Hello. My name is entitlement. And I am here to protect you. You see, you have been through a lot, and therefore it is important to know that yes, you deserve whatever it is that you may desire. You deserve it by virtue of what you have been through, and I am here to ensure that you know that. I know that there aren’t too many girls in your school or neighborhood who sat shivah for a parent. So if you feel the need for leniency from you teachers, then, yes, you should get it. You need an extra outfit, or a new pair of earrings – then go for it. Of course you should. After all, how many girls in your camp had to pack without their mother’s help? So make sure that you get whatever you want. If someone says something insensitive to you, it is okay to feel angry at that person and maybe even mumble nasty comments under your breath. After all, there aren’t that many girls who watched their parent wither away from sickness. No one has any right to say anything hurtful to you, even it was unintentional.
You want to know why I am qualified to talk this way. Simple. Because according to Webster’s, the definition of me is: the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something; the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges).
And you deserve it. So I am making sure that you know that. I am your friend who only wants you to be happy.
Have you ever had this voice of entitlement reverberating inside your head? Maybe it’s even there subconsciously, without you realizing it. It might be something that you don’t even want to admit, and you push it away.
But I think that I can introduce you to this “voice” because somewhere along the journey of my life, this friend that calls itself entitlement wormed its way into my head and heart. You see, I can tell you why I feel entitled.
If I would repeat the words that my sister’s friend said to me, you would agree that she is mentally unstable. How could anyone say such a thing? And yet she is very normal and said the most hurtful and untrue words. I know I am entitled to be angry at her forever.
If all my neighbors upgraded their kitchens, then shouldn’t I be able to do it as well? After all, I am the one who spends the most time there cooking, serving and cleaning up. And with all my hardships, I would think that at least I am entitled to what has become the norm in my neighborhood.
And if Hashem is still sending me hard situations after everything I have been through, can’t I say, “Hashem, it is enough. I don’t deserve this. I am entitled to only good things from now on.”
But one fine day, I turned to entitlement and I said, “Are you really helping me to be happier, or are you making me feel angry that my life isn’t perfect? And besides, why do you think that I am entitled to that perfect life? Yes, I know that I have been through challenges that most others haven’t been through. But it is what Hashem chose for me. Looking toward Hashem and asking Him for help in accepting the pain and to guide me in how to deal with it will bring me to a much happier place. Having entitled feelings will only keep me in my unsettled frame of mind.
You see, really, I believe in Hashem. And everything that happens is straight from Hashem. Even a person who is hurtful to me is only the shaliach of Hashem. So if Hashem gave me many painful nisyonos and then continues to put me in painful situations, it is because He knows what is best for me. It doesn’t make me entitled to anything. And staying angry or constantly running to keep up with everyone isn’t what will bring me to happiness.
In Pirkei Avos, perek gimmel,mishnah ches, it says “Ten lo mi’shelo she’ata v’shelcha shelo.” Rabbi Twerski explains that we should never feel resentment toward someone to whom we are giving tzedakah because we aren’t entitled to that money. When Hashem blesses someone with money, he is also being told to distribute it to those who need it. It isn’t all his to keep.
Each brachah that we have in our life is something Hashem in His kindness gave to us. He didn’t give it to us because we are entitled to it. He gave us lots of gifts because He loves us. We aren’t entitled to physical or mental health. We aren’t entitled to loving parents, looks or popularity. By recognizing that all these are gifts from Hashem, we can appreciate all the wonderful berachos He has given to us. And did He put me and you in some excruciating, painful situations? Yes. Does that make us entitled to now live on easy street? NO. Can we still feel happy? Yes. It’s a decision we can make. To decide to want to feel the happiness and accept what Hashem chose for us and to be grateful for the good that He gives us along the way.
And so I say to entitlement, “I am sorry. I do not want to be your friend. You are not here to make me happy. You are here to feed your own ego. I will not listen to you. I am ready to have a more serene existence. I will recognize that good. And I will recognize the challenges as something that Hashem has given to me to grow from. But entitled? Sorry, no room for that in my life. Bye-bye.”
This article originally appeared in Links magazine and appears here with permission.