A sheltered life in Northern Virginia

Privilege and how this exists in our lives.

Ashleigh Tain, Editor-in-Chief


In my English class, my teacher often projects bellwork prompts and assigns the class to inquire about our insight and scribble down our thoughts. Often we are asked to answer methodical questions that gauge our understanding of the class content or simple and surface questions that relate to identity. One day, the SmartBoard read “what does it mean to live a life?” in big black letters and my classmates and I looked around at each other to share a scoff as we lazily jotted down our responses. After a few minutes, my teacher asked the class to share their responses and no one rose their hand. She picked through popsicle sticks and gathered a general consensus that to live a life is to achieve a sense of happiness and satisfaction. A very generic, yet perfectly valid insight.

The problem is, as students, our perception of life is very limited. We live in a skewed reality where a safety net ricochets monetary blows and we live in a confined academic routine where the sole end in sight is a higher education past high school. Our lives are marked by bullets of text and accumulative letters on a mere transcript and we seek substance through the obligation of authority. We are living in the preliminary chapter of our lives where we are gearing for years to come—the years where our lives are truly defined.

But this is the bubble that my friends and I live so comfortably in. We are fortunate enough to have a place of education that routinely challenges us and never falls short of insufficient. We are fortunate enough to have a self-oriented future to plan for and a means of affording this pursuit. We have devices and technology, if not, money to afford a boost in our academic progress. And this advantage is privilege.

I have always been familiar with the concept of privilege. The education that I receive, the Apple laptop and AirPods in my backpack, the roof above my head and the friends and family that consist of my life are all commodital routines that I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have. Further, in this academic reality, there is so much pride and weight that consist within our letter grades. I’ve realized that among my peers, the average course load is one that you must drown in; consisting of a number of APs just a tick higher than that of your peers to maintain some pedestal of work. My peers complain about B’s in their transcript and many are stuck on a passage of STEM that they somehow wandered into by the force of academic conformity. According to the word on the street, there is a formula to success, and anything short of such formula is failure.

But meanwhile, we are all striving towards our own interpretations of success, whether doing so with the fuel of competition and pressure.