The Trap of Entitlement

The world does not owe us shit. I hated this gritty realization when it hit me. I figured life would work out exactly as I had imagined it. My career, relationship, health, and family would all somehow align into this perfect dream I envisioned. I would have my house tucked away in the woods, with an awesome family, and ample free time to follow my passions. I mean, I did all the “right” things. Went to college, got a PhD, lived abroad to help the world’s less fortunate, followed a healthy lifestyle, adhered to a code of ethics…. Life was bound to reward me for my efforts. Then reality slapped me in the face. Despite my efforts to create the perfect conditions for “success”, I was entitled to nothing.

This awareness hit me hard and uprooted my entire approach to life. I was stuck, I was playing small, waiting for life to give me the future I deserved. It was as if I had bought all the ingredients for an amazing cake, arranged them perfectly in the kitchen, and sat waiting for someone to magically show up and do the work for me. I wasted a lot of time doing this. Then it hit me, I am the baker. It was a scary thought. I am good at the prep, but can I get my hands dirty and see what I am really capable of? My mind raced, maybe another degree would help, then things would surely fall in place. That, of course, was not the answer.

“Success” is not an endpoint, but a state of being

I do not share this viewpoint alone, the feeling of entitlement is far more common and insidious than you may think. It is a subtle perspective that allows you to push responsibility of your life onto others or forces beyond our comprehension. The good news is we are entitled to some things, those being our innate abilities and skills that make us who we are. These, however, are not a precursor to success. I cannot tell you how many people I have interacted with that felt just because they were extremely smart (or excellent athletes or pious or hard workers…) that life was going end up the way they wanted. These things help, but they are not the recipe for success.

So what is the recipe for “success”. In my view it starts in seeing that “success” is not an endpoint, but a state of being. It is about the process of setting your intentions and actively cultivating the life you want. Entitlement aims to skip this step. It wants to shortcut the very essence of what makes us who we are, our journey. It wants life to give us the endpoint without having done any of the work. It is a mentality that takes away our power to create the very things we are grasping for.

You have to go after what you want

To dilute the message down, you have to go after what you want. Don’t stand expecting the perfect moment to arise or the right person to walk in, step towards what you desire. No doubt there is risk in this. It might not end up the way you intend, you may not have control over all the variables you would like, you might fail. But it is the most assured method to actually securing what you want.

As someone who has grappled with the disempowerment of entitlement, I can offer this advice. Be clear on your intentions in life. Be honest with yourself on what you feel entitled to and whether you need to take responsibility to secure it. If you find your current life disconnected from where you feel you should be, take action and forge a path that aligns with the life you want.

Don’t stand idly waiting for life to happen to you, step forward to create it