The deadly, gilded sins of grit

How we value hard work and ignore privilege.

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Photo by Angelos Michalopoulos on Unsplash

Grit versus cutting your losses

What we need more than grit is to recognize the unfair advantages that our successful friends had. Like mentally and emotionally stable parents. Like ACT coaches. Like the money to take a college entrance exam five times. Like the money to buy — or at least rent — a decent cello.

Finding piles of cash

It’s not enough to work hard and stay focused. Because you still might get screwed over. See above example, about music lessons. The moral of that story wasn’t about hard work, or persistence, or failure. It was about means. Giving up a dream out of necessity. Shifting ambition.

A story of rags to riches on loan

In grad school I accumulated a wealth of debt. You see, the best colleges in my field gave us full tuition waivers and — hold your breath — a stipend of about fifteen grand per year. Out of that, we had to pay fees not covered by remissions. That left us with about twelve to live on.

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