Entitlement: What exactly does life owe us? – #KayaCentral
This Wednesday on Kaya Central the team explored the subject of entitlement and asked why people feel entitled to certain things. From the interaction with listeners, it is clear that entitlement comes in different levels and applies to very broad subject matters. Opinions ranged from rightful entitlement to the riches of our land to uncomfortable expectations from extended family to share the little that you are gathering in your journey of success. This begs the question of whether the problem could be where you apply your sense of entitlement as opposed to feeling entitled altogether.
One listener said, “Maybe we should get a definition of entitlement because I feel I am entitled to the riches of the African soil as I am an African.” To which Mvangeli retorted, “why do you feel entitled to that? Because you have to work hard for these riches, you cannot simply be born into the riches…” Both sides of this conversation are correct. However, let’s reflect on what entitlement actually means. Oxford dictionaries online explains entitlement as 1) the fact of having a right to something, 2) the amount to which a person has a right, and 3) the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s reflect on our own expectations from life and the people around us. Is it safe to say that you do in fact expect special treatment from certain people in your life and that you think you have a right to that treatment? This question is not meant to trigger you into defensive mode. This is a self-reflection exercise, and so you need to be real with yourself. It could be your best friend’s time, your mother’s belongings, your boy’s circle of many lady friends and even your company’s star-of-the-office badge. Entitlement, as aforementioned, is broad and applies to even the most trivial of things.
To an extent, we all have a right to be entitled to at least one thing in life. The only measurement here should be how extreme or trivial our expectations are because key to life is being able to manage your own expectations so as to not find yourself in misery over something that was not promised to you to begin with. That is setting yourself up for unwanted stress. And because life is not straightforward, let’s resort to answering the title of this blog with, “”life does not owe us anything at all.” Why do I say this? The sooner we all accept that things will not fall into our laps simply because we feel we deserve it, the better off we’ll be. Case in point, not everybody that is punctual, reliable and a pleasure to work with at the office deserves a promotion or a raise for that matter. We need to come to the realisation that we all have a role to play in life and in our various environments. A role that comes with standard requirements which once have been performed should not be followed by a pat on the back, a reward or an incentive. We also need to detach ourselves from the culture of doing things in the hope that one day you will do the same for me too. This attitude already constitutes a grave miscommunication of situation because there are now expected conditions of your actions which the other party is unaware of.
There is no denying that it cuts deep to be “denied” something you passionately feel should have been coming your way. However, before you go pointing fingers at someone or directing your anger toward what was not promised to you, ask yourself, “what did I actually do to deserve this so much?” If your answer starts with “I am…” then it’s not up for negotiation whether you deserve that certain thing. So, dear distant brother of the cousin that was sitting at the back during my baptism, I do not actually know you and therefore am not obliged to send you “something” at the end of the month simply because your mother shares parents with my grandmother. Also, dear foul man on the street, I am not obliged to greet you back as I rush past you in the street. Dear girlfriend, you are not entitled to your boyfriend’s pay check by virtue of the fact that he is dating you, you are not his wife. Dear mkaya, life owes us nothing we are not willing to work hard for ourselves.