I believe that bad things just don’t happen to some people. I recognize the absurdity of this statement, and yet I am certain of it. You see, I am one of those people to whom bad things just don’t happen. And I believe I know why.
My parents went through protracted divorce and custody fights during my formative years. To this day I am not sure how my mother managed to scrape by working administrative jobs in the Cleveland suburbs. We never had much, but in the manner of Scarlett O’Hare, the experience gave me with a drive to study business and achieve my own financial independence.
The other kids made fun of me in elementary school for being overweight. So at 13 I began weightlifting, running and eating healthfully, which I continue to this day while my peers fall victim to slowing metabolism and expanding waistlines.
Without a stable family as a model I naturally feared making the same mistakes with my own family. So after an 8-year courtship I finally accepted that I was my own man and now have been married for 5 years to a wonderful woman.
My parents never pushed me to excel in academics. Neither parent received a bachelor’s degree. My older brother almost failed out of his vocational art program. In typical second sibling fashion, I had an urge to rebel. I made valedictorian of my public high school class, and went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Georgetown and a master’s from the University of Virginia, both with over 3.9 grade point averages.
My parents contributed about 2 percent of the price of my college education. So I learned about financial aid and managed the money I earned working at a hotel during high school. I put myself through college and paid off my debt soon after. I even paid cash for my graduate degree. I now donate each year so others can get the same generous financial aid I enjoyed.
I had no family connections in the business world. I networked out of necessity to find internships and jobs. I found that connecting other people repays the favor tenfold. Today I am a partner at a fast-growing consulting firm, doing work that I love, and taking time to mentor high school and college students to follow a similar path.
So, bad things do happen to some people. Perhaps they grew up in a broken family with financial hardship, didn’t have the resources or parental support for college, or didn’t have relationships to break into the business world. Maybe they were teased as a child or developed bad eating and exercise habits they couldn’t shake. My heart goes out to people who had to endure hardships and couldn’t achieve their goals. We all know people who seem to only have bad luck.
But I am happy to say bad things just don’t happen to some people. Because some people just don’t believe in bad things.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.