There’s no such thing as a self-made man

Successful white males are particularly in love with this delusion

If you’ve achieved some measure of success in your life, have Northern European ancestry and possess a Y chromosome, please stop spreading this narcissistic myth.

Let me repeat that. For the sake of civilization, please stop.

You aren’t self-made. Nobody is devaluing your hard work and study, but you have been experiencing the benefits of compound-interest your whole life.

Let me give you an example.

My parents paid me $5 an hour to read books when I was a little kid. Consequently, I would spend my weekends reading novels to earn enough moola to expand my already massive Lego collection.

This is the very fucking definition of privilege.

I developed a lifelong love for reading at a very early age because my parents could afford to pay me minimum wage to indulge in pure academic abstraction. It sounds ridiculous just typing this.

Do you think the vast majority of Americans, who are only earning minimum wage themselves, can afford to do such immaterial things? They need to worry about the price of a gallon of milk, not whether or not little Damian properly understands the symbolism behind the Conch shell in The Lord of the fucking Flies.

Which brings me back to compound interest. Developing an early love for reading is a huge advantage that pays off more and more over time. Hence, increasing returns on the principal investment. And this is just one of a million things my parents did to help me out at an early age. It doesn’t even factor in the inherent societal advantages associated with being a white male (which have been well documented and we don’t need to get into).

The myth of the self-made man, largely propagated by rich white men who were born into a world of privilege, is the reason why poor people in the deep South think Donald Trump is a good businessman. It’s the reason the impoverished blame themselves when they don’t get that much needed promotion. It’s the reason their lives become pits of self-loathing and despair and they withdraw into a world defined by reality television and NFL drafts. It’s the reason they have little compassion for Syrian refugees and other immigrants. After all, everything about their world has taught them that successful people are self-made and nobody gets any help, so why should we make an exception for refugees?

The myth of the self-made man reminds me of a lush suburbanite garden in the arid Mojave desert. Such landscaping is a total fraud and shouldn’t exist. It’s like a giant sequoia redwood tree planted in infertile soil. While all the other pigmy shrubs and weeds are struggling to survive, the sequoia has an army of gardeners secretly tending to its every need in the middle of the night, increasing its stature and compounding the deception.

So, yeah, please shelve your ego and stop this nonsense. And if you really want to break this oppressive myth into a million pieces and spit on its grave, then do one simple thing: Give way more credit to others who helped you along the way in a public announcement.

Nobody will think any less of you. Compassion begets compassion. Sure, it would be impressive if some titan of industry got their start as a homeless orphan child who had to scrap their way to the top, one 25-cent can at a time, while fighting off junkies and giants and dragons. But such struggle only really exists in the minds of delusional narcissists.