Gratefulness & Guilt

Caroline Fernandes is a 4th year Psychobiology Major and the Director of Partnerships for GlobeMed at UCLA.
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How many times a day do you think about how lucky you are? Maybe the thought crosses your mind when you’re having a really good day—you ace that biochem midterm, you finally talked to that cute boy in math class (“It’s October 3rd”), you got some free Chipotle. But what about on your worst days? When everything seems to be going wrong and you have no idea why you deserve such misfortune…

Maybe this is an intuitive statement, but I think it’s all about perspective. You can’t control someone making a mean comment towards you, you can’t control the questions your professor puts on your next test, you can’t control the bad weather, or whether that cute boy likes you, but you can control the way you see the situation you are in and the attitude you choose to have each day.

In reality we are all ridiculously lucky—we go to an amazing school, we have great friends, B-plate, pictures of young Justin Truedau (lol), food to eat, etc. Of course, life isn’t perfect and maybe some of the things I listed don’t apply to you (hopefully not young JT), but if you’re reading this you have wifi and in that case you should be grateful about that.

A few weeks ago we discussed different privileges that for many of us, go unnoticed. I felt a slight pang of guilt that isn’t that uncommon for me to feel. Sometimes I catch myself feeling angry when things in my life don’t go as planned and I feel embarrassed for even feeling that way when I have so much to be thankful for. It feels deeply unfair that I have so much when there are so many communities struggling to attain life’s basic necessities like food, water, shelter, education, etc.

In conversation with my friend a few weeks ago she was discussing how she was passionate about helping people because their freedom is deeply tied to ours. At first I didn’t understand what she meant by this statement, but as I thought about it I completely agree: how can we fully enjoy our privileges when there are so many people that have none? This idea weighs on my conscience sometimes. Although turning a blind eye makes you part of the problem, simply recognizing your blessings doesn’t make you part of the solution. Just simply educating yourself and being self-aware isn’t enough. I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in the solution…

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