“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”

– Hillel the Elder

I used to be one of those people who put everything off for “one day”.

One day I’ll have all the money I need, and then I’ll be happy. One day I’ll have the perfect job, the perfect life, and THEN I’ll be happy.

But after enough years of continuing this cycle, this habit of putting off all my peace and happiness for a future day.

But if you push everything off to tomorrow, then it will always be something for the future version of yourself to enjoy, never for you. Never for the now.

“Every man has two lives, the second begins when he realizes he only has one”
– Confucious

See, I grew up in a household where luxuries were minimal. In a city where sometimes it feels like stability is a luxury.

I never knew much anything about savings accounts, 401k’s, or investment portfolios. There were times with no washer or dryer, or times when sharing one soda at dinner among all of my siblings was considered lucky. I have woken up covered in bed bugs and cockroaches, I have watched friends I loved and people I know throw their lives away to drugs, or crime, even people serving life in prison NOW for things they can never take back.

I knew at a young age that life was tough. I knew my community was broken, my family was broken. But, I didn’t know how I could help to fix it. What could I do? I’m a nobody.

But I set my gaze forward and promised myself If I could make it out of this, then I could get my family out, my friends out, my community out, if I could just figure it out, then maybe I could help others to do the same.

So when I was young, I set my vision on anything but what I saw around me. My mom used to say I was the “white sheep” of the family.

But really, I felt like an outcast, and so I found a way to fit in wherever I could get in, squeezing my way into rooms and opportunities I was unprepared for, that I was not ready for. I figured, if someone just gave me a shot, then I could make it.

Well after countless jobs, after switching my majors multiple times, after seemingly endless jumps from this thing to that thing. One day I found myself sitting in a chair donating plasma for some extra money watching a “How to Start a Blog” YouTube Video from Create and Go.

Little did I know, that video was going to change my life forever.

Alex and Lauren sold me, they felt so human, they made me feel like, if these normal people can figure out how to create a living online, maybe I can too.

I decided, ya know what? What do I have to lose? I don’t have anything. There aren’t any magical opportunities waiting for me, there are no fancy scholarships, no one was coming to save me, and they damn sure weren’t going to save my family, my friends, my community.

So I decided if I won’t who will? If not me, then who? But the burden was so heavy, I couldn’t even pay my own bills. Much less help my parents who couldn’t pay for theirs. I couldn’t figure out how to actually keep my money, it always seemed to slip through my fingers.

I couldn’t figure out how to keep myself healthy, in any dimension of my life, financially, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I just didn’t have any foundation for a healthy life. I only had the lessons my family and incredible friends sent me into the world with, many I am eternally grateful for.

But how was that going to be enough? The task felt too tall. It felt like I needed to change the world. But I am just one person… how could I?

“Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to help mom with the dishes.” – PJ O’Rourke, or probably some Buddhist monk

But, I quickly realized, that every large step is made up of the thousand little steps that came before it.

So I didn’t set out to change anything for anyone, I just set out, hoping I might see the answer along the way.

I didn’t set out to change the world, I decided I would just try and help mom with the dishes.

– Noah Riggs

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The truth is, often times people think my life is a sob story. But it isn’t.

I have lived the most incredible life, and it took me making too much money, too many mistakes, and too many bad choices to realize I always had everything I needed to accomplish everything I had hoped to.

But it took me a long time to get to that point.

In 2021 I began struggling aggressively with stress-induced amnesia. The harder I tried to remember, the worse it got.

I began to feel a sense of apathy for my life. I began abusing drugs, and alcohol, putting off my work, I began feeling like nothing mattered. No one mattered. When I began to lose people in my life, and began my process of pushing away others, I found myself alone.

I couldn’t even remember the person I used to be. I had lost that person somewhere along the way.

I had plenty of money (that I would soon blow to try and heal my suffering) no work I cared about, a laundry list of mistakes, and was killing myself slowly with binge eating sessions that would make competitive eaters nervous.

I was in a vicious cycle, I would work hard to be the person I wanted to be, I would dive into books, self-help, and make promises to people, and myself. But again and again, I would let myself and everyone else around me down.

Everyone around me would say things like how they looked up to me, and how they wanted my life, but here I was, ready for it to be over.

It wasn’t until I reached this rock bottom, sitting alone in my home preparing for my last night to be alive that I realized… Why? Why am I doing this?

Why when I have a life most would kill for, a home, and people who care about me, I have an incredible life… why would I give it up? What am I afraid of?

I realized that night, I was afraid of myself. I had built this persona my whole life… brushing off how much my childhood hurt me, brushing off my own insecurities, pretending I always had it under control.

I was faking it till I made it. (Which isn’t always bad advice, but I used it improperly)

So, when I “made” it, when I had everything I always thought I wanted, none of it was real. It was for the person I was pretending to be to try and get those things at all.

I didn’t care about Rolex’s and trying to impress people who always overlooked me. I didn’t care about making more money than the people who treated me poorly. I didn’t care about having a bigger house and a nicer car and more, more, more.

I forgot about my mission.

There are people in my life, in my community, who don’t have access to proper financial education, people who don’t know about opportunities to change their minds and the way they look at their lives.

I realized how selfish I was.

Here I was – I learned how to do everything I said I would. I learned about credit, investing, business, emotional maturity, empathy, forgiveness, and how to break free from renting your time out just to live, I had all of the resources I needed, and I was squandering it.

I decided, no matter what it took, I would figure out a way to get past that imposter syndrome, a way to break through that unworthiness we all carry around us.

I took a step back and realized, this suffering, these mistakes I made, these lessons I learned. They were going to be exactly what helped me to reach the people I cared for most.

I am no longer the white sheep. I am not special. My life has been riddled with mistakes, with things I can’t change, people’s hurt I can’t take away.

I had lied, stolen, and forced my way into a life that I wanted, by any means necessary.

I did it. The path wasn’t clean, some might not even say it was “fair” or that I don’t “deserve” the life I have, and you know what? I used to feel the same way.

I don’t deserve the hundreds of thousands of dollars I have made, I don’t deserve to work with the incredibly talented people and companies I get to work with, I’m just some trailer trash ghetto kid from a “no one cares” city where the only morning headlines being made are how many people got killed the night before.

But if that feeling is what will keep me from doing the things that I want to do? Then they can keep that shit too.

The truth is, I do deserve it, and so do you.

You deserve all of the things you hope for in your life, and the best part I learned along the way is, you actually have them right now.

You’re broke? Well, broke is just the start of your rags-to-riches story.

You’re fat? Well, fat is just the start of your weight loss transformation.

You just are choosing not to enjoy the beginning of your journey. You are choosing to say that rock bottom is who you are instead of where you’re starting from.

Wherever you are, whatever you think is too far away or not “for” you, it’s much closer than you think.

It’s actually right here, in the present moment, and nowhere else. Wherever you are might not be the place you want to be, but it IS the path there.

Gratitude is the key. I am grateful for the nights my dad would shove my face in the corner and tell me I was weak. I am grateful for the nights I spent listening to the chaos of my home, wondering what silence was like. I am grateful for the bologna sandwiches, the McDoubles, the Cici’s pizza, and the chips and salsa we would eat at the Mexican restaurants because we couldn’t afford the entrees.

When something would break in our home, my mom used to always say “how blessed we are to have so many things to break”.

She was right, how grateful I am to even have a life to mess up, to make mistakes, to overcome obstacles, and to contribute to relieving the suffering of others.

So, here’s to the path. Here’s to saying “fuck the destination because the journey is all we ever get”.

Here’s to seeing what happens when one person is crazy enough to believe they can change the world.

– Noah Riggs


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