If like me, you grew up with substantial privilege, you don’t go around bragging about it, am I right? That would be in bad taste. It also wouldn’t reflect well on you that there was almost NO statistical chance — due to the conditions of your birth and nothing else — you’d end up poor, incarcerated, a high-school dropout or homeless.
We want to hear about people who overcame huge obstacles. Well, I don’t belong to that group.
Here’s my three-part confession:
- I have it all.
- I want more still.
- I deserve nothing.
I’m the product of a two-parent household that never struggled financially. I grew up in a lovely house with a vast backyard in the tropical city of Caracas, Venezuela. I was given everything.
Let’s start with education. My parents sent us kids to private schools and paid for piano, cuatro (similar to a ukulele), French, swimming and tennis lessons. They also paid for tutors when we needed extra help in math or what-have-you and sent us to programs in the US and Switzerland in summer. Naturally, my parents paid for my college education.
Beyond the educational, we were provided with wonderful entertainment and travel: the beach on weekends and local and overseas vacations.
I’m embarrassed to write this, but my parents paid for my first car and my house when I got married!
I know, I know. I was a spoiled little brat.
Guess what though? There’s more! As if all I’ve mentioned weren’t enough, my parents gave me another superlative gift.
Of all the lucky situations I was born into and grew up with, this is the most unique and enduring: my siblings.
Rosanna, Lole, yours truly, Bruno, Gabi, Sandra and Ana Maria.
My cool siblings explain why I always planned to have two children — as opposed to one. How so? Not only was the idea of an “only” child foreign to me, but it also felt wrong and selfish for my children not to know what having a brother or sister was like. I’m not sure the logic is sound, but there it is.
Moreover, not only did I get to have 6 siblings, but 5 of them are sisters born in a span of just 13 years. PLUS they (and Bruno!) happen to be some of my favorite people in the whole wide world too.
Because of them, I don’t need friends. Not that I’m friendless, but I’m convinced that my sisters explain why I have such few friends.
Yes indeed, I’ve had all the privileges in the world.
Statistically, the odds have always been firmly in my favor and they have played out largely as expected. I’m the rule.
This is not to say life hasn’t thrown curve balls my way though.
I came down with depression, literally, in my late teens. I say “came down” because that’s how it happens in my family, the predisposition being so strong some research team really ought to collect some blood from everyone in my family for a genetic study or something.
I had scoliosis and wore a horrid brace through high school. I was a terribly insecure teenager.
I went through a deeply painful break-up once. No visible scars exist, but the piercing wound in my heart at the time was real.
My city and country of birth went into freefall and everyone in my immediate family emigrated. I also have close relatives in Toronto, Mexico City, Rome, Geneva, Calgary, Madrid, Berlin, Sydney, Medellin, and various US states.
Most of us saw our incomes plummet. We’ve faced immigration woes and have needed to reinvent ourselves professionally.
As to my own children, I’d say things didn’t go as planned either. I guess they never do.
My older son is developmentally disabled, which for many years I saw as the greatest struggle and misfortune ever. (I no longer do.) My younger son suffered a serious head injury from which he fortunately recovered. The process was terrifying though.
You get the picture: despite all the privilege, I’ve also faced obstacles. Everyone does, even the British royals.
But I’ve had the incredible privilege of facing such obstacles with the best possible tools: a top-notch education, supportive parents, a wonderful spouse, good health, the best siblings, and some measure of financial stability.
Actually, I wouldn’t call anything I’ve faced obstacles. I’d call them life experiences. The fact that I was set at birth makes it possible for me to call them that.
No doubt about it, I’m a lucky gal.
Life has been good to me and I don’t deserve it.
Know what though? Had the fates frowned upon me, I wouldn’t deserve it either.