The role of privilege in shaping our realities

5 min read

One of the things that perspective gives us is the ability to have more data and study cases to compare and reflect on any situation. If we were to feel only one reality, it would become difficult to make any sort of analysis about other possibilities or even assess where we stand.

Coming from a small and conservative city, I recognize that it took me time, exposure, traveling, and experience to acknowledge my privileges. With privileges, I mean things that I took for granted and normalized, and sooner than later, I concluded that it wasn't the case for everyone.

My journey

In my personal experience, acknowledging the privileges started at the university. Not because it wasn't there at school, but because I wasn't old and mature enough to understand it. At the university, the story was different. I was on my own, living outside of my hometown, and my supportive family wasn't there. I was in a brand new reality with no script to tell me how I should behave.

Meeting people from other places slowly started to expose that we were not all coming from the same background and realities.

I had the chance to fully dedicate and focus on my career rather than working to pay for it, which I did just at the end of my journey. I had the freedom to choose to study what I liked without feeling forced by anyone.

Long after that, we decided to live abroad, which caused a similar effect but on a completely different magnitude. This time, the spectrum of differences was wider, and the difference between people's realities never stopped to amaze me.

Sometimes, I even regretted times when I had complained about how difficult something was, not realizing how privileged I was.

Contrary to the privileges, and for the very first time, I was sensing what it feels like to be part of a minority. It's a shame that sometimes we have to expose ourselves to a situation to understand it deeper. I like to consider myself empathetic, but sometimes the real triggers happen once we are on the other side of the fence.

Gratefully, those things helped me to understand and take what I consider better actions when getting into situations where I needed to acknowledge my sense of privilege.

Get some perspective

While doing interviews, I also noticed what perspective brings to the analysis. The more diverse the places you work, the more you will be able to determine whether a place will meet your expectations. If you only work in a place where decisions are cascaded in a top-down manner, how are you going to learn to feel involved or have the chance to challenge an idea?

Helping others in different communities is one of the top things that enlightened me to understand other people's pains and realities. On a similar note, it also helped me to be more vocal about my problems that maybe were not that common for others, and I was underestimating the effort that I was putting into it.

This is where I link the understanding of our privileges to equality. It's not a matter of effort, but of having equal opportunities. Similar to scholarships, we should be able to create those opportunities at work for everyone to be considered fairly.

Unfortunately, acknowledging the issue won't change reality. Here are some actions that I try to keep in mind to foster this to the next step:

  • Educating yourself and others about social justice issues and systemic inequalities.
  • Using your platform to amplify the voices of marginalized groups and advocate for change.
  • Engaging in conversations with friends, family, and colleagues about privilege and its impact on society.
  • Challenging stereotypes and biases, both within yourself and in your community.
  • Taking concrete steps to ensure that your actions and decisions promote fairness and equality in all aspects of life.

Real-life scenarios

One area where I see this notion of privileges reflected is in the startup world. How many videos have you watched of people explaining the necessity of failing and trying again until reaching a career of success?

While I understand the main idea behind this—the sense of fighting frustration and learning by trying—the counterpart is that not everyone has the chance to try multiple times investing money. Most of the entrepreneurs that I have seen promoting this come from a privileged context or have enough backup to ask for support if something goes wrong.

Sometimes the reason why we might play a more conservative role is because of the reality we live in and not necessarily because people are not willing to try and err. Sometimes having an error is not affordable if we have to maintain a family.

This is just one example, and if we look closer, the environment is full of these privileges. Even a small detail like growing up in an English-speaking country, in the IT world where almost everything is standardized in English, could be a benefit compared to others who are forced to learn a new language from scratch.


Don't take things for granted, and ask before jumping to conclusions. Whatever feels trivial or basic for you might not be the case for others.

Promote equal opportunities when you notice the environment is not the same for everyone.

Please make yourself aware of your privileges and act on their behalf.

Thanks for reading ❤️

Written by Manu

I am a product-driven JavaScript developer, passionate about sharing experiences in the IT world, from a human-centric perspective.

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