I stepped in front of my favorite egg vendor, the granny with her toothless grin. As I picked out a dozen or so fresh eggs, I felt a small tug on my shirt — it was a little girl with a basket in hand.

I ask her what she wants and she gestures, pointing at my wallet. I shake my head at her and turn away, avoiding eye contact. On the outside, I looked the usual, but on the inside, I was torn.

Whenever anyone begs me for money, especially children, I can’t help but feel terrible and most of the time, I do end up giving them money.

But in this case, I didn’t because I didn’t want to trigger the other panhandlers nearby to ask me for money.

So I grabbed my bag of eggs and quickly ran off. As I left, I could feel the little girl’s eyes gazing at me; it was almost as if she could see the guilt within me.

When I got home, I broke down in tears. I felt like a monster.

Did I just ignore a little girl’s plea for help? Even though I’m not financially stable, I’m definitely better off than she is, so shouldn’t I have done my best to help?

After I calmed down and thought it through, I was convinced I had done the right thing — by not giving money. Instead of being sad, I was actually angry.

Angry not at the little girl, but at her parents for teaching her to beg for money. Her parents had directly set this girl up for failure in life because they were teaching her early on that this was the best path towards earning a living. As a kid growing up to know nothing other than to beg, what kind of future will they have? What kind of self-esteem will they have?

I know I shouldn’t judge because I’m probably looking at this from a perspective of someone who’s been given better opportunities, but after having hit rock bottom in my early twenties from a heart-wrenching breakup and realizing that I lacked the fundamental knowledge to survive life — this impacted me even more because I could see my past in her future.

If I had the opportunity, I wish I could’ve told her that she was capable of more, that the path she’s on now isn’t the one she’s limited to. I hope one day, she’ll realize the truth and her potential and live a life worth living.

This post is for her.