I don’t know what to do with my privilege.
No, I’m not a white male in my >40’s. In fact, I’m known as a minority. Add to that the fact that I’m a female.
But I have never been aware of these attributes about myself. I see myself as a general human specimen without being conscious of my colour or gender.
Today though I am aware of myself in relation to the society. I am acutely aware of my privilege. Despite being a minority and not being the “superior” sex, I feel I have had as much privilege as them.
Some may not think twice about the family they are born into but it has huge implications in our lives. Simply being born into an educated family can mean a well paying job, no debt, and an incredible unmatched sense of independence. Not to mention being free from any kind of burden that lets one grow carelessly and which leads to better brain development.
Add all of these factors and it can mean the difference between luxurious meals and literally starvation. Opportunities vs. struggle. Varied experiences vs. routine. Connections vs. none. Abundance vs. scarcity.
But this knowledge has left me with turmoil. I was far better off not knowing and living in my tiny little bubble. Now every time I encounter someone with less or more privilege I can’t help but picture myself in their lives. And it leaves me, on both accounts, with sadness and a bit of anger. Why do I have so much? Why do they have so much? This perpetual awareness of everyone’s position in the society is harmful drug.
But now that I am aware of my privilege, now what?
What do I do with this information?
Do I keep feeling bad for those who haven’t had it? Wouldn’t that just be pity? Should I feel ashamed of my successes? What about the hard work that I’ve done? Does that not count?
What do I do with my privilege?!
After countless days of pondering over this subject, I realized there is only one thing I can do: pay it forward.
Sympathy and pity won’t help those with less than me but my knowledge, experience, connections, and abundance can.
Pay it forward. Help. That’s what I can do.
P.S. it was just a coincidence that I decided to write this post on Giving Tuesday 🙂