I was talking to one of my besties and telling her about my plan to put labels inside my cabinets. Yes, I know I’m crazy. I just can’t stand for things to get disorganized. It leads to clutter and there is enough clutter in my house. Between my husband, my daughter, the cleaning people, and myself nothing ever gets put back in the right spot. About then my friend says, “Talk about first world problems, the cleaning people don’t put things where they belong.” She said, “I bet you never thought you would be saying that in your life.” We chuckled because we both knew it was true.
I totally still have a plan to put labels in my cabinets, because not being able to find my favorite measuring spoons is making me kind of crazy. Yes, I do grasp EXACTLY how privileged I am. I am beyond grateful for my life. I have a beautiful home, I have a partner to share it with, I have an awesome daughter, and I have cleaning people who help me a couple times a month. I have a comfortable and wonderful life. I am PRIVILEGED.
Watch this video.
Based on what I’ve told you in this post about my life how many steps forward do you think I would take? Would you be surprised to know that high school aged me would NOT have stepped forward a single time? Yet, thanks to financial aid such as Pell grants, student loans, and work-study I was able to pay my way through college. My education got me out of poverty and led to jobs that help make my current life possible. Now, my daughter can actually step forward for just about every question.
I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t point out that I recognize this particular experiment just grazed the surface on privilege. It didn’t ask specific questions about race, gender, or religion. It also didn’t ask about disabilities, attractiveness, sexual orientation or geographical factors just to name a few. The fact is, the hierarchical web of privilege is complicated. Privilege is more complex than any of these social experiments can capture, but these games are still relevant in that they still demonstrate quite well that none of us start in the same place. No one factor determines our starting point. Regardless of where we start, no one factor determines our finish point in the game of life, either.
In life, we get to make choices that will either propel us forward or send us back. We get to decide if we are going to work hard or hardly work. We decide if we are going to settle for what is cast upon us or if we are going to strive for more. It’s all on us where we end up. It is also on us where the starting line for the next generation gets placed.
There is an activist named Wes Moore, that I highly suggest you research. One of the things he says is that we are not a product of our environment, we are a product of our expectations. In addition, he says that the expectations others give us help us have them for ourselves. I truly believe this to be the case.
Being around people who had expectations for themselves helped me have expectations for myself. Having people who talked about when we go to college versus if we went to college, helped me believe I would go to college. The people we surround ourselves with matter. The people we allow our children to surround themselves with matter. I was privileged to be around people who had expectations for themselves. I was privileged to be around people outside the home who had them for me as well.
What matters is what we believe about ourselves. If we believe we are capable, if we believe we are worthy, if we believe we can change our circumstances or do something great then we can. If we are willing to do the work, willing to dust ourselves off when we fail and try again, willing to never ever quit, then we will succeed.
We can not look to others to fix problems for us. We can not let our starting point be an excuse. We have to be accountable for ourselves. That is how we move forward and that is how we all get to live a life of privilege. That is how we all get to make it better for the next generations. Expectations plus the willingness to work and do hard things. That is how we make a difference and move forward.
We have to own our actions.
Until next time,