- Intense, almost unreasonable, faith, hope and an inner drive to create a better life
- Relentless learning: how to speak well, dress better, manage money, and many life skills that you don't learn at home, but that the middle class take for granted.
- Willingness to unlearn almost everything you think you know about people and yourself
- Readiness to leave where you live (most of the time)
- In most cases, you will have to give up your current social support system, too. Very few friends you have before your life changes will still be your friends after - mainly because they will start to feel that you hvae "crossed over" to the other side. They will feel like you are no longer their equal no matter how hard you try to not have them feel that way.
- It requires hope against hope and resilience for every time you get knocked back down
- You must have faith that you'll make new friends and someday you will feel like you fit in or maybe you will always feel different, but somehow one day, you will adjust, you will find your tribe and feel like you belong somewhere
- Getting out of poverty also requires having someone outside of yourself to believe in you and support when you feel unworthy and ill-equipped to go any further and just want to give up. I was lucky enough to several mentors like this who helped through my darkest days.
Getting out of poverty is extremely complex because it's not about the money or even about what you can learn in a classroom. It is about what you have to learn about your own identity, what you have to unlearn, and what you have to give up emotionally, socially, psychologically and culturally. How driven you have to be, how resilient and determined. You have to have extraordinary faith and live through many a shattered dream of what you think it will be like as you transition into a better life materially.
Nothing turns out to be like you thought it would be. For example, owning a home turns out to be much harder I ever imagined because I never lived in a house before. I grew up in tenements - I knew nothing about all the maintenance required!
As you get into the work world, you may constantly feel like you don't fit in and have to put on an "act" - faking it till you make it. You have to learn new ways to talk, dress, new manners, new life skills, everything about who you are culturally has to transform in some way.
That is the real reason poverty is so hard to get out of and why you can't just give people money to fix the problem - you have to be willing to give of yourself, your time, and your presumptions of the behavior you expect from people.
From an organizing perspective it makes you especially vulnerable to acquiring clutter and having difficulty letting go of it. There is so much else you have to let go of just to break through. Getting out of poverty requires a constant process of becoming aware of your values and priorities, making tough choices, letting go of emotional, physical and time clutter, and making room for what's really important to you. As organizing coaches, we are often dealing with people who did not grow up with abundance. Many of my clients share with me how their organizing difficulties arose from life changes that are generated by having more money.
I wrote more about my experience with transitioning out of poverty, and ways everyone can help make a difference in their daily lives over at Joyful Jubilant Learning. I'd be honored if you have a minute to read it and leave a comment. Also please let me know about your post so I can link to it here. Thanks for caring enough about poverty to have read this far. You must be such a compassionate and kind human being. I appreciate you taking the time to read this post!
- Jeri Dansky - Control the Clutter and Fight Poverty
- Joanna Young - Words That Make A Difference: Blog Action Day
- Cynthia Friedlob - The thoughtful Consumer
- Jackie Hollywood Brown - Adventures in Organizing
- K & the 3Ds - On Mentoring to Help Lift Children Out Of Poverty
- Valerie Bowman - Thoughts on Poverty