*If you hate reading, you can see a summary of this blog post at the bottom of this page*
Almost every single young person with a nice car has been accused of being “sponsored by mommy and daddy.” I know I have at least – and sadly more times than I can recall. In the car community I often see memes being shared normally saying something along the lines of: “built not bought”, “I worked for my car”, “blah blah rich spoiled kids suck at life”, and so on and so forth. Before I go on to rant about the subject, I can sum up my entire take of folks who come from wealth and those who don’t. A lot of times there are accusations that kids that grew up in wealthy backgrounds can’t possibly understand the value of money. Or on the flipside that folks that grew up in poverty just complain. Both accusations are just that – generalizations based on no fact or real premise. So I’ll say it once – Money doesn’t change who you are. Money helps you become more of you are. What do I mean by that? Do you think someone that is poor that grows up to be rich is going to just grow up and be a selfish douchebag? Probably not. Chances are he probably was already a selfish douchebag when he was poor, it just became more apparent when he was wealthy. What about the philanthropist who believes in serving the community – they probably would be that way if they had less money to their name too. I really should dig up my senior thesis on the effects of socioeconomic status on interpersonal relationships, I found a lot of intriguing research on the subject at hand.
So what am I getting at exactly? Well let me start from the beginning…
I grew up in pretty wealthy family (maybe not that wealthy when you live in California), but both of my parents are physicians. I was raised in a nice home, in a nice area, and I attended private school for 13 years. My parents bought me my first car in high school (yes, it was a 350z). They gave me a good allowance and they supported almost anything I wanted to do if it wasn’t completely outrageous. On the surface, many of you reading this now or who knew me back then would just make the rash accusation that I was a typical rich spoiled kid that didn’t know the value of hard work. Well let’s dig a layer deeper. Sure, my parents got me a LOT of great things while I was growing up. The reason being is that when they first moved to this country they had maybe $100 to their name. They struggled the entire way to their wealth and didn’t want my brother and I to experience any of that hardship. It all came with good intentions. Another layer deeper – my parents are the most hardworking people I know! And that is the one thing I will forever admire and thank them for is for them passing down their work ethic to me. When I was 16 years old I wanted to get my own job. I wanted to buy my own car. My parents strictly forbade me and emphasized that doing well in school was my “job” (and by well, I mean straight As. I was not allowed to bring home anything below a 4.0 GPA). So that was the deal – my parents essentially acted as my manager while I proved to them I could work hard and succeed. When I was able to show that I was able to achieve these things, then I would most likely be paid or rewarded with something tangible. I did well and I worked my butt off to earn my first car.
Well I went on to do what teenagers do – act crazy, take their parents for granted, and live life like there’s no tomorrow. I started acting very spoiled, very ungrateful! And you best believe that my “privileges” were revoked quicker than the blink of an eye. My mother especially never enabled or encouraged any of my unhealthy behaviors (thankfully).
So let’s fast forward to college. I was doing all the right things in the eyes of my parents – I was being responsible, respectful, and I was PreMed. I was en route to taking up the family trade of being a doctor. My parents had an idea that I really liked cars, but they weren’t terribly concerned because they figured it was a passing fad. Little did they know that I had made drifting my ultimate goal in life.
I was 21 years old when I officially started drifting (and it started taking over my entire life seemingly). After my parents found out that I was doing this, they threatened to cut me off financially in hopes to get me to stop pursuing drifting. The reasons they hated the idea of me drifting were primarily because they felt it would distract me from my studies, veer me off the track of becoming a physician, and essentially ruin my chances of being taken seriously in society.
Okay, so here I am given this ultimatum. Do I quit drifting and accept the help and financial support of my parents? I can easily take up another fun hobby that they support and I won’t have to worry about struggling with money. Or I can just continue chasing my dream and figure out a way to make it work. I chose the latter. I knew what I wanted.
I found a minimum wage, part time gig on campus and worked as much as I could. At one point in time I was taking a course overload (over 20 units per quarter) while working two jobs on campus. I knew what I wanted and I knew what it would take for me to get there.
So I would get maybe 350-450 bucks every two weeks (depending on how many hours I was able to work). This covered gas, food, bills, and drifting expenses. So, back then I would go drifting on an 80 dollar budget – that was literally all I could afford. One set of used tires and then off to Willow Springs (back when it was only 40 bucks to drive there). I did this for a little over a year. To put things into perspective, it took me a year to save up for coilovers. I had never experienced burning through a set of new tires until last year (about two and a half years of drifting). You may be wondering how I built my LS3 350z. I very stupidly took out a loan in college (which has been paid off), to finish the build. I am now pretty good at managing my money. I promised myself zero debt for drifting and a real saving towards retirement and a house, even if that means skipping some of the fancy upgrades for the car. I digress.
I learned VERY quickly that I couldn’t continue with the lifestyle I once had – no more shopping for nice clothes, no more eating out (with the occasional Starbucks or Carl’s Jr, I was in college after all). Aw, poor me, right?! In all seriousness, it did require a complete lifestyle change. As with any change, it was difficult. But I survived.
My parents continued this throughout my college career – they really wanted me to follow their footsteps and become a physician (which is still their secret desire). They presented me with many (at times, enticing) ultimatums. My dad at one point offered to by me any car that I desired upon graduation if I gave up drifting.
I was completely miserable during my first years in college as a PreMed student, because it was not my passion. Rather than motivating me to pursue my vocational curiosities, my parents constituted my academic struggles to drifting. My mom presented me with what I considered the most tempting challenge. She said that she would be supportive of my drifting if I took a break from it for one year, focused on school, and earned a 4.0 GPA for an entire year.
More than anything at that point in time, I wanted the love and support of my parents so I agreed. I buckled down, studied my butt off, continued to work, and earned my 4.0 GPA for three consecutive quarters. I was very proud to have made it onto my university’s Dean’s List and statured President’s List. However, I didn’t stop drifting at all during that time. In fact, I became more motivated to continue drifting because I wanted to prove to my parents that I could be successful in whatever I set my mind too. During that year, however, I hid the fact that I went drifting from my parents. Yes, I lied. I’m not very proud of it, but in my mind it was for the greater good.
So when the school year ended, I presented my mom the letter from the university’s President. She responds with, “See what you can accomplish when you aren’t distracted with such silly things, like drifting?” I almost immediately chimed back, “Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you. I’ve been drifting this whole time too. A lot.” I was expecting my mom to magically change her entire perspective about the whole thing, but the opposite happened instead. She implied that I had a problem and loosely equated me to a drug addict because of it. I was completely disheartened. However, that situation taught me a lot about myself – that I do not need the acceptance or help from anyone around as a prerequisite for me to chase my dreams. Although I would have LOVED to have them involved in my passion, I didn’t NEED their approval to get where I wanted to go. I didn’t need their blessing, I didn’t need their money, I didn’t need any of it. I learned to start truly evaluating my needs versus desires.
That’s when I started growing up. I had an epiphany during my sophomore year of college – growing up sucks. Being an adult is hard. Chasing your dreams is even harder. But if you’re determined, you can almost always figure out a way to accomplish your goals.
Since that time, my parents have loosened up some. I’d say they tolerate my drifting. It’s been almost five years since my college experience and they have now come to the realization that this is not a passing fad.
I learned a lot about myself in that time. I learned that no one can stop me from doing what I want. I get very frustrated when people tell me, “Rathyna, I can’t do that. I don’t have enough money. I can’t build a cool car, I’m too poor.” Okay. You might not have a lot of money right NOW – well then start saving. Go find a job. Go mow some lawns. Sell hugs on the Internet. If you really want to build a cool car, then do it. But don’t expect it to happen over night. As the saying goes, “There’s no elevator to success. You gotta take the stairs.”
If your parents are wealthy and buy you cars and invest in your racing program (or any of your passions), that is a blessing. I would never criticize such a thing, because the money has nothing to do with you being spoiled – it’s how you’re raised. If I were in your shoes, I would accept that gift with humility and gratitude. I still have a lot of gratitude for my parents. They may not LOVE my drifting, but they are the most hardworking, determined people I know! They may not have fed me the fish when I was hungry, but they handed me a fishing pole and left me by the lake until I figured it out how to feed myself.
Drifting changed my life! Not in this lame cliché type of way, but it really did help me refine many “life” skills. I learned the value of hard work. I learned that discipline is one of the major components in the recipe to a successful life. I learned to stop making excuses as to why I couldn’t succeed and to begin strategizing on ways to accomplish my goals. This ultimately led me to have a more creative mindset. Although moving away from the “mommy and daddy” sponsored lifestyle was difficult at first, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Although I can look at my drift program and my cars with gleaming pride knowing that I earned all of these things myself, I still pay tribute to my parents. If it weren’t for them instilling their worth ethic in me, I would never have had any of this.
And perhaps I was a lot richer in high school. But I sure as hell feel a lot wealthier now.
· I grew up in a wealthy home. I was given everything I wanted.
· Then I found drifting.
· My parents hated the idea, threatened to cut me off I didn’t stop.
· I didn’t stop. They cut me off.
· I didn’t cry or quit. I figured out a way to do it myself.
· Now I work hard for what I want and it made no real difference in the outcome.
· Why? Because wealth has nothing to do with a person’s work ethic. It’s how they’re raised.
· So if my parents wanted me to quit drifting they probably should’ve just been lazy quitters themselves so I could’ve just learned from example.
· Work hard. Success is yours if you want it. If something you want to do requires money and you don’t have money, figure out a way to make money so you can do the thing you want to do.