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Teen Voice - 02/10/2013

updated: Feb 09, 2013, 2:00 PM

By Kelsey Abkin

Growing up I was always trapped in khaki and lovingly shoved into a world of high education and a lot of excess. Up until I was 14 I lived in a picturesque neighborhood strongly resembling those on Disney Channel movies, and after that I moved into the lavish world of Montecito. You could say, without a doubt, that I have grown up privileged. Now, I don't mean privileged as in owning million dollar mansions, but privileged as in I never once carried the anxiety of uncertainty. The point of this comprehensive description of my background is not to boast on how blessed I feel to be fortunate (although I do), but instead to acknowledge the dangers of a childhood such as this.

Growing up I've learned to expect that spending summers in France was normal, that Ivy League schools were realistic possibilities, and that one day I would have a beautifully restored 5-bedroom, 5-and-a- half bath home in a historic, tree-lined community. These expectations are comforting and I do still believe that they carry some truth, but they also carry the curse of lacking motivation. I see people all around me graduating High School only to take "the year off" and before they know it they have spent five years partying in their parent's guesthouse. This is the danger of high expectations; the idea that life lacks a worst-case scenario and no matter what, there always is someone/thing to fall back on. There are many times I slip up and find that I too believe that my fortunate childhood experience will automatically follow me into adulthood, and although this is a consoling thought, it is also one of high risk.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 372623 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 02:25 PM

You forgot the "privilege" of you being the only mouthpiece for teenage thoughts in Santa Barbara.


 COMMENT 372624P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 02:28 PM

as with anything growing up sheltered has its costs and benefits. often times you sacrifice cultural and ideological diversity when you live in a homogeneous society.


 COMMENT 372625P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 02:29 PM

@623....What does that mean?


 COMMENT 372627 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 02:32 PM

It's good you notice it now, but will you change yourself to overcome your concerns?


 COMMENT 372632P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 02:44 PM

@623, are you suggesting no other teen has any voice in any other venue? Surely, much as we enjoy edhat, we realize that there are other places in which other teens can voice their thoughts, both online and off.


 COMMENT 372633 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 02:44 PM

That fact that you are aware and thankful for your privileges will be your salvation.

I had many "trust fund baby" friends who did the party scene and never amounted to anything. Many died young from drug overdoses. There are dangers to not having to work to pay your own bills and eat and support your family.

Your observations are very insightful and will serve you well.


 COMMENT 372641 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 03:11 PM

I think this is a nice piece, and I am glad an ultra privileged child who lives in montecito knows how lucky they are... But I think they greatly misused the term 'high risk'. They are not, and nor will they likely ever be a high risk child. The safety net is there for them. High risk children are all over Santa Barbara and Goleta and Santa Maria and Lompoc, children of poor, underprivileged families, broken homes, uneducated parents, and are swept up in bad decisions because they seem like the only options available to them. When your biggest concern is that your friends are partying in their parents' spare guesthouses for too long, you are Not High Risk. But I am so glad that they are thinking about more, and trying to learn from their peers' mistakes. Credit where credit is due, glad that they're thinking. Good on you, kid. Use your education and skills to try and open some of your peers' minds too!


 COMMENT 372642 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 03:13 PM

If knowledge is power, and awareness is key, you will have little to worry about in this life. Your intellect and insights will carry you through.

One cannot decide into what socio-economic circumstance we'll be born into, just be grateful (you already are it seems) and use this to your advantage. You shouldn't feel bad or uncertain about being privileged, use all the tools and advantages you've been blessed with and run with them...to that Ivy-league school, or off to France, and everywhere else in the world.

Use that brain for good things, stay humble, be kind, give generously of your time and resources and you will leave a legacy worth remembering.

I hope your family is proud of you Kelsey, I am!


 COMMENT 372643 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 03:24 PM



 COMMENT 372644 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 03:27 PM

633 - Very true. If you do not have to struggle for your own survival you will never know the value of life.


 COMMENT 372646P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 03:46 PM

624P here, i totally agree with 633 and 644.

"Do one thing every day that scares you" - Eleanor Roosevelt


 COMMENT 372653 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 04:11 PM

Hunger for success or accomplishment does not come with poverty or deprivation. It comes from desire, a desire that knows no socio-economic boundaries.

Yes, if you've had a taste of summers in France or the Bahamas you will want to aspire to achieve that for yourself and you will have a few more entry points to prove yourself than someone raised in the barrio. But with that also comes a taking for granted, a sense of ease. This will not work in your favour and is the other side of the double edged sword that tells a kid raised in the barrio that s/he will not succeed. Silver spoon or chip on the shoulder ... it all amounts to the same handicap.


 COMMENT 372665 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 05:16 PM

interestingly enough you surround yourself by these people Kelsey, why?


 COMMENT 372731 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 07:54 PM

This is why I support mandatory national service, with no advantage to the rich or powerful. Sounds good, but it would never work.

Well kid, enjoy the ride.


 COMMENT 372816 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-10 09:30 AM

731 I totally agree on a year of national service.... And not just to expose the rich kids.......many of our problems could be addressed.......blight, education, military service, etc., etc.


 COMMENT 372829P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-10 10:49 AM

So self-indulgent. You don't get it yet. Maybe you will never get it. The fact that you think you are reflecting on your privilege and therefore are more insightful than you cohorts is not true. Teen age angst is common. You are just allowed to flog it.


 COMMENT 372834 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-10 11:05 AM

Good for you for posting this. I'm sure you knew it would get a wide variety of reactions! Maybe you're already pursuing this, but I agree with the "service" suggestion. Peace Corp, Americorp, inner city work or volunteering locally...all are opportunites to learn from the diversity, both economic and ethnic. Since you are starting to have such awareness, go out into the world and make it a better place!


 COMMENT 373009P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-10 09:18 PM

Just because someone has grown up privileged does not guarantee a worry free Disneyland existence. I grew up in this same neighborhood Kelsey speaks of. Only it was many years earlier and much more idealistic. I was a spoiled kid with no concept of what was truly important in life. Then my parents divorced, my mother suffered a nervous breakdown, we lost everything in the paint fire and shortly after my mother died of cancer. At 18 I had to flee for my life by myself ,home alone with 5 minutes to leave.I saw my neighbors houses explode and horses burn to death. At 20 I watched my mother begin a horrible battle with breast cancer. At 22 I put my life on hold and moved home to care for her while she was dying.

No amount of money can prepare or protect you from trauma, illness, death and life in general. I had already experienced a great deal of life when others my age were just beginning theirs.

These battle scars have made me who I am today not the wealth or neighborhood I grew up in.


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