When You Can’t Stand Your Privilege

Because I have a sense of humor—and ten minutes to kill at the airport—I whip out my phone and take a quiz to determine just how privileged I am.

Because, as I sip San Pellegrino lemonade and queue for my first-class flight to Caicos Islands, I realize I have no idea.

This seems like a job for Buzzfeed.

And the results are: 68% privileged.

Buzzfeed said: “You’ve had a few struggles…”

I nearly choke on my crème-brûlée-flavored chewing gum. Really?

Maybe because I’m female and sort of Asian?

I consider myself to be uber-privileged. SO privileged that I actually feel insecure about it. I sometimes hide the fact that I live in my own apartment, drive my own car, and have a salaried job. I rarely buy myself new clothes even though I responsibly can.

I have shoes with holes in them to prove it.

Turns out, this ‘privilege-insecurity’ exists for good reason. One time, when my friend was telling me about her ex-boyfriend, she said:

“His parents paid for his college education. He never had to work for anything in his life.”

I bit my tongue. Have I never had to work for anything in my life? Is that what my friends who are less privileged think of people like me?

To be fair, I haven’t faced any hardship in life.

I don’t feel like I have. When I do feel sad or overwhelmed by a life obstacle, I internally slap my hand and think:

You should be grateful for what you have.

Gratitude never hurt anyone. But maybe there’s a more productive approach. One that doesn’t involve insecurity, guilt, and—God help us—a motive to seek out hardship to counterbalance your privilege.

Food2-brooke-lark.jpg

This past Tuesday, I visited a food pantry. There was a lot that moved me emotionally about being there. The elderly people who made me wonder if they had any relatives looking out for them. The number of families with young children in need of groceries.

But what was most humbling was seeing the volunteers who handed out food and helped people load up their cars under a merciless, Florida rainshower.

DanielsHope
Daniel’s Hope Food Pantry

I used to think that experiencing hardship yourself is the only way to connect with a person who’s also endured hardship. But when you live with a lot of privilege, you have an advantage to help those in need.

I look up to my parents who volunteered at a soup kitchen for Thanksgiving because they could. My beloved co-blogger, Savvy, who helps out at a soup run (read about that here).

The people who own Palate Coffee Brewery where I barista at—they devote so much time and energy into helping fight human trafficking.

My friends who, may not have the time, but they have the financial stability to donate to charities.

Privilege shouldn’t guilt you. It’s great if it reminds you to count your blessings. But my conviction is that it’s not enough to only know your privilege.

Privilege should motivate you. It should drive you to be a blessing to others. That, I think, puts a smile on God’s face.

-Rachel

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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