur black cab instead of a public taxi. Money could be having a fridge stocked with fruit, even the off-season kind that cost $10 for 250 grams.


Still, I catch myself sometimes feeling like I'm out of my league. Like when my first instinct is to grab a slice of pizza when everyone else is using cutlery at a nice dinner. Or how every time I have milk somewhere, the taste catches me by surprise because my family used to dilute milk with water to "stretch it out". I suppose some things take longer to unlearn.

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