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Thankfulness does not come naturally

October 14, 2011

I’m beginning to think appreciating what you have or how far you have come is not human second nature. I remember hearing a story a few weeks ago on the Marketplace podcast and how the Irish are handling their financial crisis. I’m probably exaggerating the gist of the story, but the general idea I understood was that the Irish in general expect times to be tough. That there’s a certain level of telling each other stories about how bad you’ve had it and trying to top one another with your sufferings.

I’m not sure that’s so alien to American culture though. For me personally to have had a career prior to being an engineer, I’m a little older and have had to work a bit more to achieve the same level of income that many of my colleagues got right away, fresh out of college. And many more of my colleagues had military experience and it was the GI Bill that enabled them to go back to school and become engineers. And yet somehow this is sort of not discussed. I feel like it’s made them stronger and more mature engineers to have this background. And I feel like they, like myself, are more appreciative of the salaries we’ve achieved now, more so than those who didn’t have prior work experience of any sort. But I notice many of my other colleagues sort of gloss over this past experience. It’s like their ashamed. So while on person’s hard work gives them a certain sort of background, and it the same time seems to alienate those who’ve had it a bit easier. It’s just not discussed. Achievements at work and moving up there are discussed. But having come from a tough background seems to shame everyone who had it just a little better, or just a lot better. I feel like it says something about our society. That we’d like to believe we personally have had it really tough and worked for everything we’ve gotten. And when we find out that’s not always the case, that we had an advantage somebody else didn’t have, that they had to work a little harder to get where we are, we just try to cover it up and don’t talk about it.

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