I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege since returning from India. It is something a lot of my peers grapple with as we return after a long spell away from home. It was on my mind quite a bit before I came back, but I sincerely thought it would fade over time. I also wanted to write about it, but wasn’t sure how to express it without sounding ungrateful or like I had “too” much.

Many would argue that someone in my position isn’t privileged while many would say I am. The moment I created a daily practice of acknowledging all of the things I am grateful for in my life was the moment I acknowledged my privilege.

To me privilege goes way beyond someone being in say, an “elite” economic status. To me, it means the unique position I am in as the daughter of immigrants or my birth lottery. In addition, it means my access to education, job opportunities, professional networks, and the good I eat everyday. What propelled me to write this post was this article. What furthered it was the constant talk of what forms of race and gender “privilege” exist in America today.

The privilege I’ve been struggling has to do with the basic stuff we as Americans don’t think about so much:

The first week I returned I was amazed waking up in my bedroom each morning. I turned on my sink and there was water flowing in the temperature I chose. I took a shower for as long as I liked because the water wouldn’t run out. I would step outside for my daily yoga routine and found the sun shining bright. I looked up and saw white fluffy clouds and clear blue skies. What got me even more? The fresh air. I took a deep breath and didn’t smell anything. Pure air. Looking out into our backyard I saw lush green grass and forest green everywhere I looked.

My mom would have the fridge stocked with fruits and vegetables. She would be cooking lunch with the organic vegetables she picked from the garden behind our home. I walked into grocery stores, passed shopping malls, filled the gas in my tank, and drove on smooth roads. I walked the space within my house.

After the first week or two I thought it would fade. It always did and you would think it would after spending most of my life going back and forth between India and the US, spending time in villages, and traveling in countries where there is little infrastructure.

This time it hasn’t faded. Three months later and I’m still amazed.

In saying all this, it wasn’t that I was living without these amenities or many of the things I described above in India or while I was traveling. They definitely were accessible, but what continues to astound me is how easy and common they are for most of the people I interact with on a day to day basis here in the U.S.

So, as silly as it sounds I’m still struggling with all of this after all these months. While I’ve jumped into the issues that we are overwhelmed with in our current political and social climate, I’m still grappling with my personal privilege as it relates to having basic necessities. Maybe because 2 billion souls around the world do not have access and it’s still something I think about while I take a nice hot shower each morning.

So be grateful, people. But don’t stop there. Practice it. Embody it. Live it.


Rina PatelComment