A chilly bedsit in central London. Frosty windows and a cramped living quarter are the only discernible features of the humble apartment. Meagre, almost valueless possessions are scattered sporadically throughout the room, with not a single trace of the riches contained in the apartment obvious from the melee. Emerging from the bathroom, lighting a cigarette and leaning precariously out of the window over the busy street beneath, this young multi-millionaire tells us why he’s almost ashamed of his blessed circumstances.
I am rich. However, these riches were not gained through my own personal hard, I am rich because I was born into an extremely wealthy family. My family name, should I reveal it to you would incredibly familiar and known to you for producing products of which you likely use on a daily basis. Sounds exciting right? Trust me, growing up with such a halo of opportunity above your head is not as beneficial as you might think.
Of course, I acknowledge the fact that most are not as lucky as me. If I fail, I know I can return home, ask for assistance and generally keep on living in relative comfort. I understand the privilege of being lucky enough to be able to state, that unless I do some serious fucking up – chances are I’ll never go homeless.
Now of course, there are dozens of problems associated with not having masses of money. I can only try to understand how it must be to worry whether or not you will be able to feed your children this evening. I can only try to put myself in an environment where your children are growing up in slum-like conditions with excrement freely flowing down the street, right outside your front door made of rusty corrugated iron. I’m not ignorant of these problems. Just because I’m not subject to them, doesn’t mean I’m not aware of their existence. And the fact is that in today’s western society, the massive majority of us are not subject to these either, since most of us come from moderate middle class backgrounds. Granted, that means you might not get a Ferrari for your 17th birthday, but it also means you’re not kept awake at night by the sounds of trams passing overhead as you try sleep off the night’s whiskey, beneath some overpass in Harlem. In today’s western society where everyone is entitled to governmental aid, welfare programmes and free NHS treatments, very, very few of us actually know what it’s like to be poor. The fact that you’re reading this means you can at least afford an Internet connection each month, right?
In my experience it seems a working class heritage is something to be proud of and there’s no reason for anybody not to be proud of their heritage. However, there are those who are so loyal to a meagre heritage that they refuse to improve their own circumstances and strive to stay working class, with their only hope of rest through either winning the lottery or retiring at 65, which I might add is nothing to be ashamed of. Though I come from a contrary background: with an opposite mind-set. I want to work hard to make my own name in the world, to produce my own results. I guess this is not surprising coming from an individual with a highly motivated, hugely driven background, but then again why is it that I am made to feel shame for this opportunity, when people enquire?
Every day I get confronted with the worry that people will judge me if they find out whom I am. I was lucky in fact, that my relation to the company is on my Mother’s side, and so I wasn’t raised under the company name, a name instantly recognisable in most countries. And to be frank, it makes me fucking angry that that makes me feel lucky. I am, of course, insanely proud of my families success as they have all worked extremely hard to get where they are. However, once my relationship to the company is noted, people always react in the same way. It’s normally surprise, followed by gasps of astonishment, as if I was some kind of minor celebrity and then my personal achievements get brushed aside as in their eyes I instantly become somebody who had doors opened for them.
It seems almost a personal triumph for many people upon hearing of my lineage; I can see them almost mouth the words, ‘ah! That’s why he’s doing so well’ in some kind of smug self-reassurance. In reality, I attended the same schools as everybody else; I worked an internship for two years straight out of secondary school and I am now studying at university with a strong CV and lots of potential. I took a year out and went traveling; I worked abroad doing different things and generally feel I’ve accomplished quite a lot in my young age. However, everything I have done is through my own means. I saved the money to go travelling by working hard, I worked whilst abroad to sustain my trip; I’m paying for my own university education and haven’t dipped into my parents’ pocket for a long, long time. But still, all I get is, ‘ah! That’s why he’s doing so well.’
A recurring problem is an economic-societal divide. Most rich kids go to private schools and hang around with other rich kids; then attend only the best universities, whilst continuing to only hang out with other rich kids. I never attended a private school and find the whole system fundamentally flawed to begin with. and I have always had the same standard of education as everybody else, and as such, would like to think perhaps I’m a little more grounded than many of my wealthy brethren. But all people see in me is the money.
During my childhood we lived near the flagship production plant for the company. This meant I was attending school with the children of my family’s employees and using the same shops where people spent the money my family had paid them. Of course, evil stares were common, coupled with the odd arrogant statement made toward me. I would be lying if I made claims of violence or any real signs of malice toward myself, though this feeling of social un-acceptance was enough to make me feel truly ostracised from much of the community. And when I think back to it; what asshole stares threateningly at a child just for being luckier than him?
The main problem for people like me is the rich young playboys. Rich young playboys who jet around the world on daddy’s credit card; sipping Cristal and shooting up in only the most exclusive clubs. These kids paint a bad image of us young and wealthy and only encourages the public to hate-on those who are more fortunate than themselves. When will people learn, however, that one person does not act for the majority?
It is a shame that I cannot freely tell people of my heritage, I am proud of it, and the fact that I have to hide it makes me feel extremely ashamed, as if I don’t deserve to be a product of my family’s hard work. They used to say that if we don’t appreciate their legacy then they have worked for nothing; please, let me allow them to have worked for something.