The confusing thing about privilege is an ongoing series.
Part One discusses that Privilege is essentially the absence of unnecessary struggle which isn't fundamentally a problem, but the unequal distribution of privilege aligns with alarming social trends which are a problem.
Part Two discusses the difference between inherited and earned privilege, which in the comments I refined as being Respect vs Privilege.
Part Three discusses that privilege makes saying, "No" easier
Today's confusing thing about privilege is that other people's opinions matter even though they shouldn't.
The most commonly Facebooked Paradox
How many times have you seen this meme, or one of 90,000 other quotes to live by that tell you that other people's opinions don't matter? Be true to yourself you see broadcasted on Facebook to your 997 closest friends seeking affirmations in the form of likes and comments.
I'm actually not saying this is bad advice. In fact, I've written my own version of this oft-repeated advice right here. But I think such advice needs to be tempered by the reality that other people's opinions actually matter, and they might matter a lot.
In particular, if you were privileged, like me, you may have grown up with many people (parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and more) who despite your many flaws believed that you could become a successful, happy person, and they actually wanted that for you.
I took other people's opinions to heart and developed a worldview in which I believed that other people want me to be successful; likewise, I wanted them to be successful.
I think that other people's opinions of me (or my perception of those opinions) may be the single most important "privilege factor" in my life.
Why other people's opinions matter
I think it's fair to say that there is a causal link between beliefs and attitudes on actions and outcomes. The fact that I grew up in an environment that supported and encouraged success means that I never had to "undo" my beliefs about the world, I think is causally linked to my later success (ie- thanks for the encouragement mom and dad).
Without all this early encouragement, I would have had to fight an uphill battle to adopt a "success oriented" mindset. I would have had to seek out mentors, challenge myself to think differently, and possibly get rid of some bad habits. Instead, I had the advantage of gaining this mindset early on. I was surrounded by people who were successful themselves, and they were willing to share how their work ethic and mindset helped them to gain success.
I would also add, that nobody is strong enough to always have confidence in their ideas, and that the hard work is worth the payoff. By having "cheerleaders" who will encourage you through tough times rather than encouraging you to quit, you're way more likely to have success. I know that I have cheerleaders who will help me through rough times. If you're starting something with nobody to coach you through difficult times, it's going to be incredibly difficult to fight through problems that make you want to give up and watch netflix.
Why is this part of privilege confusing?
I find this part of privilege particularly confusing because on the one hand adopting this mindset costs zero dollars, and the payoff is enormous. On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to undo years of negative mindsets and beliefs without painful self introspection and hard work.
Additionally, having this mindset means that you're willing to do hard, painful work which is sort of considered the antithesis of privilege (where everything is handed to you on a platter). When you look at it from that perspective, is this attitude an attitude of privilege? I would argue it is, but it's not an attitude of entitlement.
What do you think?
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.