“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I was a 17-year old Ayn Rand devotee. The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Anthem — I couldn't trumpet loudly enough Rand's message of individualism and self-determination.

That 17-year-old self wouldn't know what to make of me now. Maybe it was coming of professional age during the recession, at a moment of extreme income inequality, when the "have-nots" suffered disproportionately because of the actions of the "haves". Maybe it was working to develop savings instruments for lower-income communities during an internship or partnering with a financial counseling program for an independent study. Maybe it was confronting some of my own personal failings.

Apologies to Howard Roark, but good does not always come to hard-working people; weakness is not tantamount to moral failure.

I want to treat struggle with compassion. I want to create the conditions for those who have fallen to get back up — to save, to build assets responsibly, to obtain the basic tools for upward mobility.

Ayn Rand might say I've gone soft. I say thank goodness.

— Kaelin Goulet