March 27, 2019
When I was very little, we lived in a poor area called Hunter’s Point in San Francisco. We lived in old Navy housing, a seemingly beautiful place with odd happenings. On the way to school, we passed by poorer projects where I saw graffiti-stained buildings and old, worn-down sheets used for window curtains. I remember watching children, not much older than my 10-year-old self, sniffing hairspray and paint to get high. I remember the disgust I felt when the bus driver flirted and sang to me, even though I warned him about my father, who just graduated from the police academy.
I distinctly remember visiting a family friend who lived in a nearby house and stared amazed by all the fun toys they had. From the newest dolls, coolest cars and mechanical toys. I was shocked how many toys were the same ones I dreamingly pointed at in catalogues. When I asked my mother why we had a nicer home, but they had better toys, she explained to me the importance of investment.
She explained that there are those who spend frivolously on short term wants versus those who invest wisely towards long term goals. Instead of patiently waiting for their money to grow, people buy a new car, a new gadget or the latest fashions.
While my parents could afford to buy us (and themselves) more toys, they instead, saved and invested their money. We would see this equation of working, saving, investing, waiting and growing – play out repeatedly throughout my life.
Whether they worked towards a bigger home or a new business venture, my parents rarely left me entitled. Despite running much of the household operations, I didn’t get a consistent allowance. When I became a cheerleader, to help cover expenses, I watched my mom write sponsor letters to my dentist, doctor and family friends. Even though I was admitted to a great college, they didn’t pay for my dormitory and I received grants and loans to cover my tuition.
They taught me that something doesn’t come from nothing. Everything achieved was a hustle earned.
Biggest lesson here?
Once you sow something, you must give it light, feed it water, then wait….and wait…and water…and wait…and get frustrated, want to give up…then continue to love it…and you continue to wait. Until, one day, you see something sprout.
Recently I visited the ghetto I once called home and didn’t even recognize the gentrified area. There were new housing development and beautiful shops. Old rundown homes that once costed $49k were now being sold at $650k, as is.
It pays to wait.
It pays to work.
It pays to teach your children that something comes from something.
In the end, you will reap, what you sow.