While his mother ensured childhood trauma and bullying didn’t bog Elon Musk down, his genius rose to the occasion every time life threw a challenge at him.
Contrary to the deluxe life that Elon Musk is leading now, his childhood was traumatic. Elon Musk is a hybrid child, born to a Canadian mother, Maye Musk who is a model and a dietician, and South African father, Errol Musk who has served as a pilot, sailor, consultant, electromechanical engineer and a property developer.
Musk was only 8 years old when his parents divorced in the year 1980. After the divorce, Elon Musk along with his brother Kimbal Musk and sister Tosca, chose to live with their mother. However, at the age of 10, Musk repented (and later regretted) for leaving his father alone and depressed and therefore, moved to his house. Within no time, Elon Musk realized that his father was a “terrible human being‘ as quoted by Musk during an interview with Rolling Stone in 2017.
Watch: Childhood hardships in the life of Elon Musk
Nothing was better back at school for Musk
If things back in the family weren’t enough to make life difficult, Elon Musk suffered from extreme bullying in school. Musk was the youngest and the smallest student in his school and was frequently picked by the boys. According to Elon Musk’s first wife Justine, Tesla CEO was a really lonely kid while growing up.
To quote Musk’s elder brother Kimbal, “Kids gave Elon a very hard time.” The awkwardness and trauma reached its peak when once, a group of children threw him down from the stairs leading to Musk being hospitalized. However, the smart child that Elon had always been, he soon found an escape and solace in coding and softwares. According to Tosca, Elon’s sister- “He was on computers as soon as they were available to us.” At the age of 12, Musk sold the source code of his original video game for $500.
Due to the bullying episodes, Elon Musk transitioned between several schools while growing up – Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Bryanston High School and finally graduating from Pretoria Boys High School. Soon after completing the schooling, Elon Musk applied for a Canadian passport due to the better prospects of making an entry into the United States. During the documentation process, Musk went to the University of Pretoria for five months to avoid the South African military service. Finally, it was in 1989 that Musk reached Montreal and lived in a youth hostel before moving in with a second-cousin in Saskatchewan.
After a year of working odd jobs, Elon Musk attended Queen’s University in Ontario to study physics. However, he soon transferred to Pennsylvania University after two years. In 1997, Elon Musk graduated from the Wharton School with a degree in physics and economics. Elon Musk enrolled in a Ph.D. program for energy physics at Stanford University in California and got accepted. However, he listened to his inner calling that wanted him to join and make it big in the internet industry and therefore, dropped out from Stanford in two days.
Elon Musk’s Mother Worked 5 Jobs To Raise Her 3 Children
Elon Musk’s 70 years old mother, Maye, is a model and dietician. 22 when she married, 9 years later, Maye had the responsibility of raising 3 kids with limited means to meet the end. In an interview with Forbes, Musk’s mother said that at a time, she had to work 5 jobs to feed her children and give them a living. She was a researcher at the University of Toronto, teaching twice a week at a nutrition college and twice a week at a modeling agency. She also gave talks and did counseling. In another interview with Huffington Post, she told how, after divorcing her wealthy husband Errol Musk, she herself had to manage the roof and food for her and her three children.
To quote Maye from another interview, “I remember crying when one of my kids spilled milk. The saying goes, ‘Don’t cry over spilled milk.’ I cried because I couldn’t buy another milk that day.”
Maye recognized Elon’s unique talent when he was a three-year-old kid. However, she knew that geniuses often “end up in a basement being a genius but not applying it”. She tried her bed to ensure that she supported Elon at every step. When Elon started Zip2, Maye was an investor from the start. Maye taught Elon and his siblings to be considerate to others, raising her children with “independent, kind, honest, considerate, and polite, to work hard and do good things.” The result is out there for the world to see.