As a white able-bodied person raised upper middle class, I of course live with a lot of access and privilege that I didn't earn.
I helped my friend get a car by cosigning his loan because I have good credit. I have good credit because my mom started a joint credit card with me when I was 18 and helped me build credit, and has never missed a payment. I have been able to get into apartments and houses based on having a good credit score, and have never run into hardship that has required me to screw it up.
I was able to go to college because I had a scholarship, but my parents paid for my living expenses, including rent so I wouldn't have to live on campus and so I wouldn't have to work while in school.
I don't feel like my work at my job is particularly grueling or difficult (though there are times when it's challenging, of course). I am paid beyond fairly and have access to medical insurance and other options. At my previous job, I racked up a bunch of stock and a good 401(k), and that was just a benefit of working there and kinda doing nothing while I waited for it to pile up.
And now I've just moved into a house that seems huge to me (almost 1500 square feet), with three bedrooms and a miscellaneous room, a garage, a kitchen, and a giant living room with an entryway. People keep asking me, with confusion, whether I'm really living in such a big place by myself. (Not even a dog??) Maybe I'm getting that reaction because, like most other aspects of my life, I have more than I need.
It isn't really fair. I watch other people struggle or not have access to the opportunities I do and I think there's really no reason I should always have a much easier life. Sometimes when I talk about this people reassure me that I work hard and deserve the opportunities I have, but even though I agree that I work hard, I have worked harder in the past for much less payoff. When I worked in retail I legit worked hard, and it was often physically demanding and emotionally/mentally challenging, and yet it paid like crap. I put up with that for a relatively short period of time--six years--but for many people, they don't get to just move on and move "up" like I did, and they continue having to work in retail or food service for most of their lives. It is very very hard. But if you don't have a certain background, people are less willing to give you a chance. I have this background and I absolutely did not earn it.
I'm not completely lazing around collecting a paycheck or living off family wealth or something, and yes I work for a living and sometimes it is very tiring, but so many people I know work so much harder and have so much less. I think there's a tendency in our society to assume that if we're doing well, it's because we did something right. Therefore, it's easier to assume that if poorer or worse-off people would just work harder or work smarter, they would be in as good of shape as we are.
Completely. Not. True.
I don't have enough wealth or resources to make a big difference in changing this, of course, but when my friends and family are struggling I've been able to help them here and there, and I have a list of seven charities that support causes I care about that I give to when I have extra (and I often have extra, but right now I'm strapped for cash because I just moved and there are a LOT of expenses associated with said move).
Looking at everything I have as I get settled in my new place, and looking at how I don't have to make a change in my lifestyle at all to make a $200 Target trip for things I want for my home but don't necessarily need, it's NICE to have those options but not nice at all that most people lack the resources I have. Sure, I'm only a medium-sized disaster away from having no money myself, but some people who have already suffered medium-sized or larger disasters or never had any resources to get them through those things are in desperate situations more often than not.
This ramble was just an attempt to reflect on never taking the fortunate circumstances of my life for granted.