Sometimes, I find myself becoming complacent with what I have. We always yearn for more, no matter what we have. We always want more money, more food, more clothes, more cars, more things. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s wonderful having those things.
But sometimes, I’ll find myself buying something, or using an item, or doing an activity, and I’ll have a moment of grounding. I’ll think to myself, ‘Wow, you are so lucky to have the means to do this’. My life isn’t filled with expensive things, I’m in no position to start buying houses and cars and flashy jewellery, but I am in a better position than others.
I’ve been checking in with myself, when I’ve had a sudden moment of clarity, a moment when I’ve thought, ‘this is a privileged thing you’re doing, many wouldn’t be able to’. And I thought I’d share them with you. Because maybe you are feeling low. Perhaps there is something you are yearning for. And maybe you will also be able to tick a few of these on your list and it might make you feel a little happier.
1. The other day I wanted to watch Netflix upstairs, but my fiancé was watching it downstairs. Without a moment’s hesitation, I upgraded to two screens. It costs a few quid more, and a couple of years ago I would not have pressed that button, or I would have agonised over it for a while. It was a lovely little reminder that I am in a better position than I was just a few years ago.
2. Last month, I’d had my hair done, and a friend told me how nice it was. Later that day, at work, a black woman came into work who’d just had her hair done. A few of the staff went up to her and told her how pretty it looked, whilst touching her hair without asking her if that was okay. I realised, I have the privilege of getting my hair done and not having my personal space invaded without my permission.
3. I went for a night out with my girl pals. We overheard a group of boys saying that they had been refused entry at countless bars. We were given a table in the second bar we tried. There is a huge rhetoric around the privilege men have over women. But there are times when women actually have a little privilege over men (even if it is because of how we look), we ought to capitalise on the few times this happens!
4. In New Look last month, I was able to use my student discount to buy myself some clothes. As well as using my discount to obtain Amazon Prime for a much cheaper price. I spoke with a friend, who is in a worse financial situation than me and can't afford Amazon Prime, and realised how lucky I was to have money off things, when I actually don’t even need it.
5. When I travelled abroad last year, I wasn’t stopped once to be searched. No-one looked at me suspiciously. No-one stared too long at the name on my passport. I was treated with respect. My friend, with an Arabic surname, is stopped every time they go to the airport. They are searched and treated with suspicion, while the lady checking them in stares at the name on their passport.
6. Yesterday, I walked down the street, holding hands with my fiancé. It is a natural thing to do when we walk. A way of staying intimate with one another whilst in a public place. A way of knowing we will protect one another. That we are safe. No-one batted an eye, no-one looked at us as though we were naked, doing back flips down the street, the way the public often looks at my friend when she walks down the street holding hands with her girlfriend.
7. Sitting down today, to write this blogpost, I realised how lucky I am to be able to follow my dream of becoming a writer. To be able to dedicate most of my time to pursuing my aspirations. Every day, I remind myself that this has been my only wish, for years and years. And now I have it, I'm doing it, I'm living it. What a privilege, what an incredible place to be.
I am lucky. I am lucky to live in a world in which I have the freedom to walk around, mostly unnoticed. Yes, sometimes I have less privilege, because I am not rich. I don’t have a penis. I don’t come from royalty. I don’t fit in, and I get muddled when I try to talk to people. I am introverted and uncomfortable in social situations. Some people don’t have any of these problems.
But I can afford to eat what I want and get three takeaways a week, if I so wished. I can afford a membership to all the streaming sites I love and don’t struggle to find the money each week to make it through to the next pay-check. I can go most places without drawing much attention to myself. I am never treated with suspicion because of the colour of my skin and people rarely step within my personal space without my permission. I am able to show my partner affection in public without a second glance from people around us.
We all struggle, life is hard for everyone. I am starting to focus on the positive things in my life instead of the negative. I think that we can all extend a lot more empathy when we acknowledge the things we have.