It is interesting to gain insight as to how people value themselves. Self-worth seems to be defined by the amount of money, fame, and success one has rather than innate talent and ability. The truth is that there are different types of capital than just financial capital.
I have a friend in med school who attended a private high school thanks to a scholarship she received based on her academic achievement. Her family was not poor by any means, and in fact they were probably middle class or above; however her peers at the private high school were all members of extremely wealthy families whose parents paid the tuition for them to go there. By very wealthy I mean that it was not uncommon to see Porsches, Range Rovers, and Mercedes in the parking lot of the school. One 16 year old even had his Dad’s old “hand me down” Bentley. Of course there is nothing wrong with being wealthy and awarding one’s kids with the fruits of your labor, but by the sound of it these teenagers had let the money go to their head. By my friend’s account I would say that most of these high school students valued themselves by how much money and type of car they had. If this wasn’t bad enough to have kids valuing themselves in a way that makes absolutely no since, they were bullying kids who didn’t have money as if they were not as good as them.
My friend was often made fun of for not being rich. She drove a used VW Beetle, and she was often ridiculed for driving a car that wasn’t new and luxurious. Clearly, this is high school taunting and bullying for rich kids, but it made quite the surprising impression on my friend. She now believes that people with money have a higher self-worth because of their success. I told her that she couldn’t be more wrong. There are multiple kinds of capital in this world.
Financial capital is a form of capital, and it is easily measurable. However, there are many types of capital that you can use or exchange for financial capital. For example, there is intellectual capital. My friend is very smart, and she will one day be a doctor (probably a surgeon), and she will be able to harness her intellectual capital to make financial capital. There are other forms such as beauty capital. Models can use this to make money at photo shoots, and attractive women can use their beauty capital to find a sugar daddy. There is the ever present talent capital such as gifted athletes like LeBron James and Michael Jordan or performers like Jay-Z. Anything that you are good at or have an innate ability to do that exceeds others’ capacities can be used to trade for financial capital. But how does this define worth?
Let’s take my friend who has an intelligence that is higher than 99% of the population and one of her trust fund baby high school peers. If you took every penny away from each of them, who would have the better chance of being successful in life? Clearly, my friend would be able to start from nothing and become successful. The value of a person does not stem from the amount of money he or she has, but the different and varied types of capital they possess. It goes much deeper than this too. People’s kindness, emotions, and experiences go a long ways in defining who they are.
This little bit of information and different perspective on life made my friend very happy. She finally realized that money doesn’t make the person. One of my major goals in life is to obtain an obscene amount of money that will ensure the security of my future family for many generations, but do not get me wrong…there is so much more to life than money.