There was a time when I was surprised by my midterm test. It was not because of the difficult questions but the closing statement my lecturer wrote. At the back of the test paper, instead of “Good Luck” he wrote: “Create your own luck”. Magically, those four words have resonated in my head until now. Why?
Well, before I explain the reason, let me tell you a very brief story.
I was born into a privileged family. True. My grandparents from my father’s side had a fortune. But it only lasted until my grandfather passed away. I was four at the time he left us forever. On the will, he spared his treasures to his children including my father. It got us a proper house with good things inside. But unfortunately, it had an expiration date. My father divorced my mother with no alimony. At the age of 5 going to 6, my mom who had no college education needed to get back to work after having quit since my existence.
She worked super hard to provide her two children with good education and of course, staples. No wonder, my entire childhood was cherished with financial adversities. My mother had to work office hours and spend the rest of the evening baking for some extra money. But blessed that we were, she could turn the tables. Fast forward to years later, she climbed up her success. Her resilience brought her manager position and college education. As a bonus, she even could travel across countries she only could wish for —though she only gained those privileges in her 40s. She, who was born into an underprivileged family and lived in a terrible marriage tragedy, could survive the struggle, create her own luck to raise her two children and lead us to have higher education. My mother knew she could not wait for luck to save her family. The only luck she had was herself.
Our financial adversities when I was a kid also affected my journey to create my own luck. Studying in a private school did not let us breathe smoothly. Besides the tuition, my mom could not afford extra educational expenses for additional courses out of school, just like [almost] every smart kid in my class. She also could not afford the time to help me study. I had been a lone wolf to autonomously fill my knowledge with less access and supervision. But then (maybe unconsciously influenced by my mom’s resilience), I created my own luck to further my education.
My first create-my-own-luck moment was when I wanted to enroll in a public university. Like it’s hard? Hell, yes, for those who attend vocational high school. Now, for those who don’t know, a vocational school graduate is directed to get a job. It means the curriculum shows a huge difference from regular high school. Even math and social science.
We don’t study the same math subjects as well as social science. We focused on the subjects we major in. My case was accounting. So when I crazily enrolled in a public university, I borrowed three-year regular high school books within 4 months. When my high school friends freed themselves from the studying obligation I must lock myself in, rejecting fun invitations and studying. extra, extra hard. I absolutely knew I was no “Mathilda” so I couldn’t undermine these packs of tests. Thus I had to create my own luck.
Back to the powerful “create your own luck”, I was internally moved reading those words. It appeared to be a reminder of how far I would go creating my own luck all those times because I don’t have parents who can pay my Harvard tuition every time I wish for. All I need to do is study. Hard. Most of the time I have to work between my lecture schedule just to earn pocket money in case I need a little refreshment from the overpopulated Jakarta. Sometimes, I have to pay the installment on my laptop or cellphone, just to keep up with urban civilization. So, I don’t have the luck to survive this ecstatic world.
And it is not just me. I know many people around me who always rely on their own luck by creating them, not waiting for their parents or their parents’ network to help them step up the ladder.
There is also a friend who did not favor a college education but before 30 she has been in the management level. She even lived by herself in a different town from her family, with no financial support. She created her own luck to attempt at providing herself with the fortune she earned.
I know that maybe there are people out there who sometimes feel they are out of luck. This world has nothing good to store them. Probably what they need is not luck from a Ginnie on the lamp or so-called privileges. Probably what they need is to create their own luck and stop waiting for life to be fair. It is very liberating to be able to choose, to create our own path. And because it is our own path, it does not mean being the same as those privileged brats, enrolling in some international institutions to have a house and car before 30 or getting married again before 30. Define your kind of luck and privileges.