It’s Not Fair

By Guest Contributor

Life’s not fair. Ever since we were little children, we’ve heard that phrase so many times, and while we never wanted to believe it, it’s true. Life isn’t fair. And it all starts at birth: we arrive into this world carrying different kinds of baggage already packed with genes that predetermine certain aspects of our identity. Then more gets stuffed in on top of those genes – things like our socioeconomic status, dialect, talents, sexual orientation or faith – and at a certain point, it may seem like some people are blessed with a lighter load while others struggle with baggage that holds them back in their journey through life.

Those born with baggage viewed as disadvantageous often choose to wrap themselves in the pitiful garments of victimhood, deeming the baggage they received at birth the reason why they cannot meet certain standards or why people treat them a certain way. When I was younger, I remember taking a 4-H trip to Cornell University with one of my friends. We both came from the poor, rural town of Cincinnatus, NY, and I distinctly remember my friend saying, “I don’t think anyone from Cincinnatus could ever end up in a college like Cornell.” I hear a similar mentality even today, with people complaining about how unfair it is that others look down on them because of their gender or race. Now, I’m not denying the existence of discrimination. It definitely exists, and yeah, it is unfair. I just think that instead of letting other people determine what we can and can’t do, we should know ourselves and not let any discrimination define our value as human beings.

After all, we are who we are, and there are some things about our identities that we just cannot change. We can’t change our ethnicity. We can’t change the family situation into which we were born. We can’t change our height or our skin color or our genes. Those are the cards we were dealt, and there’s nothing we can do about that. Of course there will be people out there who deny us opportunities because of those things, and of course there will be certain times when our situation puts us at a slight disadvantage in life. But should that stop us from pursuing our dreams? Personally, I want to do what people say I can’t do. As an introverted girl raised by a single mom from a poor family in a small town where many treated us as outsiders because of our Asian heritage, no one expected me to graduate with honors from a reputable private school or get accepted into a prestigious college like Middlebury. There were many things that people thought I couldn’t do and many times I was denied opportunities because of who I am. But instead of discouraging me, that just fueled my desire to prove them all wrong.

That’s why I can’t understand why so many people insist on being defined and limited by the baggage they carry through life. Instead of focusing on the negative and complaining about the unjust system or bigoted people in society, I think we should commit ourselves to striving for excellence, no matter what anyone tries to tell us. We know our own selves better than anyone else, so we should be able to determine when the criticisms actually hold merit or when they are just plain untrue. Besides, we have standards in place not to prevent people from success, but to encourage them to work harder to meet and surpass those standards. When you push yourself to work hard and achieve something others thought you couldn’t achieve, and actually succeed at doing so, the satisfaction and pride that you get are so immensely pleasant and rewarding. Even if you don’t succeed, at least you tried and didn’t give up just because other people didn’t believe in you. And we are extremely fortunate to live in a country that gives us that opportunity. That’s why so many people flock to America – in America, everyone is guaranteed an equal opportunity to achieve whatever they want regardless of their race, religion, gender or anything else. The only things not guaranteed are results. But the inequality of results is not simply caused by some people having heavier baggage than others; it’s caused by the inequality of effort put in to compensate for that baggage. No matter how much of an advantage you have, if you don’t put in the effort to get something, why would you complain when you don’t get it?

In the end, it’s not about what others say or do to hold us back; it’s about what we actually do despite those obstacles. Sure, we may not all have the same backgrounds, the same things or the same skills, but that’s not what’s unfair. We all have the same opportunity to make the best of what we’re given, so we shouldn’t let anything prevent us from achieving success. We shouldn’t make excuses for ourselves or elicit pity so that we can reap the benefits without putting in the work. Because that’s unfair.

Katrina Drury ’19 is from Cincinnatus, NY

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