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Privileged little shit


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This post was written by the All Men Are Liars intern Marlo Begsley*.

Confession: I'm a privileged little shit; I'm the kid you see driving around Mosman in a BMW, the kid you judge for being incredibly spoilt, for not appreciating his yearly trips to Aspen or Vail.

I caught cabs to school because I hate the bus. I'm pasty white because I haven't spent a summer in Sydney in the past decade, instead skiing in North America.

Some say I'm spoilt but, like everything in life, it's relative. When your parents make seven figures a year, $20 a day for lunch doesn't seem like an unreasonable expense.

If those first few sentences pissed you off, don't worry: I get it a lot.

This is because as a society we judge people, sometimes unfairly, by their wealth. We make snap verdicts based on bank accounts, trust funds and share portfolios or, indeed, the lack thereof.

Australians are placing an increasing importance on private schools, exclusive suburbs and money; they want it for themselves and their children, yet they judge others - like me - for our parents' success.

Is it a jealousy thing? I'd love to know. Or does society believe I am wasting the opportunities given to me?

I don't believe that I am.

On my first day of uni I decided I wouldn't tell people what school I went to, or what suburb I'm from, out of fear of being judged. I'm by no means ashamed of my parents' hard work and luck, but I was not prepared to deal with the inevitable assumptions about who I am and what I believe in.

However, after about 30 seconds I thought: "F--- it, we all get judged for something. Who gives a shit if they're going to criticise me for my family's assumed wealth?"

I am proud of what my parents have achieved and the phenomenal experiences this success has afforded me. I am completely aware of the privilege that I have come from, but then, so should you be.

Just by having access to a computer connected to the internet, you're part of the richest 30 per cent of humans on the planet.

That coffee you bought today means you're richer than 1.4 billion people who live off only $1.25 a day.

However, this post isn't about being privileged in relative terms; it's about being in that 1 per cent that has caused so much drama of late.

When I read that nightclub tsar and fellow one-percenter, Justin Hemmes, said he hates it that people think he hasn't worked hard to get where he is, because he comes from money, I was incredibly annoyed.

Anyone whose family is wealthy knows that it makes life easier. I wonder if he would have received that initial loan if not for his parents' millions.

This notion has often been reinforced to my peers and me. My school's chaplain told us never to be ashamed of our wealth, but that we have an obligation to give back in as many ways as possible, something I try to do.

However, though my peers were made aware of their privilege during our school years, rarely do I think they fully comprehended their 1 per cent status.

After speaking to a friend about this recently, we agreed that, at our age, you only realise how truly lucky you are if you have been through some sort of hardship. An Indian proverb illustrates this perfectly: "I had no shoes and complained, until I met a man who had no feet."

Your "hardship" puts things into perspective, and only then do you grasp how fortunate you are.

If your biggest worry for the day is what to eat, and not whether you can eat, then most of your days should be happy ones.

I constantly remind myself of this, of how infinitely lucky I am to be such a privileged little shit - even if it means someone judges me occasionally.

As my dad once said to me: "Privilege is a privilege, don't waste it."

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how I'll not to waste it; I'm just adamant I won't. 

All I want to do is be a stay-at-home father who churns out a John Hughes-esque film script every couple of years that Hollywood buys for a cheeky five mil, but that's completely unrealistic.

I want my children to lead the life I have, to have the opportunities and experiences at 19 that most people don't get in a lifetime - and, to do that, I'll also probably have to acknowledge I'm never going to be John Hughes.

That sucks.

Being a privileged little shit, there is an unspoken pressure to succeed, to be the best, to do better than your parents and provide wondrously for one's family.

I'd love to do that as a script writer but, whatever happens, I know I will work hard.

Still, I'm only 19 and at uni; I do have a little bludging left to do.

*Marlo Begsley is a real person, 19 years old and studying communications at university. This is not his real name.

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