Setting Off - October 16
I am privileged. Not only does my skin color prevent discrimination as I move through the world, but my class privilege of my family has distanced me from the typical daily life experiences of most other Americans and the world. College peeled back the mirage of American greatness and my place within it. While at school I could feel like we were all just college students among our other identities, I have now lost that label and I have returned home, which means face to face with my privileged upbringing, but now there is a strange disgust in my mouth.
My bed and pajamas were my place of refuge for the month after I walked across stage to shake the college president’s hand. I was depressed. Escaping into television shows and comparing myself to friends on Facebook and on LinkedIn, I felt isolated in my own thoughts.
I had been researching the global environmental all my life and the social problems through college. I have been wanting to jump in all my life, but now that I graduated and I am free to act, I felt overwhelmed. Where do I start? Where do I fit trying to remedy hunger, climate change, racism, and all the other problems humanity is grappling with? The list seemed endless and intertwined. There seemed to be so much greed, pain, anger, and sadness and I wanted to take some action to resolve the big picture. But, this internal struggle to “find my place” was only one piece of the problem.
The deeper question was about privilege itself. Where do go live that does not gentrify an area? What community do I join? How can I help from this high privileged place? These questions and thoughts restrained me to my bed. As I noticed these thought-loops and my actions bringing those around me down, I decided to leave. Travel to attend a conference on systems design in Oslo and get footage to make a food documentary as an extension of my college capstone on biology, food and systems.
As I asked for help paying for the trip from my grandparents, I tried to rationalize my ask by telling myself that it will enable me to help people and the environment. But, in reality, people everyday are stepping into the “frontlines” to fight for their rights or the rights of others. So my ask was simply a privilege, and I feel guilty for having indulged in it and guilt in how I got to Oslo. After spending weeks emailing cargo shipping companies and reading blogs of people traveling around the world by ship, I bought an airplane ticket. And it was cheaper.