Personal Essay: How Where we Live Affects how People Perceive Us

My first house was a small suburban home, made of red bricks and tan siding. We had a small front lawn, where I would learn to bike and get stitches from said bike, and a spacious (but not in any way private) back yard: with a screened in porch, patio, and quaint tree house.

I would spend my days in this house getting a little sister, playing with my big dog and two adorable cats, pretending with my best friend from down the street.

In this house, I was sheltered. I was just like everyone else, and it wasn’t a bad thing.

But, my pets passed away, my sister went off to college, and my parents set on building a huge mansion-like house to spend the rest of their lives in.

As more people moved to our street, my little sister had about 8 other little girls in her grade move in. Suddenly, every day was a play date or party or social gathering.

When I was with the other kids on my street, I was part of something larger: a little community.

But then, I got older. Middle school threw me into a category: rich. I’ve never had much spending money, I’m lucky if my parents give me money to eat when they send me off to spend time with my friends!

But, every time people come to my house, suddenly I’m never allowed to have a bad day, or dream of a new phone for Christmas, or not be perfectly perfect. Because after all,  I live in a big house. I must have everything I could ever desire, all the money in the world. And when you have all that, you must be happy all the time.

I don’t think people realize what they say hurts. One of my close friends once remarked that I was selfish to be angry with my parents, after all they gave me everything.

People will guilt you for what you have, and more importantly, what they don’t. Suddenly they think that objects are a good substitute for love and time with family.

They also think I get everything handed to me on a silver platter. I mean yes, my parents give me presents on Christmas and my birthday and they buy me school supplies. But my parents still make me work to earn things and keep them; like my first phone. They require me to do chores: sometimes more than my peers and friends are doing!

And, even in a big house, I still get bugged incessantly by my parents like everyone else does.

I’m just normal, so why is everyone treating me like some sort of snobby princess???

One thing that irks me the most is that people just don’t understand. They don’t understand that my mom cleans all day even though we have a cleaning service come once a month. They don’t understand that my sister is highly allergic to mosquitos, and that’s why we have a company spray the woods behind my house. They don’t understand that my dad is always busy working, or on a business trip, so we need help getting our lawn mowed.

All they see are the luxuries we’re getting. Not the lack of togetherness/family time, or the stress from such a busy schedule, or our perfectly average lives.

It used to make me, no, still does, feel bad for what I have. My parents aren’t rich because they did nothing. They started almost too poor to pay rent. They gave up their dreams so that they would have something to eat every night. We lived an incredibly frugal life so that we could afford to someday settle down and enjoy life. And guess what, we’re still working for it.

Even though my family has changed since when I was little, we’re no different from yours. We still go to church, and on mission trips, and volunteer as much as our schedule permits. We still fight, and argue. We still like to have fun and do normal things. We still have to save and work hard to afford what we have. We’re just like every other family, if you would only look past the stereotypes.

So, when you look at my family you can see one of two things. A family doing well, or a family that has striven to get where we are today: home.

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