A few years ago, I had an argument with my dad about privilege. I off-handedly mentioned how I was privileged to have what I have, and he got defensive about how he had worked for most of his life to get to where he is. Read that sentence again and tell me where the miscommunication happened.
I said I had privilege; he said he did not.
He thought I was meaning he didn't work for where he was and didn't deserve it. While he may have some privilege by being a white guy, he had to work hard to get where he is now. He started from the bottom, from three jobs to make ends meet, to well-off and not having to worry about counting pennies for peanut butter.
I, however, never worked for that. I was born into a middle-class family and never had to worry about where my next meal would come from or whether I would have clothing that properly fit me. Most of my life, my money has not been my own.
When I came to college at 18, I paid for nothing. My dorm, my tuition, my groceries, my gas—my parents paid for all of it.
I'm 21 now, and I still don't pay for my tuition. My parents still pay most of my rent. My utilities, my groceries, my gas, my entertainment, and my cats are all me, but the vast majority of the money I spend isn't. My parents can easily pay for everything, and I could ask them to do that forever, but I don't want them to.
I don't think anybody should.
I don't care if your parents' salaries combine to be seven digits a year—you should have your own source of income. You should work for what you get, even if they're still helping out. Because guess what? Your parents aren't always going to be around to take care of you.
People around you don't always have that privilege, either, so hearing about how all you did during the summer was travel, how it felt "so good" for your "soul" or whatever, is rubbing salt in the wounds for everyone else. Most people have to work for at least part of their summer, if not all of it, and everyone should have to experience that at some point.
I'm not saying everyone should have to start from the bottom. I don't think anyone should ever have to worry about if they'll get more than one meal today or if they can pay their next bill, but I do think people should have to work for something, even if it's not a necessity.
Nobody likes to hear this:
So just don't do it. Instead, get a job. If you can't (because we all know how hard it can be), ask your parents if there is any extra work you can do for them so that you earn what you use.
Don't be Mona-Lisa.
Use the privilege you were born with, but don't abuse it.