This should have been my first post here on Tiny Ambitions. And I say ‘should’ because it would have put into context everything I’ve written since then about minimalism, simple living, and tiny houses. However, it wasn’t until listening to recent episode of the Let It Be and Budget and Cents podcasts that I was able to clarify my thoughts on the controversial ‘p’ word.
P is for Privilege
This topic might make you uncomfortable and it might even offend you (but that is absolutely not my intent), but I’m going to have to deal with that. In fact, the topic actually makes me very uncomfortable too. And that is precisely why I wanted to write about privilege – my own privilege specifically.
It’s easy to look around my real and virtual life and find something lacking in it, in comparison to others. However, by virtue of a number of factors, most of which I had no control over, I have ended up with an immense amount of privilege, whether I want to acknowledge it or not.
By virtue of where I was born (Canada), my ethnicity (Caucasian), and my family (lower middle class), the trajectory of my life has been different than if even one of those factors had been different. What this all adds up to, is that my reality isn’t going to be everyone else’s reality.
What is my reality?
I’ve never had to worry about where my next meal is coming from or how I’m going to pay my rent. I have had my fair share of ‘starving student’ days, six years worth in fact. But, at the end of that six years I had not one, but two degrees to my name. I even managed to graduate with a small but not insurmountable amount of student debt ($20,000), because of grants, scholarships, summer jobs, and contributions from family. Some of these things I did have control over, but some I didn’t. And all of this has set me up differently than someone who didn’t have access to the same resources.
Of course, my understanding of my own privilege was not clear to me until recently. And it became crystal clear for two reasons.
a) I blog. Which means I have a certain amount of free time to spend how I wish. That time is a gift I know I’ve taken for granted in the past.
b) I literally blog about things I don’t want or need in my life. And I have the ability to make those kinds of choices.
That is what I understand privilege to be – the ability and opportunity to have and make choices in life.
I now recognize that a certain amount of privilege is part of my minimalist experience. Without it, Tiny Ambitions wouldn’t exist.
To paraphrase what Cait said during the above Budgets and Cents episode, how lucky am I to have stuff to get rid of in the first place? I have accumulated so many material possessions in my life that I can actually get rid of MOST of them and not feel any real hardship. If that’s not a privilege, I don’t know what is.
I’m not writing this post as a humble brag for how amazing my life is. In fact, compared to others, it might not seem amazing.
But that’s the point.
There will always be someone more and less privileged than myself. But recognizing my position in that hierarchy is important. How else can you draw attention to it and change it, if you don’t even know what ‘it’ is?
G is for Gratitude
I’m writing this post to express my heartfelt gratitude for everything I’ve had in my life up until now because I know so much of it had not a whole lot to do with me, but rather, with the luck of the draw.
Now, I absolutely believe that people can transform their lives (and many of the people reading this are evidence of that). But everyone has a different starting point that affects how their journey progresses and how smooth or bumpy that road is for them.
I can’t write this blog and pretend my current life situation is owed to only my own, direct actions because it hasn’t. That’s how I know my gratitude is important.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Honestly, I don’t know how to end this post. I wish I had a grand solution to make the world a better place, but I don’t (I sincerely wish I did). All I can do is try and contribute something positive to the world and the blogosphere I currently find myself in. All I can do is not take my life for granted because this life is not a privilege afforded to all.
Thanks for reading. I hope something here resonated with you.
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions