“You’re one to talk, you work in a multinational company and you have a really high salary! You are privileged!” I don’t know if it was my woman nature, my metastasized imposter syndrome or the surprise of the interaction that my first reaction to this was shame: “I do have such privilege!”
One of the unanticipated reactions to my announcement of leaving my job of over two decades were people who seemed to envy my actions “I wish I could leave, but I don’t have your means.” Incoming wave of shame and guilt. And then, right before I apologized for having had money to save and an amazing partner who supports me every step of the way, I started to actually listen to what I was told and truly process. And the Universe, in the form of social media helped – this was the post that struck:
I have always marveled at the powers that be that had me born white, in a country where I can marry whomever I choose and divorce when I have had enough, where I can have a career, be gay without being imprisoned or shot, in a family which had enough to put on the table so that I could go to school and get a good education. I feel truly privileged to have had people care enough about me to let me know there is a job that I would be good at, resulting in a 21 years successful career. It is utter privilege that I was one of the many desperate fertility treatments patients that was successful in the end and is now the mother of an amazing young man. It is a privilege that my partner loved me, the way that I am and that in this lifetime I get to live love requited. It is a privilege that the country I live in was important enough geopolitically that it is now protected and Russians are not bombing us as well. And this just scratches the surface.
But while being born where I have is a privilege, choosing to go to school, spend 16 years there and not in bars, read, take exams, look for jobs and stick with one are choices.
While being healthy is an immense privilege, choosing not to drink and do drugs, not to eat my weight in carbs (as I often would if I just didn’t care), seeing doctors to check on myself regularly and making sure I sleep, slow down and breathe are choices.
While living in the same lifetime as my soulmate is an unbelievable privilege, putting myself through pain and the unknown and fear and emotional risk to be with her, against all odds, standards and “what people say” are choices.
While being told about a good job or finding out about it is a privilege, showing up and working hard every day, giving it my best, saving money or spending it wisely on things that truly count are choices. And it is a choice to leave this job now when it is no longer tickling my soul.
While being the mother of the most beautiful person in the world is a privilege I still have a hard time believing, raising him with values, having the right kind of conflicts, doing life honestly in front of him and showing myself to him as I am are choices.
Life is about choices is one of my partner’s favorite phrases. It pisses me off so bad. Because it is true. I am not sure what the end will be like – there are so many theories. My theory is that, at some point, if we aren’t asked this, we will ask this of ourselves: have I made the most of what I have been given? I am trying to live my life daily so that this answer is yes. It is that simple and that incredibly hard.