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Guy Who Works At Non-Profit Balks After Wealthy Friend Who Grew Up Poor Calls Out His ‘Privilege’

Two men having an argument.

Money is always a polarizing issue.

Mainly owing to the fact that no two people grew up with the same relationship with money.

Some people were lucky enough to grow up never worrying about how much they spent, while others grew up needing to keep careful records and make every penny count.

As such, even when people find themselves in different financial situations in adulthood than when they were children, their relationship with money might be no different, owing to their upbringing.

Redditor AncientMesopotamia decided that the corporate world wasn’t for him, and instead decided to go into a profession that was much less profitable, but far more emotionally fulfilling.

When the original poster (OP) told his friend about this, he felt the need to call out that he was in a privileged position to do so.

Something the OP felt his friend had absolutely no business doing.

Having doubts about how he handled the situation, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling my poor friend that he’s actually the privileged one now?”

The OP explained why he was unwilling to accept his best friend’s decision to call out his privilege when he shared some news with him about his career.

“One of my very close friends Nathan (29 M[ale]) and I (28 M) met during our first post-college job at a prestigious finance firm, and we immediately bonded over the long work hours, sh*tty middle management, and general soul-sucking nature of making PowerPoint slides and Excel sheets all day.”

“For the next few years, a lot of our friendship revolved around us talking about work and how much we hated it.”

“A few years ago, I decided that I just couldn’t take the corporate grind anymore, and I quit my job to move into the nonprofit world.”

“While I now certainly make less than I would have at my old job, I’m exponentially happier, healthier, and absolutely love the work that I do.”

“I also still make a very good salary ($80K/year) which I feel is more than enough money for me and my needs.”

“Nathan has been ambitiously climbing the corporate ladder, and recently became a VP at his firm.”

“He makes well over $300K a year.”

“Nathan grew up in a very poor family, and his relatives are still financially unstable and often ask him for money.”

“I, on the other hand, grew up in a comfortable upper-middle class suburb with parents who have always been financially stable.”

“They’re not millionaires, but if anything ever happened to me, they could (and would!) help me until I could get back on my feet.”

“Nathan does not have that privilege.”

“I recently got offered my dream job, where I would be making slightly less money than I am now ($75K/year).”

“Despite the money, I am genuinely giddy about this job prospect, and was pumped to tell my friends.”

“However, when I told Nathan, his response was ‘I’m glad you have the financial privilege to take a pay cut’.”

“Not ‘wow, I know you’ve been really wanting this job for months now and have told me all about how excited you are about it, congratulations!!!!’ or anything along those lines.”

“I’ll admit that I snapped back at him and told him that he makes triple the amount of money I do, and that, at some point, he needs to realize he’s now got privileges of his own instead of pointing out mine.”

“The conversation got a bit heated, and we agreed to hang up and cool off before talking it over later.”

“Now I’m wondering if I should apologize to Nathan for what I said, or if I should stand my ground.”

“I’m feeling angry and a bit defensive, which I realize is exactly the reaction that a spoiled rich kid would have.”

“However, I also do think it was a bit mean of him to say that at that exact moment when I was so excited.”

“And while generational wealth does give privileges that income alone does not, he literally does make over triple the amount of money that I now make, so it seems a tiny bit hypocritical for him to be calling me privileged.”

“Also, as a final note, while my parents certainly are well off, they do not support me financially in any way, and have not since I graduated from college 7 years ago.”

“So, I leave the judgement to you all – AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community generally agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for clapping back at Nathan.

Everyone agreed that the OP was absolutely correct to point out that Nathan was in no position to call him “privileged.”


“What kind of friend says that when their friends tells them they got their dream job?”- D2Foley


“What he said was pretty rude and spiteful.”

“He’s making 300k.”

“He’s doing extremely well for himself. If he’s giving it all to his poor family, that’s his choice and problem, not yours.”- KronkLaSworda


“Cry me a river to all the whiney b*stards making $300K a year. “

“The dream is to get that job and invest for five solid years so that you can retire out in the countryside.”- Petefriend86


“No matter what is ‘true/honest’ or whatever, that’s still not what a friend says when their friend gives them good news.”

“As far as you’ve written, you didn’t even say anything rude to him but just pointed out that he does have privileges now himself.”

“Which if he thinks he doesn’t, then he can eat dirt.”- I-hear-the-coast

There were some, however, who felt that neither the OP nor Nathan was a**holes in this situation, attributing Nathan’s remark to his childhood, which forever affected his relationship and perspective of money.

“No one’s the AH here.”

“I think both of you simply did not understand the other person’s perspective at that point in time.”

“I don’t think it matters who’s ‘more right’ here.”

“What matters is whether Nathan has been a good friend and one that’s worth keeping.”

“If the answer is yes, a heart-to-heart talk should sort this out.”

“Genuine adult friendships are hard to come by.”

“Don’t let a misunderstanding ruin it!”

“And congrats on getting your dream job!”- Equivalent_Joke_9617

The OP Later returned with an update, thanking the Reddit community for their opinions on the matter and sharing how he ended up handling things with Nathan.

“I’ve spent hours reading as many comments as I can, and I thank each of you for your perspectives – I have really learned a lot about privilege and what it’s like to grow up poor from some of your stories.”

“While it is nice of many of you to say that I’m not the a**hole, I do think I approached Nathan’s situation with a lot of ignorance and potential a**holery.”

“Equivalent_Joke_9617 said it best:’I don’t think it matters who’s ‘more right’ here’.”

“‘What matters is whether Nathan has been a good friend and one that’s worth keeping’.”

“‘If the answer is yes, a heart-to-heart talk should sort this out. Genuine adult friendships are hard to come by’.”

“Don’t let a misunderstanding ruin it!'”

“Nathan’s been my buddy for years, through thick and thin, and so I called him back up to apologize.”

“I mentioned that I really didn’t know what his experience had been like, that I was so proud of him for all he’s accomplished, and that I just felt a little hurt and unsupported when he called out my privilege from the get-go instead of being happy for me.”

“It felt like he was minimizing my success, but it turns out he’s just been having a tough time at work and didn’t respond in the best way to my job news.”

“He apologized too, and we had a really nice conversation.”

“I think that since we started our careers at the same place and time that it’s easy for us to compare ourselves, and we’re both guilty of the competitive comparison game with each other.”

“Anyway, it’s all good now, and I think we’ve opened up a good dialogue where I can learn more about my buddy’s past and what it’s been like for him and try and support him with some of the mental struggles of coming from poverty.”

“Listen to Equivalent_Joke_9617 and have heart-to-hearts with your friends and learn from your mistakes!”

“Also Nathan and I will be going to a baseball game next week, and he offered to buy the tickets because he’s ‘loaded’ and I’m a ‘non-profit schlub’ (both his words, both said with love).”

We’ve all been guilty of having trouble being happy for others when we’re not as happy as we could be ourselves.

And it sadly seemed like Nathan’s unhappiness clouded his judgment when the OP shared his happy news.

Thankfully, it seems like this will all be water under the bridge in a matter of time, as the OP learned that a good friendship is always worth fighting for.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.