Don’t get too comfortable

There’s a little routine I have the privilege of going through occasionally. I first noticed it at the swimming pool last year (or the year before), sitting around with Shimmy.

I was sitting on the edge of the pool, feeling entirely un-self-conscious. A brief check confirmed that I was indeed just sitting there in plain sight of other humans, in a hairy overweight body and shorts, without a conspicuous justification. Yet, I didn’t feel at all self-conscious.

In a flit of self-esteem, I thought I was finally becoming adult and self-assured and ready to stand with my head up and chest out and to stride over to something and do things and achieve outcomes. The comfort that came from knowing I didn’t need to feel challenged or threatened or mistaken felt like the culmination of some personal development and a profound achievement

Then I caught sight of myself and had to reset the scales. Just who was I to sit there like I belonged in the world? I was a thirty-something educated urban white man. Who was more entitled to sit there as if he belonged there? The ‘personal development’ was perhaps nothing more than an inexorable accrual of entitlements. Had I been just one of those boys born normal enough to become—pinch by pinch—what the world expects?

  • male
  • cis
  • white
  • married
  • father
  • no longer young
  • not yet old

Didn’t my comfort, big belly and belief in myself only tell me I’d hit the sweet spot? Did a sudden imperviousness arise from the lack of angles from which to attack?

It started at the pool, but repeats over and over again. I get to a place—comfortable and confident—and then I get uncomfortable. I’m not entirely sure how to grow my ego and check the male privilege at the same time, but remembering the latter only occasionally is surely beneficial.