We don’t all have the same 24 hours in a day

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An adult counting coins on his/her palm

We all love to hear about successful people. We like hearing what they went through and how they were not much different from us, that there was a time in their life that they were only dreaming of what they have achieved now. Some of these stories prove to be inspirational, further empowering us to be unwavering in our desire to reach our dreams. When talking about success, people focus on the fact that they worked hard for what they achieved. They are often praised for their perseverance and endless attempts to go after their goal. However, what really bothers me is when they fail to recognize their privilege and just hastily and smugly says, “Well, we all have the same 24 hours in a day.” Saying so (and believing such) is completely devoid of empathy and knowledge about what other people go through.

There is nothing wrong with working hard and trying relentlessly. What’s wrong is thinking that everyone else has the exact same privilege that you had in life, therefore believing that they just have to do what you did and they’ll achieve the same results. You can’t just advise someone to “fail a lot in life” to succeed because not everyone can do so.

Those under the poverty line don’t have the same 24 hours as those in the higher classes. If you struggle with three odd jobs, come home to do the laundry, and cook for the family, you have barely any time to rest, much less work on achieving your dreams. Even something as simple as going to work already shows a big difference in how time is spent. A well-off person could rent a place much closer to work, or live far away and drive a car. Meanwhile, those in lower classes would rent a place farther from the business district where rent is cheaper and probably have to spend more or less 2 hours just to get to work. By living so far away, going back and forth in a day already costs the person 4 hours, whereas a person living close by could spend 30 minutes walking, costing a total of 1-hour effort in a day.

Even when it comes to sleep, you can’t blame someone for not being able to sleep 8 hours a night because they reach their house much later than others. When it comes to household chores, undeniably, those who have helpers in the house could spend their time creating art or pursuing their passion while those who live alone would have to wash their dishes, clean their house, cook enough food, and attend to their own needs. Some people can’t live because they are busy trying to survive.

By recognizing all these, although we literally have the same 24 hours in a day, one will see how differently people spend their time. Some people cannot afford to go after their dreams or fail many times. For others, trying relentlessly comes easy because they can afford to lose their capital in a business or they have fallback money saved up in the bank, but this isn’t the case for everyone else. Some people can’t afford to fail even once and so they never try at all. Going after your passion and your lifelong dreams is a privilege, and must be seen as such because not everyone can do nor afford that. It certainly doesn’t help to make others feel worse about themselves by shamelessly saying, “But we have the same 24 hours in a day!”

So, what do we do now?

We stay kind, empathic, and sensitive to others. We share wonderful opportunities with other people instead of keeping it to ourselves. We recognize our own privileges and try to help other people out. We encourage and support each other. After all, we’re all just trying to be happy.

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Philippines