On Being Thankful: Privilege, Luck, and Hard Work

Look how privileged this turkey is.

What are you thankful for? It’s a question that you will undoubtedly be asked in the coming days if you live in the United States, for Thanksgiving is upon us. I will eat too much food and watch more football than I need to. But this year especially, I have thought extra hard about what I am truly thankful for.

Has anyone ever attributed “luck” to your successes? It has happened to me. I’m “lucky” that I was able to find such a good job. I’m “lucky” that I am healthy. And admittedly, this has always left a sour taste in my mouth. I have a good job because I worked hard and apply myself. I’m healthy because I’m incredibly active and maintain a smart diet. “It’s not luck,” I would say, “I worked hard for this life!”

Spoiler alert: I am a middle class white man from a middle class white family. That makes me one of the most privileged people in the world. And that is something I have become more and more aware of recently.

Have I worked hard? You bet. But I also recognize that others have to work a lot harder simply because they look different. I have been afforded countless privileges that others have not. Most of these were invisible to me, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real.

To be clear, I am lucky. Lucky that I haven’t had to deal with bigotry of my lifestyle. That I don’t have to be concerned about walking alone at night. That no one has ever used a racial slur towards me. This isn’t because I work hard. This is because I am lucky.

I’m not saying I am thankful for white privilege, because that is something that shouldn’t exist. I am saying that when I think of the things I am thankful for, I recognize that many of these things came easier to me than others. Yes, hard work and determination was involved, but so was privilege and luck.

I am thankful that I have a loving and caring family. I am thankful that I have a good job and have a pretty nice roof over my head. I get to write about nerdy things and I am thankful for you reading it. My wife, hell, I could write a novel about how thankful I am for her. And for the most part, these things were offered to me on a silver platter. I just had to grab them.

This year, wherever you are for Thanksgiving, take a moment to think about what you are thankful for. Appreciate the life you have. Take a moment to reflect on how you achieved the life you have. Recognize how lucky you are.

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