So I’ve been sitting on this one for a while and I feel it’s an important aspect of my journey to acknowledge. A lot of what I’m doing comes from a place of privilege. Not just the monetary type, but the societal. I have always been aware that I am pretty fucking lucky when it comes to the world I was born into and the experiences I’ve had. I’ve always had a lot of guilt around it. Pointless guilt but guilt none the less. Like, why do I get the advantages that many others don’t? I’m aware how unfair life can be to so many.
Don’t get me wrong. The shit has hit the fan for me many times. But still. Overall, I have privilege.
I grew up fairly middle class in a leafy suburb outside of Vancouver, Canada. I’m lucky to have grown up in a very culturally diverse area so had the pleasure of being surrounded by all kinds of experiences. I loved visiting friends’ houses and seeing how different families worked. I was aware from a young age that ‘family’ came in all shapes and sizes. I am grateful for that education. I now live in a country that isn’t quite as diverse as I was used to growing up. Our neighbourhood is a lot more ‘white’ than I experienced. I wish for my son the same experiences of variety that I had but it is what it is. You can only experience what you experience until you can make those choices for yourself and I am lucky to have had that beginning. While there were leafy parts to our suburb, there were also a lot of more deprived areas nearby. I knew I had more ‘stuff’ and experiences than some of my friends. From a young age, I was aware that my whiteness and my economic stability set me at an advantage. There was no racial comments or assumptions made about me and there was no question that I could experience the things and have the stuff. I felt a lot of guilt about that. I didn’t know what to do about it so I also felt a lot of shame. At times. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed most of my childhood and all the advantages I had. I just had some pretty conflicting feelings around a lot of it.
The areas I felt I was disadvantaged by, at times, were my size and my gender. The messages passed onto me as a child about my size were obvious. The stereotypes about how and what I could be as a girl were loud and clear. There was teasing, joking, ridicule, dismissiveness, shame. That being said, I wasn’t under constant attack about it, all the time. It was just something that was there.
I can’t imagine the constant barrage of hate or loathing some people get from our society, their neighbours, family members, government, places of worship, schools, etc. I can’t imagine it because it is not my reality. It never will be so I can’t claim to know what it is like. I can see some of it. I know empathise with some of it but I’ll never truly know. I can do my part to give people a safe space around me when appropriate and to learn the shit out of the issues that are important to different groups of people. I have also learned that it’s not my voice that is needed in many of these conversations but my willingness to listen. I will definitely get it wrong. I hate confrontation so I don’t always engage in important conversations within my own circle (ie calling out bias and hate), I don’t always know the right terminology for some of the stuff going on, I might use outdated language that is offensive to others. I will try my best not to but I will mess up. And I will apologise, learn and do better. I feel this is my duty as a human, to educate my self. As life goddess and top human Maya Angelou said,
‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’
It’s hard fucking work but we can do hard things (I learned this from love warrior, Glennon Doyle). We have to do hard things because for many their life experiences are hard all the damn time. We can at least try and allow for some safe spaces around us. We can try to understand other perspectives and experiences. It is a messy business but we can try.
I can acknowledge that I am able to take this journey and do this work for myself because I have advantages. I’m working on not feeling so guilty about this. Guilt is a useless waste of energy that could be directed towards doing better. I can see how doing the work I’m doing for myself is important so that I can give more time and energy towards other endeavours that might balance out some inequalities.
I have some thoughts. I have some ideas. I probably have too many thoughts and ideas and so fumble around trying to figure out which ones to focus on, cause…over-thinker. But I’m doing the thinking and the idea-ing. I am following some badass femmes from different walks of life with different experiences. I am learning to shine a light on some of my own privileged beliefs and I’m being kind on myself while I do. I can’t help what I was taught from a young age. But I can try and learn the truth for others. And what a gift it’s been.
I know a lot of people don’t like or trust social media. I get it. It can be a ripe old place. But, if you fill your feed up with empowered folk. Folk that question our norms in the most positive of ways, who present themselves in the most deliciously honest ways, that show up for others all while acknowledging their privilege, who speak up even though they are told to shut up. It’s a powerful tool. I’m finding Instagram particularly useful in this. And my wee brain is just a-going. Like a million miles an hour. I need many breaks because it can be hard too. Powerful, uplifting but hard. There’s so much work to be done but there’ so much going on already. If you are curious about who to follow, just take a gander at my following list on Facebook or Instagram. There is a lot of good stuff out there to start with.
As a mumma, it’s important for me to allow TD to see that the world is brutal and beautiful and full of wonderful things but also full of things are that aren’t so wonderful. That the world isn’t fair for everyone and that some people are born on the right side of that fairness. That he is a lucky one and that comes with responsibilities. That we all have a job to do to try and make things more fair. That we all have a lot to learn about each other. That we’ll get things wrong and we will hurt people even when we don’t mean to but we can make things better too.
So, I am acknowledging my privilege that allows me to live the life I live and to do ‘the work’ I’m doing for myself. I acknowledge that I am a lucky one in many ways. I am grateful for this and I am humbled. I’m working on losing the guilt so I can make the most of my experiences. I acknowledge that I have a shit ton left to learn, like a lifetime worth. And I’m trying. I’m really, really trying to be a good all round human. We can only try.