I moved around a lot growing up. I was born in Kentucky, then we moved to Ohio for a few years, until we finally settled here in Pittsburgh when I was about ten years old. We made one final move about four years ago when my sister, mom, and I relocated about ten minutes away from one Pittsburgh suburb to another. This time was different from all of our other moves, however. Our first house here in Pittsburgh was in a neighborhood full of extremely well-to-do families who all mainly fit one big stereotype: dad worked a 9:00-5:00 for a lot of money, mom stayed at home, and they had a neatly trimmed yard where their two kids played behind a white picket fence (maybe with a dog or two.) The houses were varying degrees of immaculate, their car(s) in the driveway received as much attention and upkeep as their children... I think you get my picture.
Well, now we live in a neighborhood that suits our situation (and personalities) much better. The three of us live in a neighborhood of apartments and townhouses. The stories and livelihoods in this neighborhood are as varied and interesting as the people who live here: apartments that contain multiple generations under one roof, single moms and dads with kids, widows, immigrants-- I could go on and on. No one here is living the exact same life. People work all hours of the day and night (sometimes at multiple jobs.) We all joke about different things we have to fix (by ourselves) in our houses or how tired we are from working weird hours-- topics that were not as relateable for some of my former neighbors. And guess what? I'm a lot happier here, with people like my family.
Obviously, there are people in our nation whose experiences are ten times more difficult and trying than mine, and my own life changes just made me more aware of this. I have also had the privilege of working with students and campers who come from low socioeconomic situations, bad family lives-- basically, life has tried to knock them down over and over again. "Downsizing" in my own life has made me more attuned to what the children I work with (and other people I meet) who are truly struggling in life have to face in this world.
I was hit in the feels by something so stupid the other day: HGTV. Property Brothers was on, and this couple was trying to decipher which house they wanted to move into with their million dollar-plus budget. They were complaining about the craziest things: the lack of crown moulding (what even IS that), the "lack of charm" of the windows in the dining room, the size of the porch or the refrigerator, the ceilings in the kitchen... I could keep going, but I think I'm nauseous.
What was my point with that? I live in a pretty nice, working-class neighborhood, and I was astounded that people in this world actually debate whether or not they want to move into a house because it does or does not (I didn't actually understand what was preferable) have crown moulding in the dining room!!! And then, I thought about some of the kids and families I know from working in education. I know a bunch of families below the poverty line who would not give one shit about how "charming" their freaking windows are-- they would just like to be able to get a house paid for by their own incomes alone without relying on the government. They would like to be able to give their children a stable source of food and clothing.
But see, not everyone cares about that sort of thing. Unless you have seen it, unless you can relate struggle to REAL people you know and love, then it might not matter to you. All I'm asking is that our world begin to show some sensitivity to those around them. Because, when your life is different, your whole world looks different.