Feeling Down, Down, Down

I know it’s been a few days since I’ve posted, and to be honest it’s because I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions and just generally feeling like a jerk-wad.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still excited about my new home, and all the changes in store for me, and I still have a lot of hope for myself and my situation–but I’ve been sort of wallowing in the bad feelings I get when I think about how blind I’ve been.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never really taken an honest look at my “station” in life, or considered with any depth that I come from a place of privilege–that everything I write and assume comes from the fact that I’ve been privileged.  I find it even more embarrassing to admit that in college (at my small, private, liberal arts school)  I’d often look at others around me as being more privileged than I was, thus considering myself as someone with “less.”  Granted, I indeed was surrounded by some people who may have come from higher-class families, but how could I have been so blind to all that I had available to me?  How could I have not seen and felt lucky and grateful for the privileges I took for granted?

I worked hard in school.  I worked hard in all the jobs I’ve had.  I’ve worked hard in my relationships.  But I never stopped to think, to really consider and understand, that there are so many others who didn’t have the opportunity to go to school.  Who don’t have jobs.  Who don’t have family or friends to rely on for support.  For help.  I’ve not wanted to see that.  But now I am.  Blinders are off, folks.  There’s no turning back.

The problem is, I feel so stunned and upset with myself that I’m unsure how to move forward.  I worry that when I write, those privileged assumptions will still be in place.  I worry that the next thing I write will come out wrong.

So, give me some time.  Don’t lose faith in me yet.  I’m hoping to come out on the other side of this as better human being.

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About Cathy G Gilbert

I am veggie-loving, community college professor who lives, teaches, and writes in Central IL.
This entry was posted in Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Feeling Down, Down, Down

  1. Molly M M says:

    I really, really love this blog. I think you are incredibly brave for digging deep to find these conflicts within you, and even braver for putting them out there for yourself (and others) to really see. As a social work grad student, I think about privilege quite a bit. But I wouldn’t say I’ve truly had the experience to evaluate my own privilege (I mean, beyond academically thinking about it–REALLY sensing my privilege) and how it shapes everything in my life, everything I think and feel. I admire you for doing that, and I hope someday, I’ll be able to do that, too, in a very concrete way.

    • Thanks for the kind words! I can definitely use the encouragement 🙂 For a couple days there, I thought about quitting the blog altogether, but doing so would make it easier to back away from the reflecting I need to do. So I’m going to keep it up. And hope that others can learn something too.

  2. Renee S says:

    What you’re doing is great CG! It does seem you’ve been feeling–and writing–“down” recently. About that: the learning and growth you seek logically comes from experience *and* reflection. You’re unquestionably a wonderful person, and not only brave as Molly M said, but wise to recognize the new understanding and knowledge that you can gain from this adventure.

    That said, give yourself a break when you criticize your own thoughts and the writing that comes from them. Might a few observations sound “privileged” and as if you’re passing judgment? Yes–but let’s not kid ourselves, we all judge. The difference here is your willingness to actively reflect upon that judgment. Without this reflection, without your more or less honest reporting in a medium to which you feel responsive (writing), the growth can’t happen anyway. So why apologize so much for your thoughts and observations? Why beat yourself up even as you are engaging in the reflective act? You will still *think* these things anyway. *Not* including these encounters with your “other” (let’s be academic: the taboo semiotic image) is perhaps more judgmental and certainly less honest. What would your post about the yard sale have been like if you intentionally avoided a (possibly judgmental) description of your upstanding, gap-toothed neighbor? Worse than flat, it would have been false and unresponsive to your desire for reflection.

    No more “sorry” CG! Keep going.

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