For most of us, the life of a billionaire is the ultimate fantasy - mansions, models, fast cars, private jets, who wouldn't want all that?
Well, the truth, it turns out, is a bit more complicated.
I can’t tell you my name, but my parents are billionaires. My father is an investment banker, but most of his money comes from being the son of a real estate tycoon. My mother was born into an old-money family.
What's it like to be a child with billionaire parents? Well, I certainly wanted for nothing. But looking back as an adult, my life was actually kind of repulsive because I was able to have nearly anything that I even thought of desiring.
Want to get a car? Sure, I'll call the guy. I had my own American Express Centurion Credit Card (or as some people call it, a Black card). I could buy nearly anything I wanted without worrying or even glancing at the price tag.
Growing up was kind of like a vacation. We traveled constantly. We flew in a private plane and would always stay in the best hotel suites. We had (and still have) 15 homes around the world, including a private island.
We have a full staff, including gardeners, maids, cooks, butlers, security, etc. and I do not remember a time when we did not. For the main part of my childhood, I was "raised" by these people.
Like many other children of wealthy parents, I remember my childhood being slightly lonely. Don't get me wrong, I love my parents. I'm not one of those rich kids who has a strained relationship with their family. But they weren't around much. My father wouldn’t be home 3 weeks out of 4, and my mother would be going to events constantly.
I feel bad even complaining, but... Minimal parenting with an unlimited amount of money at such a young age? There are only so many ways that could go.
All people seem to discuss when talking about being a billionaire are the privileges and the lifestyle and the excess and the fabulousness. But no one talks about the scary part of being a member of a rich family.
And the truth is that being the offspring of two billionaires is terrifying. In some ways, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
You’re always afraid of being kidnapped or killed or tortured or whatnot. It’s not paranoia, it’s the truth. It’s possible and it could happen at any time.
I’ve always had a security team. Whenever I go out of the house, my security group follows. Public outings where there will be a lot of people are intricately planned. I do not remember a time when I've not had a security entourage.
People tend not to think about the limitations of extreme wealth, but I have zero flexibility in my movements. I don't think I'll ever experience something as simple as going to the grocery store alone or enjoying a concert in the crowd like everybody else.
Our homes are decked with state-of-the-art security devices. Seeing those complex security devices in your house, in the room where you sleep, in the bathroom where you shower... It reminds you that you live in constant danger. It's this unending reminder that you're DIFFERENT from other people.
Because your parents have a bunch of money, you can never enjoy one second of anonymity.
Initially, at a very young age, there is no big difference between children of billionaire and everyone else because almost all of us are pampered and coddled, and provided with whatever we want.
But when I was a bit older, a sense of pride started to build inside me and I developed a superiority complex because of the enormous wealth my father possessed. And for a boy in his teenage years, that kind of egotism can be toxic. I became the leader of my gang of friends (with money comes power). I knew I could do whatever I wanted and always be bailed out, and boy did I.
I always wound up in foreign countries for my vacations and every expensive activity was my favorite hobby for about a week. My father had a lot of acquaintances, by virtue of which I happened to meet some smartest people on earth and was lucky enough to spend some valuable time with them.
But now that I’m in university, I am actually living away from home for the first time. And I decided to make a major change.
I decided not to take any more money than I needed to meet my bare minimum expenses. and that has been an eye-opening experience. One of the best decisions I ever made was to live in an ordinary dorm like everyone else. No servants, no frills.
The world appears completely different to me now. I suddenly get this Buddha kind of enlightenment. All these years, I had lived in a protective environment created by my father's money. I have to learn to live on my own if I ever want my life to be worth something more than money.
I was always sent to the best schools. Even if I didn't have the grades to get into a certain school, I'd get in, due to family connections or networking from my parents.
That's something that I didn't understand when I was little. I'm not as smart as these kids, so why am I in the "smart" school? Well, it turns out that you don't actually belong here. You're not smart enough, so Mom and Dad used their connections!
You took a spot from a kid who was smart enough and actually deserved it. Your parents have connections, otherwise, you wouldn't be here! That's what it was like in school. All this money, all this stuff, it doesn't belong to you. It belongs to your parents. It was bought with THEIR money, and you're simply their child.
You don’t deserve anything. If you’re not careful, or if you don’t work to build your own distinct identity separate from the money… that feeling can swallow you whole.
I was very attached with my nanny. When both my parents were traveling, she'd do everything for me. She'd get my school uniform ready, polish my shoes, comb my hair, dress me up, coordinate with the cook to make sure I was getting my smoothies on time and getting enough nutrition in general, travel with the driver to pick and drop me to and from school/activities, feed me, make sure my tutors were on time, supervised me while my tutors were at home (I was never allowed to be alone with my tutors) etc.
Only later on in life, when other people told me, did I realize how strange it is to have such an intimate relationship with someone who is not a relative but an employee. But this is true for most people who grow up wealthy.
As a kid, I honestly had no idea that my family was rich.
Since I went to a school where all the kids came from similar backgrounds, I had no idea that other kinds of lives existed outside my little bubble. Whenever I saw poverty, I thought it was because those people simply hadn't worked hard enough. It never struck me that poverty was a more systemic issue until I studied it at college!
I think there is a perception that rich kids are always spoilt. This is not always true. I was raised with a very, very strong sense of right and wrong. As a child, unkindness and selfishness were reprimanded severely. Empathy was encouraged. If I did something wrong, I was asked to introspect my actions and think about whether it was the right thing to do.
There was a BIG, BIG emphasis on 'Behaviour'. From a very young age, I was trained in full table etiquette and regularly attended fancy dinners with important people. After every social occasion, I remember feeling extremely nervous about how my parents would look upon my conduct. If I did something wrong - such as not answer some politician’s question in a polite enough manner, for example.
I want to update the post to show you the situation/ problem in rich kids.
I have two types of friends. One, normal kids I hang out with who have ambitions, work hard and want to achieve something.
Also, there are kids like myself - from rich parents. Most of them just want to spend their parents’ money. The problem is that not a lot of rich kids are actually smart, have good genes, or want to achieve something. They’re just lucky. I think the best way to raise a kid is to only provide them with food/medication/education, and not buy him a lot of expensive things.
You can definitely take him to vacations to see the world, buy him an expensive watch for an 18th birthday etc. But giving access to a life of unlimited luxury is doing them no favors. I’m very grateful to my parents for not raising me this way.
Being born into a wealthy and prominent family is a bit like being born into a shadow.
You are reminded constantly to NOT RUIN YOUR FAMILY'S REPUTATION. Also, anything that you succeed at goes back to your family, not you.
You are constantly reminded how successful and great your parents are. Your parents did this! Your grandparents accomplished this! Now, what are YOU going to do? Is it going to be as great as what they did? You are raised with the highest of expectations.
Today, as a young adult, I'd like to think I'm out of that crazy tunnel. I make my own money, and I support myself financially. I suppose by definition, I'm still a billionaire. As for my parents, I know they'd always help me out financially if I were to ask them, and I am grateful for that.
But I'm also grateful that I managed to work my way out from under the shadow of my family legacy in order to become my own person. I feel like a lot of people born into similar situations never manage that.
My dad is a self-made man. Growing up in India, he and his 3 siblings had very little to share amongst themselves. He only had one pair of slippers which needed constant mending. He studied under the street lights to cut down on the electricity bills and lived in a small house that would flood up every time it rained.
Compared to his classmates and colleagues he was probably 100 times more diligent - this quality remains to this day. He is extremely driven and motivated. He worked his way up and ended up extremely successful.
Growing up, I saw very little of him. As a child, I remember being excited to say 'hello' to my dad when he called from overseas. I distinctly recall one incident that happened when I was 6 years old - my dad was returning from one of his international trips. I remember the moment my dad stepped into the room. He had brought with him from Japan, a massive custom-made doll just for me.
I started wailing uncontrollably. I had no idea who this man was and what he was doing in my mom's bedroom. The doll scared me and I thought he had brought it as a reward for allowing him to spend time with me. I rejected both the doll as well as my dad. Throughout my teenage years, I saw very little of my dad. It wasn't until my early 20s that I really started forming a bond with him.
It depends. Firstly, it depends on how your parents earned their money. In my case, my father comes from a middle-class family. In his 20s, he became a millionaire. In his 30-40s he became a multi-millionaire. By the time I was born, my dad was worth over 300 million dollars and now he is a billionaire. So, my brothers actually lived through the time when my father was not super rich.
My father always told me to watch my spending as he never really spends money on himself because he earned his money -- I am only spending it. Most of the money he spent on me was for my education. He valued education so much because he did not have the chance to go to prestigious schools like I did. For instance, he never bought me a car until I graduated from college.
He never approved of my spending habits such as dropping 30k on watches. I actually bought two of them once, and he yelled at me on the phone for this kind of spending. But when it came to education, he would drop thousands of dollars with no regret.
After I earned my Ph.D., I left academia. I built a home office and a personal library. I do independent research and write novels nowadays. I just live to learn because I don't need to do other mandatory things that others need to do such as working full-time. So, I can devote my time to whatever I want.
All in all, I can safely say that it is good to be a child of a super rich person. But again, this is my own experience and I know from my friends that there are super-rich families which are torn apart pretty badly. For instance, one of my friend’s father died 7 years ago and there was a dispute about his wealth that ripped their family apart. To overcome this problem, my dad made us sign a paper about wealth distribution after he passes away.
Despite the fact that I come from a super rich family, my dad forbids me to show off. But then again, who am I going to show off to? All of my friends are already as rich as I am.
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