I like “play the hand you were dealt” as an alternative metaphor.
Scott Reynen
1

The phrase pulling yourself up by your bootstraps always reminds me of Mr. Bounderby in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. He’s sort of a poster boy for an extreme position on personal responsibility. There’s of course some creative license in that character. It’s still interesting to hear where real people land on the agency spectrum in regards to things like homelessness, poverty, alcoholism, unemployment, criminal victimization. Even my own position is sometimes unclear to myself.