Privileged and lucky vs self-made. Where do we draw the line?

20 July 2021


Daily life is too hurried to draw any lines. But if we stopped to think about privilege and hard/smart work the waters get muddy, quickly. To make an estimate, a reasonable way, though not flawless, would be to ask some tough questions.

Starting at 0, each question adding or removing points. If a question does not apply even remotely, add a 0. E.g. the best score is 100 points and the worst is -100. At the end of the test one person has 20 points, another has 60 and another has -40.

So, the person with a score of 60 lecturing the -40 on how he is where he is because he didn't work as hard/smart as he did is a little rude if not blatantly arrogant.

Forget about lecturing. It's stupid no matter the privilege score. It's helpful at least to not fool ourselves that we're better off than others because of our own doing. If pushing hard is your thing, push harder than David Goggins if you wish but stay humble. Understand or pretend, that the wiring of our brains are different. It makes relationships healthier.

Example questions:

  1. I was raised in foster home/orphanage
  2. I was raised by a single parent
  3. My parents often struggled financially
  4. Despite the struggles, my parents were emotionally stable
  5. I looked forward to spending time with my parents
  6. I was encouraged to stand up for what I believe even when talking with my parents
  7. My parents gave me good reasons for being grounded
  8. School was mostly positive emotions
  9. I was treated as an intelligent and thoughtful child
  10. Having excellent grades in school required little to no studying
  11. I've been fit and healthy for the most part
  12. I keep contact with people I've met during my younger years and it's a pleasure
  13. I was bullied at school
  14. I have contemplated suicide
  15. I have/had trouble speaking (e.g. stutter or similar)
  16. Learning in school, what took some an hour, took me twice or more
  17. I spent a lot of time overcoming deadly health issues (e.g. cancer)

Many problems with the questions above. E.g. I can very easily miss a a lot of specific ones, that do not fit under the above categories. E.g. a person scores 10 out of 10 on most questions and gets an overall score of 80+. Meanwhile if we added just a few of his struggles that didn't fit above, his score can quickly sink to the negative.

Nevertheless, I still think it's useful to try to think about the privilege issue.