What I learned from my time at a low-income, low-ranking high school.

I was lucky to have the experience of splitting time between two starkly different high schools.

Freshman year was spent at a so-called “bad” school, where many students came from lower-income families. We’ll call that School A.

The other three years were spent at a “good” school, where students drove brand new Jeeps and attended extravagant pool parties. This is school B.

During my one year at School A, I made more friends than I did my entire time at School B. This was even when I had no sense of style and often forgot to put Vaseline on my disgustingly chapped lips.

How was it that at School B, where I was more mature and conscious of “blending in”, I could count my friends on one hand at the end of sophomore year?

It all boils down to one thing: money.

The beauty of being raised in a lower-income community was that people had a fundamental understanding of a crucial life lesson: money doesn’t bring happiness, people do.

Rich kids have the cop-out of using money to feel temporary satisfaction. When they’re feeling down, they can simply indulge in material possessions. Or even worse, they could use the money to buy fake friendships.

Poor kids don’t have that option. They can’t just buy a new Xbox when they’re sad. So they’re forced to find happiness through a good company.

The effects of this phenomenon last long beyond childhood. I was shocked to recently discover that one of my most generous friends comes from a low-income background. This is someone who once snuck away from the table to pay for two of his friends’ meals and never mentioned it.

So if you’re ever feeling stingy about spending money, just remember one thing: money doesn’t bring happiness, people do.

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The Problem With Being Rich was originally published in Be Yourself on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.