As we age, the study of self becomes more meaningful, or perhaps it is just that we finally have the time for more self-reflection than we did when we were younger. In those younger years, we were working full time, raising the family, going on outdoor and definitely more physically challenging adventures. I wouldn’t have had a clue or the time to find a clue as to what self-entitlement meant when I was younger.
Other aspects of self-exploration I quite enjoy. It seems it may even be one of the benefits of our elder years. We finally have time to get to know ourselves, our real self. Sometimes it is about finding out what we really like doing and often it is about finding out what is really behind our behaviour, our patterns, our beliefs, or our ideals. It is definitely about becoming more self-loving, self-caring, and self-aware, to name a few ways that we can support our wellbeing as we age.
One of the latest catch phrases has been ‘self-entitlement.’ Have you heard that one being bantered around? Of course, initially, I thought, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me!” What does it mean to you? I have been on a bit of a-journey-within to find out exactly what it means to me.
Having chosen to look honestly at self-entitlement, I started to discover it in unexpected yet everyday places.
Recently I went out for lunch with a friend whom I had not seen in several months. Due to the coronavirus social distancing requirements in cafés and restaurants this particular café only had seating capacity for four tables in the outdoor seating area. When we arrived all four tables were full. There were two women at one of the tables and they were just having a hot drink – and it looked like they were nearly finished so I thought, “Oh, we’ll be able to get their table before too long.” But shortly after that, one of the other tables vacated and a staff member motioned my friend and I to come and take that table. We were quite pleased with our good luck, acknowledging to ourselves that it had been a good idea to go for an early lunch, anticipating the shortage of tables. So, while my friend and I ordered and ate our lunch, the regular mid-day crowd began to build on the footpath around us. There were several people, couples and groups, waiting for tables. Initially it didn’t bother me because we had ordered so we had to wait for our food to arrive and then we would need a reasonable amount of time to eat it. This café was also filling many take-away orders so it took a while for our lunch to arrive. Meanwhile the two women sipping on their nearly empty cups of tea were still there chatting away.
I began to hear people who were waiting for a table mumbling about the lack of tables. Then they started complaining a little louder about the people who were sitting at the tables taking so long. I was still feeling guilt free at this point because our lunch had just arrived. But still, the two women with the now empty cups of tea continued to chat as if they had all afternoon. Finally, one man became quite loud with comments like, “I hope I get a table THIS afternoon. Some people have no consideration for others.”
Anyway, my friend and I ate our lunch faster than we would normally have done but still we didn’t get rushed to eat faster than was healthy. But at this point, having people leering over our shoulders waiting for us to finish eating didn’t feel that healthy anyway! Social distancing was not being observed by those waiting for tables.
As we left the café, I said to my friend, who knew I had been pondering on what self-entitlement meant, “Well, those two women with the empty teacups were good examples of self-entitlement. They felt completely entitled to take up a table without any regard for others who were waiting for a table.”
My friend replied, “Oh, I was thinking that the man who was complaining loudly was a good example of self-entitlement. He totally felt entitled to have a table for his lunch, entitled enough to hassle the people who were sitting at the tables.”
In that instance, I wasn’t the one displaying self-entitlement, but I have seen it in myself plenty of other times.
I want to be able to book appointments at a time that is convenient to me. I am put out and often complain when I have to wait for what I consider to be an unreasonable length of time to get an appointment. I get particularly annoyed when I have an appointment booked and then they call to ‘change’ the date or time. Why? Because I’ve made other plans around my appointment and because I feel entitled - oops, there it is again – I feel entitled to make appointments when I want, not when it is convenient for the practitioner or the other clients!
I’ve worked hard all my life. I’ve paid taxes and rates for over forty years. I feel entitled to receive the age pension at age 65. It isn’t fair that my pension is diminished or withheld based on the amount of money I have managed to save in the bank!
I really get irritated with the banks. After all it is MY money, and I’m entitled to a better interest rate on my term deposit. I really get annoyed when banks make mistakes because I’m entitled to have competent people working in my bank!
And the list goes on. Really once you start looking, it is easy to find examples of self-entitlement every day. Once I can see self-entitlement playing out, it isn’t that hard to make an adjustment. What’s the adjustment? To see everyone as equal. There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet. If we all push through life led by self-interest, it will be a harsh, combative world. Some people will learn to drop the self-entitlement quicker than others. I’d like to be one of the early starters. I’m not there yet but I’m working on it.
Gayle C, Australia
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Entitled to be Human