Privilege In New Places

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I’ve been thinking about privilege again. I spend a lot of time thinking about power and privilege and what is used against me and what I use against others, knowingly or unknowingly. I’m trying to become more aware, I’m trying to become more present. I want to know the power I have so I’m not using it as a club, so I’m not judging or waving it around unfairly. Sometimes I realize new places that it’s coming from and then I have to think about it for a while. This week I’ve been thinking about something new.

I get frustrated with people for not pushing harder, for not questioning the reality they live in. I don’t understand how they can be satisfied with the status quo, why they are not only content to stay comfortable but will actively fight to keep someone from challenging them. It took me years to fight my way out of confusion and abuse and the constant lies I was told and I cannot understand why other people don’t seem to try harder. What I’m trying to remember is that I really don’t know what allowed me to do that. I have no idea what has driven me for almost as long as I can remember to push forward, to try and figure out why things felt wrong. For most of that time it got me in trouble, for a huge part of that time it caused me a tremendous amount of pain. And yet for some reason I believed, deeply and with all my heart, that the only way to cope was to question all of this, I believed that that what was happening to me and around me was somehow wrong. I kept picking and picking at everything, kept bringing things up, kept tearing at the fabric of all of it. I could not let it go. As far as I can tell, no one else in my family has this drive. My brothers have started to move forward on some of this but I don’t know if it was partly my pushing that led them in this direction. My parents, their families, everyone seems happy to believe in what they were raised to believe. I don’t know why I wasn’t.

This is a privilege. After all, I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t earn it and yet I would not be where I am today, happier than I have ever been and working towards the future I want, without it. That’s not to say I didn’t work, that’s not to say it wasn’t incredibly hard. That’s the funny thing about privilege. It doesn’t mean you didn’t work for something, it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. But it does mean that you may have gotten a leg up that someone else didn’t have. This drive shaped my worldview, ultimately it changed everything for me. But not everyone has it. People get to where they’re going in a lot of different ways. It’s not my job to tell them (or think quietly to myself) that they should be doing it a different way. Not everyone got what I got, just like there’s a lot that I didn’t get. We get to play to our strengths if we’re lucky. I’ve been so lucky. I just want to make sure I don’t take it for granted.

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