Dad who grew up poor perfectly explains why it’s so hard to shake the poverty mindset
A video created by Blake Kasemeier has made a lot of people feel seen because it perfectly explains the mindset people develop when they grow up poor. But it’s not just about remembering the hard times of the past. It describes how even though Kasemeier has overcome poverty as an adult, the effects of growing up financially disadvantaged still follow him to this day.
Kasemeier tells stories on social media about parenting, grief, growing up and where they sometimes collide. He documented the loss of his mom in the 2019 podcast series “Good Grief” and has written for some of the world’s leading health and fitness brands.
The video begins with Kasemeier admitting that when he was young, he’d always save half of his food until he got home “just in case.” It was a symptom of living in a financially unstable family with a single mother who had him at 23 years old. To help them get by, she occasionally wrote “hot checks” at the grocery store and blasted a Counting Crows tape to cover up any scary sounds coming out of the car.
Even though sometimes it seemed like they wouldn’t get by and it was “close most days” — “moms always find a way.”
The video ends with a poignant stanza about the lasting effects of growing up in an economically unstable home.
“It sits inside of you. Kinda like a worry but a lot like a flame,” Kasemeier says. “These days, we are doing alright. Maybe the fire finally went out, but there is a part of me that will always taste the smoke.”
“The thing about being born rich or, rather, not poor, is that when you are broke, it feels like you are a tourist on a bad trip. A place that you don’t belong,” Kasemeier continues. “The thing about being born the other way around, is that as hard as you work to escape it, it’s always gonna kinda feel like home
The post received some emotional reactions from people on Instagram.
“I feel the last sentence is the most profound of this video—and the underlying sense of entitlement many have vs the underlying sense of lack of self-worth others may have,” thewitchofportobell0 wrote.
“Tasting the smoke is a great way to put this. Growing up this way really makes you look at some of your frugality and not norm habits in a new light. Hard to relearn,” Jakemerten added.
Even though there were hardships growing up in an economically disadvantaged family, Kasemeier wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I am deeply grateful for the way I was raised,” he told Upworthy. “Unfortunately, everyone experiences some trauma in their upbringing—I wouldn’t want to trade mine for someone else’s. I grew up to be grateful for what I have and without a feeling of entitlement to success: I expected that everything that came to me was going to come through hard work and being kind to people and that has served me very well. It also allowed me to have a great deal of empathy for what everyone is going through.”
Kasemeier further explained the mindset to help those who weren’t raised in that environment better understand the mentality.
“I can tell you that what I experience is a feeling that the other shoe is going to drop, that when I’m up (financially), I don’t expect it to last—that leads to a lot of imposter syndrome,” he told Upworthy. “There are little things—like constant anxiety that your card will decline when you go to check out at a grocery store (knowing full well that you have more than enough money). There are big things, like financial literacy.”
The video talks about economic insecurity, but is also touching tribute to his late mother, who, as he said in the post, found “a way.”
“She came from a tiny farm in rural Arkansas, moved to Hollywood where she met my dad and had me at 23 without a degree or any connections,” Kasemeier told Upworthy. “They had a shotgun wedding and divorced shortly after, my mom was left to navigate parenthood in a pretty challenging way—something I appreciate so much having kids of my own at a totally different place in my life than she was.”
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