On luck and privilege

Photo by Luca Micheli on Unsplash

Somebody asked me once, “Do you think you deserve every good thing that you have?”

My quick answer was, “No, I do not.”

At the risk of sounding a humblebrag or someone compliment-fishing, I honestly do not think I completely deserve them, that I could simply credit them to my talents or abilities.

Everything that I have was partly a byproduct of two things: luck and, at the risk sounding like a woke-kininam, privilege.

I landed great opportunities not because I am more intelligent or talented or just better than others, hence, entitling me of the bragging rights to say I deserve them. I got them because they were there before me, at the right place, and at the right time.

Most of the factors contributing to my — erm — “successes” were outside the bounds of my control. I got admitted to a prestigious master’s degree program (totally unrelated to my bachelor’s degree) at UP not because I was brilliant, it was because I was asked the right questions during the essay exam and panel interview conducted by the right people.

I didn’t get the jobs I applied for because I was the best person for them, it was because the interviewers subjectively deemed me as the best candidate relative to the few ones who also applied for them. (Also, I have a charming, awkward smile that can annoy every HR into hiring me. Hahahahahaha).

My relatively privileged upbringing was also a catalyst for the subsequent set of opportunities that came my way. It was due to my middle class background that I was allowed to go to the “best” schools within our reach, getting a quality of education not available to many of my “kalaro” in our neighborhood.

And in many cases, I even noticed how I was favored, by a teacher, a classmate, a colleague, a canteen vendor, due to their reinforced notion and image of me: an ex-politician’s son, the grandchild of a well-connected couple, a UP graduate and therefore essentially spotless, a writer kuno with a pretentious vocabulary at his disposal. (A cutie, charot. Hahaha.)

The truth is, many things I have, I didn’t work that hard for. Some were handed to me simply because I write these superfluously worded essays, or because I sucked someone’s cock (charot haha).

This self-doubt occasionally renders me insecure. At work, I get envious of people who have inherent attention to details, who are good at small talk and networking; people who can assertively give instructions without stressing about coming across as ‘bossy’, people who are not people-pleasers, like me.

I think that most of the time, we tend to forget how big a role luck and privilege play in our lives. We put so much effort in controlling our destinies that we find it rather insulting to think that our successes and triumphs all boil down to these two things outside our command.

Well, that’s how the world works, whether or not it breaks your ego.

But here’s the thing: I wouldn’t totally discredit myself for whatever accomplishment I’d had. I noticed that in moments of personal breakthroughs, there’s one thing that allowed me to get them: I just did what I had and wanted to do.

That’s it. I simply focused on the process regardless the outcome.

I did not kill myself over a single failure. And while I’d occasionally sulk in my room over a loss of confidence, I would still peel myself off of my bed to get things going.

My point here is clear. To borrow the words from that terrible Hollywood remake of a Korean film, My Sassy Girl: “Even when destiny really wants to accomplish something, it can’t do it alone. You still have to show up. Destiny is the bridge you build to the one you love.”

In this context, destiny is the bridge we build to whatever goal we have.

I passed exams because I studied. I got the job because I showed up in the job interview. (I met my boyfriend because I followed him on Twitter. Charot. Hahahaha.) I got the D because I asked for the D. Hahahaha.

While luck and privilege do influence the outcomes of our endeavour, without our deliberate action, dreams and goals are all they’ll ever be.

Having said that, I also believe that unreflective action is as bad as no action. But the topic would require a separate post and I’m now in dire need to masturbate.

Till next time.





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Jan Writer

Jan Writer


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