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privileged meaning

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Look, I grew up privileged. Okay? I’m ready for the figurative rocks to be thrown. I do fear that the word “privileged” has become interchangeable with “Snooty,” “Entitled,” or even “As*#ole.” But being snooty, behaving entitled, and being an as*&ole are things people choose to be. Being privileged is not something someone chooses to be. It is something someone just is. Just like one’s sexuality or skin color, someone cannot choose whether or not they’re privileged. And yet, sometimes it feels like society judges privileged individuals as if they did somehow make themselves privileged and as if they think they’re better than others for it. My parents had money, yes. But today, I live in a rent-controlled apartment and shop at thrift stores. My upbringing, of course, influenced who I am, but not in the ways people often assume. Here are things people assume about you, if you grew up privileged.


You think you’re better than others

I in no way think that I am better at all than those who grew up without the things I had as a kid. I know that there is a lot of different types of knowledge to be learned in this life, and it doesn’t all come from expensive tutors. I even know that my privilege my have unfortunately, unintentionally kept me from some knowledge and wisdom that those who grew up with less than I did do have. How could I think that something I didn’t do or choose makes me better than anyone?


You don’t appreciate what you have

I very much so appreciate what I have. In fact, perhaps when I was young I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to have five bedrooms and a housekeeper, but once I did realize how abnormal that was and how highly unlikely it is that I’ll ever have the income for such a life, I became extra appreciative of what I do have. Every day, I feel grateful that I have an apartment and a full refrigerator. I don’t resent not having a mansion. I’m grateful for what I do have.


You’re above hard work

I really respect my parents and what they built for themselves. And I know that it came from hard work. My dad grew up with nothing. He started working when he was 11 years old and built in empire. He didn’t have an inheritance. He is a self-made man and really showed me the value of hard work. I aspire to be like him.


Your parents still pay for you

When I tell people that I have wealthy parents they assume that I am wealthy. I am not. My parents do not pay one cent of my bills. I pay them all on my own. That is why I must live in a run-down, rent-controlled apartment and stay in motels when I travel. And, for the record, even if my parents offered to pay for me, I wouldn’t want them to. I value my independence, and not being a financial burden on anyone.


You only have privileged friends

I don’t. I actually have two friends who are ex-convicts and had very rough upbringings. I have friends who are on food stamps. I have friends with five roommates. And, yes, I also have some privileged friends. To me, all that matters is the company—the essence of the human. I don’t care what we do or where we go, so I’ve had the freedom to befriend anyone I love.


You take pity on those who didn’t

I don’t feel bad for those who didn’t grow up privileged unless they ask me to. What I mean is, I don’t make the assumption that anyone who didn’t grow up privileged resents it. I don’t make assumptions about how anyone feels about their childhood. I know individuals who grew up with little, and that was a big influence on who they are today—and they love who they are. Their upbringing made them strong. I also have friends who grew up with nothing, and who do feel some sadness about that. If they express that, I do feel sad with them, but because they shared their feelings with me. Not because I projected something onto them.


You’re sensitive and easily shocked

Just because I grew up going to a tiny, private high school in a gated community doesn’t mean I’m fragile and don’t know about the grotesque underbelly of the world. If anything, sometimes the extremely wealthy are some of the most dangerous and disgusting humans of all. I did witness some nasty things—they just happened in large estates.


You only eat at fancy places

I actually explicitly dislike fancy restaurants. Food is one thing that I just don’t think should ever be that expensive. No matter what someone does with it, the value of one dish just can’t be 40 times the value of another. It’s chicken. Come on. On principal, my partner and I don’t eat anywhere where entrees are over $25. And we stick mostly to the mom and pop spots we like where entrees are more like $12.95.


You only wear fancy clothes

I also think spending a lot on clothes is silly. At the end of the day, denim is denim is denim no matter what label is on it. I actually get the most thrills out of the hunt for a bargain. I don’t like to find good clothes the easy way, by throwing money at the task. I like finding gems on dollar Tuesday at a thrift store.


You can’t have silly/dumb conversations

Those are my favorite types of conversations! In fact, being at dinner parties where people start talking about equity and property values makes me want to gag. I want to talk about a YouTube video I saw of goats wearing pajama pants. It kills me.


You want to be like your parents

My aim in life is not to have nice things. If that were my only aim, I’d just get on one of those Sugar Daddy sites right now and find a wealthy husband like my mom wants me to. My aim is to do what I love, with the people I love. Whatever wealth that brings me, fine. Including if it’s not much.


You’re blind to real world problems

Here’s what I’ll say to that: I would never dare declare that I fully comprehend the horrors that go on in this world. But…can anyone? I try to stay informed. I also try to do my part when I can. But I don’t believe any one group—wealthy or poor—is, for example, completely aware of the terrors of things like child labor or sex trafficking. We know these things exist, but the only ones who know the true horror of it are the victims. As for the rest of us who just read about it or hear about it on the news, we’re all equally removed, regardless of our income.


You’d rather donate money than get your hands dirty

My partner and I regularly pack lunches that we bring to tent cities in our neighborhood. I don’t say it to toot our horns but rather to point out that we don’t just link a credit card to some recurring donation somewhere.


You feel entitled

I don’t feel entitled to anything. I often see people get the things that I want and I understand that it’s because they probably deserved it more than I did. And even if they didn’t work as hard for it or aren’t as qualified, I know that I don’t really know the whole story all of the time.


Your life has been perfect and easy

In some ways, yes, my life has been easy. I’ve been fortunate not to worry about having a roof over my head or food on the table (though, in my first few years as a working professional without mom and dad’s help, it was a fear sometimes!). But to think that just because a person hasn’t wanted financially means they’ve never experienced pain is to be quite ignorant.

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