The feature of entitlement is one so surreptitious, but also commonplace nowadays. It is not exactly narcissistic nor patronizing, but something more intricate, difficult to recognize. Entitlement, like other deep-seated qualities, often goes unnoticed as it has become so habitual and almost necessary in society. The awareness I have cultivated for this particular feature, whether it be in my peers, or even adults in my life, has made me understand how entitlement can manifest itself in every part of a person’s personality and how necessary it is to recognize my own entitlement so that I can release the one thing I condemn so much.
Firstly, it is paramount to simply grasp the concept of entitlement while correlating it to the one factor it is anchored to– privilege. Privilege is, in theory, a wonderful thing to have. It should be something to treasure and find gratitude in. I am so lucky to have been given the items and opportunities I currently possess and every day I work to remind myself of them. Even during difficult situations, reflecting on all the positive things in my life helps me remain uplifted. The problem with privilege comes in not acknowledging it. All around me, I hear comments from people my age that concern me, comments which assume that the entire world exists to serve them, or that the entire world should look, think, and speak like they do. Again and again, it is this thought process that develops into racist, homophobic, or ableist sentiment. Their statements may not be obviously problematic, but fragments of this rhetoric can be seen in my generation and then, extend into further generations.
Something everyone needs to hear — myself, my friends, my peers, adults — is that you are entitled to nothing. Because of the privilege we either are born with or develop, the majority of people have come to adopt the attitude of self-entitlement. Most readers are probably picturing a specific person in their own life who exhibits evident attributes: acting like they deserve special treatment, feeling they deserve more than they have, assuming their needs should come before others, causing a scene when things don’t go their way, acting like a victim, or constantly looking for praise and admiration. In list form, they seem far too extensive for one person to emulate. But, this is a long-running index, and even if one exhibits just a few of them; they are still suffering from the disease of entitlement.
Talking to more people, I genuinely feel as though entitlement has become an epidemic. The doctor who feels it is his place to seduce the nurse, the kids who say they would “rather die” than be gay or poor or blind, the man who throws a fit and sends his steak back when it is cooked medium rare rather than medium. It is embarrassing. It is something I despise. And yet, sometimes, it is something I catch myself adopting. Even if it is not in significant ways, at times I will find myself cutting off a friend who is speaking or giving advice on things I do not know about. It is not a good color on anyone, and so I would like to share some ways we can work against entitlement in ourselves.
The first step is realizing that entitlement not only comes from privilege but also from insecurity. People who believe they are deserving of what they want, often are compensating for a fear of rejection or lack of support. They make up for what they don’t have by tricking themselves into thinking they do with obnoxious and elitist behavior. So, dig deep– what are you insecure about? Once you do that, the next step is to accept that you are not entitled to anything and that there are people out there who have much less than you, and are still much happier. The time tested saying is that money and materials do not buy happiness, being grateful for what you currently have will bring you so much more. Lastly, realize that your opinion is affected by factors like your age, gender, race, socio-economic status and so much more. Each individual has unique factors that will affect their viewpoints. Your thought process is not the only one out there, and if you stop to listen to the words of others, you may find that your mindset will change too.
“You didn’t make good choices, you had good choices.” -Mia Warren (Little Fires Everywhere)