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For my Mom and Dad...

gfeliz's picture

101 North Merion

Bryn Mawr, PA, 19010

Box C-675

December 9, 2011


Dear Mom and Dad,


            I write you this letter to inform you that this has been one hell of a semester. I am convinced that I have been through it all. Ok, maybe not…

These past 3 ½ months have been full of its ups and downs. It has included: all nighters, sleeping on the benches outside in 42-degree weather because I had nothing else better to do, eating 7 clementines in one night because there was nothing else good to eat, waking up my roommate at 1:37 in the morning because I thought it was funny, printing more than 40 pages in the Canaday library on accident, riding my scooter down a hill in the rain…and falling, crying in my room by myself because I had too much work to do (this happened very often), laughing very obnoxiously past “silent hours” in my room and then being yelled at to “SHUT UP”, and the list goes on and on…

But more importantly, this semester has opened my eyes to something more than just knowing that my body can only function for 22 straight hours and that I have become lactose intolerant and I cannot eat the ice cream in Haffner or Erdman without suffering all night. This semester has made me realize that I do not know who I am anymore. I wake up every morning a new person—expecting the unexpected and preparing myself a new “mask” for the day. I do not know where I come from anymore, what socio-economic class I am apart of, or what I should be feeling about my class and education. I am confused and unfortunately, I have lost a lot of myself because of this.

I want you both to know that I have been struggling with what the word “privilege” means. I have been changing my definition of this word all semester. At first, I thought that being privileged was being happy with your life, having all of your needs met, and having an education, shelter, clothes, and food. But this definition sometimes changes for me; I sometimes think that being privileged is a form of “access.” For example, I could be more privileged than someone else because I have access to more necessities or access to a better education or access to a nicer home or access to more opportunities. And because of this, I have concluded that with privilege comes guilt. And I thought that being privileged was a good thing but over the course of the semester, I realized how guilty I am for being and feeling privileged. I am so better off than so many other people and I have never realized it. Is it bad that I have never realized how privileged I am? It doesn’t even matter to me anymore because I do not even want to consider myself privileged! I want to replace that word with blessed. I am blessed to be where I am today.

But what is blessed and how is it different from being privileged? I think blessed is a more universal term than privileged. We are all blessed to be living. More specifically at Bryn Mawr, we (as students) are all blessed to be here and have an amazing education. In a more spiritual sense, blessed means to be happy in my opinion. It is the type of happiness that is self-contained. To be blessed is something that can only come from inside of you and I feel like this semester I have found that happiness within myself to realize that I am blessed and not privileged. I am blessed for the many sacrifices that you both have made for me, I am blessed for the many years of education I have received so far, I am blessed for being able to afford an amazing education, I am blessed for being a part of a beautiful family, and so much more.

I have taken it upon myself to make a clear distinction between the words privileged and blessed because I do not want to have to feel like I am “more privileged” than someone else; I do not want to have to compare myself to others. Class status is one of the many distinctions of whether someone is “more privileged” than someone else. However, I can’t even tell what socio-economic class background I am apart of anymore. In fact, I often do not even care. Though, I do know that I am apart of a flexible socio-economic class. Because of the nature of your job, Dad, my class has become flexible. I move in and out of the lower-middle class, middle class, and upper-middle class. I say this because your job is so dependent on what the government gives you. Remember that one time when your job was in danger and you thought that you were not going to be paid because of how bad the economy was? Yes, well, that was a rough time where money was really tight. That is how our class becomes a bit flexible sometimes. My socio-economic class is your socio-economic class. 

Although I have been having quite a bit of a identity crisis, I think that I have figured myself out a little bit as I continue to explore who I am. In addition to being blessed and of a flexible socio-economic class, I am also thankful for the opportunities that I have been given. Because of you both, I have been granted access to an outstanding education. It is here at Bryn Mawr, that I have been growing as a person and perfecting the image of who I really am. It has not been easy. Here at Bryn Mawr, I have met people who are from different geographical locations, who have more money than me, who are different religions, who came from public schools, who are lesbian, who are future journalists, who are future activists, who were raised by a single mother, and so on. But here I am today, the product of a father who went to Fordham University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a mother who worked just as hard all of her life to give me what she never had—I am here to show you both that the socio-economic class that I was born into will do me no harm in the education that you have provided me with. I will not let the issues that are associated with the lower class, middle class, and upper class affect me as I continue my journey here at Bryn Mawr. Yes, there are class barriers and yes, I will still need to find out who I am but I will not let class and privilege affect me.

I know that I am blessed for the home that I live in, the school where I study, the friends that I have, the clothes that I wear, the opportunities that I am given, and the food that I eat. So, Mom, Dad, thank you. Thank you so much for everything you have given me for the sake of my education. I will continue to work hard into next semester and for the next three years that I am here. I will continue to work hard for everything that you both did not have when you were my age. Being where I am right now is a blessing, not a privilege.


Lots of love, para siempre,




jccohen's picture

blessings and privileges


I am so moved by your letter to your mom and dad, and especially by your struggle with the issues of identity and privilege and your recasting of being 'privileged' as being 'blessed.'  This is a compelling way to speak to the issues of guilt and shame that we've discussed in our ESem this semester, and also that we've not discussed (I think of the issues in the bag at our final performances).  You also say here, looking to your future at Bryn Mawr, 'I will still need to find out who I am but I will not let class and privilege affect me,' and I'd love to hear more about what that means to you, how you can both explore issues of identity and yet...?  Are you suggesting that a sense of being 'blessed' allows you to explore in new/different ways?