The Myth of Bootstraps goes something like this: I never got any help from anyone. I achieved my American Dream all on my own, through hard work. I got an education, I saved my money, I worked hard, I took risks, and I never complained or blamed anyone else when I failed, and every time I fell, I picked myself up by my bootstraps and just worked even harder. No one helped me.
This is almost always a lie.
There are vanishingly few people who have never had help from anyone—who never had family members who helped them, or friends, or colleagues, or teachers.
Who never benefited from government programs that made sure they had electricity, or mail, or passable roads, or clean drinking water, or food, or shelter, or healthcare, or a loan.
Who never had any kind of privilege from which they benefited, even if they didn’t actively try to trade on it.
Who never had an opportunity they saw as luck which was really someone, somewhere, making a decision that benefited them.
Who never had friends to help them move, so they didn’t have to pay for movers. Who never inherited a couch, so they didn’t have to pay for a couch. Who never got hand-me-down clothes from a cousin, so their parents could afford piano lessons. Who never had shoes that fit and weren’t leaky, when the kid down the street didn’t.
Most, maybe all, of the people who say they never got any help from anyone are taking a lot of help for granted.