How I ditched my poverty tells
By Tracy Moore
A study published in the journal Nature last month about something called “bridging social capital” elicited many no-duhs on social media. The study’s big takeaway was that when the poor get a chance to meet the wealthier among us, they have a greater chance at succeeding. It is beyond obvious, many have noted, that good connections increase the odds of getting a good job.
But as someone who jumped classes, from living below the poverty line to solidly middle class, I can shed some light on the numbers. Being around the better-off didn’t just forge connections that would lead to employment opportunities. It taught me something more crucial: how to act like I belonged in the first place.
There was only one catch: I would have to stop acting poor, which meant polishing aspects of myself that would prevent those friendships from sticking. Smoothing those edges paid dividends, but at the uncomfortable cost of erasing parts of myself. To create a better life, I had to mask the outward signs of a chaotic home life, troubled self-esteem and the mental health effects of growing up for stretches without even basic amenities. Everyone’s history, painful or not, is intertwined with who they are.