I grew up in a dysfunctional family. I didn’t know how to socialize or play fairly with other kids. I was that big, fat, and awkward kid that no one likes. No kids want to play with me and no teachers want to get close to me.
My parents, regardless of their intentions, are not good parents. They confidently taught me the wrong things. I had so many embarrassing memories that were directly caused by the misinformation I got from them which only made me more closed off emotionally.
My parents did not teach me the basics of being a child. I did not know how to say thanks when I receive and I did not know how to offer help. I had zero knowledge of the basic rules for socialising. It’s no surprise I had no friends.
I didn’t perform well in my primary (elementary) school examination and I ended up in a neighbourhood secondary (middle) school that only kids who did not meet the cutoff points of other better schools end up in. In that ‘inferior’ school, I realized not everyone comes from an upper-middle-class family, and that a dysfunctional family is not as rare as the media makes out to be. I felt relieved.
However, a neighbourhood school like mine gets its reputation rightfully so. They had a disproportionately large number of students who turned out to be juveniles. The less severe cases didn’t look happy as well. They look like someone who has a lot of pent up anger and is rejected by society. I didn’t want to turn out like that.
I was lucky because I was the youngest of three. I had an elder sister who is 18 years older than me. This means, there is a person who has lived through this hell-hole and she might know better. Due to circumstances, my sister and I became more like a stranger. However, intentionally or not, she opened my eye when she gave me the first non-fiction book I will read.
The book was the cheesy business self-help type of book, titled “The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Eker. I didn’t like books because when I was in primary school, I’d read through my textbooks cover to cover multiple times as revision for the exam. I did not know how to revise but reading textbooks, evidently, didn’t help with my exam results.
In the book, it talked about the differences in mindset between a rich person and a poor person. It argued that a person with a poor mindset will lose whatever windfall he/she gets. A person with a rich mindset will gain back his/her wealth no matter how broke the person is.
But it went beyond superficial wealth. What the book classified as a ‘poor person mindset’ are traits such as blaming, not taking control of the situation, not improving themselves, shortsighted, and more. Many of these traits are what made this family dysfunctional. No one wanted to take responsibility for anything. No one thinks critically. Outbursts of shouting matches, pointing fingers, blaming, and name-calling happens on an hourly basis.
Sadly, when I bring up enthusiastically about what I learned in the book to my mother, she condemned me for thinking so differently. She wasn’t up for a rational debate. She immediately called me names and dismissed all of these new things I learned. I was shocked. I was also saddened by the realization of this reality.
Since then, I realize the world is such a complex system made up of profound concepts. I got really interested and started reading self-help books.
When I started earning money, I read up on finance and investment books.
When I wanted to find an explanation for a dysfunctional family, I look to psychology, sociology, and neurology books.
When I thought that my thinking process needs help, I read up about morality and philosophy.
When I felt deficient at work, I brush up my knowledge with technical books on programming.
When I want to learn how to build a strong relationship, I turn to books authored by marriage counsellors and psychologists.
There are so many more things I want to know. And because of what I had experienced, I know how harmful it is to be fed misinformation. So, instead of ‘asking around’, why not listen to the opinions of credible people who had taken the effort to consolidate years of knowledge from their area of expertise into a few hundreds of pages, and then stake their reputation by putting their names on every cover of their books. These are well-crafted condensation of knowledge. Not bits and pieces of blog articles crafted to drive traffic nor hearsays that are spoken from an egoistic mind.
If you want to learn, then learn from the best. Reading books from credible authors is one of the most direct ways to learn from the best.
Even now, I cannot read fast and I cannot retain all the knowledge from what I had read. But I still read. The guidance I lack from adults, I make it up with the knowledge I gained from reading. And it has changed my life, literally.