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Are You Poor Or living in Poverty? This Story Will Make You Smile & Motivate

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Are You Poor Or living in Poverty? This Story Will Make You Smile & Motivate

This story is part of our Life-hacks series and this particular answer from Amit Banerjee on Quora caught my eyes and I couldn’t stop myself from sharing this with you. There are so many things that you can learn from this long and one of the best reply I can think of. It doesn’t matter what situation you are in, always remember you are the creator of your life.

Also read: After 1826 days of blogging, all I can say- Blogging is incredible

You are the creator of your life

It feels suffocating.

I belong to a middle class family and had never seen “real” poverty during childhood. Yes, I had a Hercules bicycle. Yes I was given good education. Yes, I would go to Disney world once a year. Yes, my parents would take me to holidays. I had a TV video game and a huge collection of cartridges my mom bought for me, when I scored good marks.

Then I entered college. My sister’s marriage was planned, dad bought an apartment and had to pay my fees for engineering. All three events happened in quick succession and we were suddenly in debt.

Somehow, we got scammed and got ourselves chained in bank loans and poverty crept in. It was in such a rush that suddenly, I felt jumping from an airplane without any preparation and now you have to learn to fly as you fall. Or you’re dead.

There was this time range of 2 years (2008-2010) I had to fight poverty on my own. Here is what happened

No money to pay college fees. Figure out a way to earn that thing yourself
No money to pay for daily transport. Walk.
– No money for entertainment, movies or parties. Ask your friends for a smoke
– No money for anything except basic food.
– Worst, manage all the heckle of bank. They would send “bouncers” to my house to recover the EMI amount and I had to guard my mom. I was once beaten in my neighborhood in front of everyone for not being able to pay the EMI amount for couple of months. I had to sell furnitures, gold, what not.

I told my father its not worth pursuing my education, given the crisis condition. I should take up a job and raise money for the family. My father said – “Son, you can make money whenever you want but you won’t be able to learn later. This is a difficult time, don’t worry. I myself could not study further an had to take up a job at 18, so I can feed a family of 10 people, my brothers, sister, parents. I won’t let it happen with you. We will somehow manage it, just do your thing”

The year was 2008. My monthly expenses were 900-1500 Rs (this includes food) . My engineering fees was 7000 a month and my family is fighting debt. In Lakhs. Each month, the debt would increase because of that education fee. Imagine the condition of a 22 year old guy who has never seen poverty in his life, sitting with friends who would spend thousands on beer parties and live on their mercy.

I was literally beaten and broken because I had no idea how to generate money, while I am still a student.

  • I gave interviews in a BPO. Rejected.
  • I gave interviews in part time jobs. Rejected.
  • Applied for a teaching job. Rejected.
  • Every door I knocked, I was rejected.
  • Every relative/friend I asked for money, slammed the door.

There was a time in my life when I had just 10Rs in my pocket, just in case some emergency comes in and I have to make phone calls from a local telephone booth. I would walk in the streets for days because I didnt have enough money to afford a rickshaw. I would eat water when I am hungry and try to save as much as possible. I would work for hours in a data entry job and get paid Rs 1 for filling up forms, that way I earned Rs 80-100 a day. I saw my father giving up his scooter to save fuel costs. I saw my mom giving up family occasions. I saw my sister selling her jewelry. I would cry in the bathroom. Alone. For months.

When disaster comes, it comes with a battalion from all directions, all at once.

My girlfriend left me when I needed her the most. She said - ” You’re yourself in trouble, without a job, how will I present you infront of my family? “

I lost her. I loved her, she was the only thing that made me smile but I lost her. For money. (I know she loves me to this day, but she was helpless too. Its not her fault. Situation was against us. I respect her decision now.)

I have died many deaths in those two years but this was the hardest blow. Losing the love of your life because you dont have enough money. I remember our last meeting. It was raining and we were standing below an asbestos shed, enjoying an alpenliebe as that was the only thing I could buy for her.

This shit was so painful that I almost gave up on everything. Weird thoughts started hitting my mind.

Meanwhile, I got a Govt job which I did not like. I walked away. I was broke, beaten and pushed to the corner but I walked away. Somewhere in my heart I had hope. I knew that this is a bad phase which is not permanent. This too shall pass but I could not allow mediocrity to creep in. I had a dream and a temporary crisis is no excuse on giving up on your dreams and settle for mediocrity.

Here is the resignation letter (some portions have been blurred for privacy)

Resignation

They say you will get success when it is the only option you have.

I made up a website with 700 INR. Fuck, I did not have 700Rs to buy the domain name. I bought it again on debt. Here is a bill which is very close to my heart…..(it says Rs 275 in debt)

first domain

I didn’t succeed in the first go. I had ZERO technical knowledge on how to build a website. But that was not going to stop me because I don’t have any other option. My survival depends on this and I have to do it, come what may.

  • My first website didn’t pick up, Account cancelled.
  • I made up a second one. It didn’t work either. Account cancelled.
  • I made up a third website. Failed. Account cancelled again,

Devastated, I gave it a fourth try. Countless hours spent in Googling, coding, writing and building it. I remember those days. I locked myself in a balcony and Googled all day long. Nights, days, weeks, toiled like a madman. I suffered from Jaundice and lost 14-20 Kgs. That was the time I realized what hard work means.

First month, I made $1.29. Second month, I made $8. Third month I made $21.

And then some more. And then some more. And then some more……… Learn how to motivate yourself for blogging when you are demotivated.

Worked like a dog on that and generated $40,000 in two years ( For the curious and those who doubt my story in comments – I didn’t raise it from a single website. Also, I did a good amount of freelancing. This is to ensure I have multiple ways of generating money online, should the main site crashes. The site did suffer a major blow but by that time I had solidified my basement.)

Here is a picture of my balcony, where I used to work on my website and other things (yes a CRT monitor and a broken laptop which college authorities had gifted me)

My first laptop

Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.

Paid off the whole debt. Saved a bit.

Today, I work at LinkedIn. Its like a dream come true for me. (No I am not an MBA. No I am not an IITan. No I did not go to US to get a degree from an Ivy league university. No I did not get it through campus placement. No I did not make it through employee referral. I am just another average graduate from just another average engineering college. I just did one thing and did it well. Put my heart and soul into what I really wanted to do.)

But the lessons I have learned in those two years has helped me shape up my character and be a better person. Those were the longest and hardest 2 years I will never be able to forget. Also the most worthwhile time of my life so far.

I don’t waste money now. No show off. Yearly vacations – Yes. Weekend parties – No. No costly gadgets. Dont buy shit you don’t need. Don’t buy “branded” stuff just because every other clueless idiot is doing it. No. Don’t.

Lesson learned the hard way – Be grateful for what you have.

These days, my parents are looking a bride for me. When the girl’s father asks for my salary, I smile and say “I hope your daughter gets a wealthy guy. Because I know money matters. Every single rupee counts.”

When I return home in flight, a part of me cries. Not because I am spending money on travelling which can be done in train. I feel bad thinking someone in this planet needs this money to feed himself. And here I am, travelling in a jet to save time because I am short in leaves.

Lesson: Be kind, for everyone out there is fighting a hard battle.

Edit: Thanks for all the upvotes. Here I’m sharing the first cheque I received from my website. This was that day when I cried the most. I never encashed it. Whenever I am in trouble, I open my archive and see this cheque. This gives me all the strength I need

adsense income

Some tips to graduates, students who are yet to enter “real world”

1. Lead a loan free life. Need a car? Wait, don’t jump into an EMI. Save and then buy the car. Avoid banks as much as possible. No credit cards, I don’t need cashback and other things. Want to study abroad? Don’t take huge educational loan. If at all you take loans, have something to fall back on. Money is fire, you gotta be careful. Save. Every month Pay Yourself First

2. Make mistakes. Fail, fail fast and make it public. Don’t drag it on. I wouldn’t have succeeded in this wild venture if I listened to people telling me I write shitty articles. In fact, all I wrote for the first year was pure garbage. But here is the thing. I didn’t stop. I kept pressing on because I had no time.

3. Do not be ashamed of your situation. I could have written it Anonymously, so that my Facebook friends never know how miser my life was. But No. I am not ashamed of the truth. Accept life as it is.

4. Do not compare your life with anyone.

I see a new trend, specially in Quora. People comparing their life with IITans and IIM graduates. As if, IITans don’t have any struggle in life. As if IIM graduates are the happiest people. Trust me, its a myth. They too have challenges, they too have problems in their life. Keeping the expectation of society because you’re an IITan or IIM graduate is no easy feat. The moment an interviewer sees the word IITan on a resume, he himself prepares the toughest questions. If you compare your life with someone else’s, you will not achieve peace.

5. Be very careful when success comes to you easily. It’s treacherous path to tread down. You must see failure before success, otherwise you will not know the value. Lets say you sit in a campus interview and clear it in one shot, take up the job and keep doing it for years, chances are high that you will regret – “Why I did not explore? What for?” Also, do not expect to get lucky everytime. You will be in trouble somewhere down the road, then what are you going to do?

6. Do something on your own. However small or big, doesn’t matter. Do something completely from scratch and learn how to sell that thing. This will teach you life lessons you will use for the rest of your life.

This will also give you huge confidence. I don’t have any fear in my mind. Fear of what? The worst that can happen is that I will lose my day job. So what? I have worked on my own for 3-4 years without any help and have overcomed a huge financial crisis on my own, without a job. So if I am in trouble again, I know how to make my way.

7. Do not make one disappointment the center of your life.

When some incident shatters all the plans, hopes and aspirations, people start considering that pain and hurt to be the center of their lives and continue to live their lives around it.When people start considering one obstacle, challenge or misery to be the center of their life, and stops the very momentum of life, they cannot become successful in life. Nor can they achieve happiness and contentment.

8. Help people as much as possible. My friend Soumen Halder was with me during that tough phase. We have had many fights. But he was there. When the storm had settled down at my end, he was going through a tough time. I paid back his favor, pulled him out and  secured his position at a startup I was working.

When I was in college, I had a friend Tanmay Ahmed who  separated from his girlfriend after a long 8 year relationship didn’t work out. Later, I found that he had lost purpose in his life. He used to sit everyday and cry like a kid. I decided to do something that would give him hope, reason and purpose.

I taught him how to blog and start an internet business. I gave him my web server, made him a website and showed him the way. Today, his website is doing good, he is self employed and happily married. Here is his website – A Tech Blog from Technology Geeks (he actually rose to be my competitor ;-).

9. Do not be obsessed with “perfection”. You don’t need a perfect solution. You need a solution which is “good enough”. Big things will happen from many small things. So lets say if you have 10 small things in your pocket, one of them will be big. You don’t know which one is your trump card.

Now this calls for a well deserved rant, take it with a grain of salt.

<rant>

10. Failure is acceptable. Every single person fails. You know what’s not acceptable? NOT TRYING. I see most people giving up without even trying in the first place.

So you hate your job. What are you doing to find something you love? You dedicate so much for your girlfriend, you spend hours chatting in Facebook, you go to weekend parties and then on Monday morning, you are ready with your excuses. Stop pretending. Yes You, I am telling this to you. Stop being a hypocrite to yourself. Yes, I am angry and shouting because I know you’re not giving your 100%.

You keep feeding excuses to your brain everyday. Things like – “I don’t find time to do this. I don’t have 60%, I won’t be able to sit in some campus placement interview, I am a loser. She will leave me, my parents, he is lucky because he has an MBA, I don’t have a rich father, recession is coming, not many companies are hiring electrical engineers, everyone is shooting for IT companies. I must get some money to pursue MS from US, otherwise its impossible to succeed…..I am a girl and I cannot survive outside my home because of rising crime against women, I am this I am that….” FUCK..!

WTF dude? WTF are you thinking? You need a massive thrashing from life. Someone must tie you with a rope and beat you up like shit, then you will do it. You dumbass, stop telling yourself those imaginary lies. Stop cribbing over your misery. Stop crying over your weaknesses. JUST DO IT. You’re not a kid who cries over a fucking lollypop. Get off your ass…!!!!!

</rant>

11. Life is hard. Remember that dialogue from Rang de Basanti,

“Gate ke is taraf hum life ko nachate hain, to dujji taraf life humko nachati hai”

I don’t care who you are and how much money you have, life will beat you down to your knees and keep you there if you let it. Be prepared. Value relationships, you will need them someday.

What has poverty taught me?

I got a few questions in my inbox – “If you succeeded in your website, why did you choose a job?

Here is the thing I have learned from poverty, being broke, establishing a small business from scratch. Money is not everything in life. Neither is your job title. Nor is your MBA degree. Life is much more greater than these petty things. Life is all about the experiences you make. I could have sit at home and pursued my website, earn more money but I would miss out experiences which are far more valuable. 25-35 is that time of your life when you can explore and do whatever you want. If you give up your freedom for money, one day you may have to regret it. You’re going to die anyway, so the amount of money in your bank is useless. Make experiences, not wealth. Money is important and it matters but far more valuable is gaining experiences, inviting challenges, accepting how life unfolds. Live in different cities, work on small jobs, you will see the true color of life. You will never be able to realize this if you sit in your comfort zone. Get out of your comfort zone and do stuff you’re afraid to do, do things you want to do.

P.S: I still cry for her.

Some People you can take inspiration from

When you have empty pockets, you will need inspiration. Let me tell you, I am not the only guy out there. I am just average, there are people who have exceptional stories of their own. I know some of them personally, have met a few and have connected online since 4-5 years.

Here is a small list of entrepreneurs and technology bloggers I know whom you can refer for inspiration (in no particular order)

This list is endless and I can go on and on. More awesome people here: The Best Indian Bloggers

Editors Note: It doesn’t matter what stage you are in your life, stand up and think about how you can make it better. What ever is happening today is because of your actions in the past, and what will happen in the future is how you will act today.

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Article by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1070 articles.

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{ 76 comments… add one }

  • Pulkit Trivedi

    I completed my MBA year 2011 and till date I am doing a job. I keep on thinking to start my business online. I searched few things in Google and found some good blog and one of them was Shoutmeloud and started my journey 8 months back. Created two-three blog but failed. Now thinking to leave the blogging and concentrate on job but when ever I read this story it inspire a lot and I’ll start my work again. Whenever I find myself depressed I read this articles and trust me I get some positive energy..

    Now again going to make my next blog (Finger crossed) but let’s hope for the best. Tough Time never last but tough people do.

    Reply
  • Ryan Biddulph

    Amit, great share! I’ve been traveling the world for 3 years running; successful now, but I have been there, as 4 years ago I had 4 cents in my wallet and was $60,000 in debt. Keep on keeping on dude!

    Reply
  • Manish

    As i am also the victim of financial crisis due to loans and credit cards, i wanna suggest everyone that never take loan if you can’t manage to pay it back. if you reverse the loan word lo na in hindi this word itself say na Lo . well this story was truly inspirational. i have not earned so much from internet in the terms of money but i earned the knowledge and confidence. thanks to the inventor of internet and thanks to everyone who write inspirational stories.
    Thank you

    Reply
  • Vishesh Shahani

    Thank you so much harsh and amit for such an inspirational story have learnt all these things in my journey of life. But i think that it is important to keep reading all this all over again each and every time, because human tendency is that we forget these things most of the time.
    Thanks once again :)

    Reply
  • Hari Prasad Chaudhary

    Wow ! Its nice really heart touching, inspirational Article. I am also a new blogger. Learned many things from your blog. I hope one day I will be in you like position. Thanks for posting it Bro.

    Reply
  • PrIyAnGsHu BG

    Great story, the most inspirational blogging story I’ve ever read. This guy is simply incredible, who experienced the worst situations of life and decided to make his way out of his misery. Don’t know him personally, but really hats off to him.

    Reply
  • Sourya Kharb

    Really Inspirational story… I am also from a middle class family. Working hard for something great in my life..

    Reply
  • Abhi Khatri

    Feels like my current situation is described by someone else, this story motivated.
    Maybe I’ll also success someday.

    Reply
  • Rahul

    How the earth you made your $40,000. it is internet marketing or lead generation etc. I can give you ways to make money which works well. But writing that you made $40k is not just enough.

    Reply
  • Syed Usman

    The best and effective part of the article, I found is the below one.

    “I don’t waste money now. No show off. Yearly vacations – Yes. Weekend parties – No. No costly gadgets. Dont buy shit you don’t need. Don’t buy “branded” stuff just because every other clueless idiot is doing it. No. Don’t.”

    Thousands of thanks for sharing this with all of us.

    Regards,
    Syed Usman

    Reply
  • Sadek

    Inspirational story, I see my own reflection in this story.
    Only difference: I have never joined any job, and he resigned from his job.

    Reply
  • Amit

    I read each and every comment and appreciate all the kind words. Thank you everyone. I am sorry I cannot reply personally but yes, I have read all of them. Thanks again.

    Would like to add my two cents here:

    If you are struggling in something, that is a good sign. It means, you have stood up for something in your life. Also, do not be too bothered with low income, low traffic and other things. Yes some algorithmic update comes up and the jar is shuffled. So what? Do not let criticism stop you from doing your thing. When you write blog posts, do not think of whether it will bring results or not. Just write. Discipline is important. When you do something everyday, you will automatically master it. Speed is a natural thing. Driving a car at 120 Kmph is not a skill. The skill is driving the car at 5Kmph in a busy road, braking, shifting gears, making your way through the busy traffic. That is skill. That requires patience. If you are given an empty highway and told to drive at 100KMPH, that is easy.

    There are bloggers with 6 figure incomes. Yes there are. But they also started from ZERO, didn’t they? They were once where you are today. They pressed on and kept doing their thing for years. I know the amount of hard work it requires to make a website popular. It took this blog 4-5 years to reach where it is, so don’t expect results early. And if at all you get results very quickly, chances are high that they won’t last.

    So here is the thing. Your first 2-3 years will be the hardest one. The first step is always the hardest. Put the first step in faith, you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take that first step. Also, don’t think that worked for me will also work for you. It doesn’t work that way. Don’t copy someone else’s methods. Find your own. That needs time.

    Create your MVP. MVP -minimum viable product. Something which is “good enough” for the time being. You can beautify it overtime. Do not spend much time on designing, coding, developing, adding widgets this that. Yes, those are important things too but realize that they are never ending. Content is what people want to read. Content is the product. Design is not your product. So focus on the product. Spend 90% of your time creating content. The first thing I did every morning was open up my feed reader and quickly scan the whole thing. Wait, don’t start reading, you can’t read everything. You have to quickly decide what to read and what to skip. Push your first blog post quickly, this will give you energy and confidence. Next, use your afternoon for long blog posts, if you find something interesting, b log it right there. Don’t save it for later, that “i will do it later” will never come. Yes, people will say that your blog post is bad, it doesn’t make sense, this is wrong, this is crap. Don’t listen to them. They are not going to help you or your situation. Learn to maintain a thick skin – can’t please everyone.

    Also, it is very important to find a good mentor. Join a site, freelance a bit. I will tell you, I started my freelance career with $2 (No, I won’t name that site). Then $5. Then $7. Then $20. Then $40. Then $80. There was a site which paid me $100 for a post for ghost writing. I did a good amount of ghost writing for credible bloggers (no, I won’t name names.)

    When you freelance, you will learn from the experience of another Blogger. You can’t learn everything on your own. Your time is limited. Also don’t expect to learn in one night like you do for your engineering exam (come on man, I know how you pass semester exams). This is serious business, and you need discipline to succeed. Without discipline, you can’t elevate or scale your site to a level where it can generate revenue.

    Now talking of failures, you will fail everyday, so get used to it. I fail everyday. At work, I have no time to breathe. There are days when I see circles in my dreams. This is nothing but getting into that zone. It’s all part of the game. You will eventually master it. You don’t have to go fast. You just have to go.

    @Harsh: I have added some more content to that post. You may want to update.

    Reply
  • Bipin Paul Rajiah

    Very good Inspiration , one can really fit in to this story and life experience. I made quick money online and after reading this iam bit cautious about the money that i generate. Not to fly too high when money is coming in just like that.
    Thanks Harsh for giving Amit sharing his experience.

    Reply
  • shiwangi shrivastava

    Great story, I am overwhelmed from head to toe. Even hitler can cry with this tale. I inhaled every words which make me wordless. Hats off to Amit’s unmatched spirit and sportsmanship.

    Thanks a ton Harsh for sharing such powerful story.

    Reply
  • Krishna Moorthy.D

    That was really really Touching and Motivative. I was so interestingly reading this ,I havn’t read my Chemsitry Text with this much Interest :P . Anyway Thank God for Giving me the Awesome life :)

    Reply

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