By definition, the adjective “entitled” has two meanings.
The positive description applies to a person who is well off, privileged, and who has a better situation than others.
In medieval times, the nobleman, an aristocrat with power and property, held the title — Viscount, Duke, Baron, Lord. The eldest male heir would inherit it with the property and responsibilities.
In modern times, a knighthood can be bestowed on a deserving individual who has served the crown, the country, or the world. In the international scene, there are titles for culture and the arts — film, music, ballet, and painting. There is the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace, the sciences and Literature. The Pulitzer Prize has different categories as well.
In the local setting, we have the coveted National Artist and National Scientist awards.
There are medieval orders and elite groups affiliated with the Church such as the Knights of Malta and St. Gregory.
In contrast, the other type of entitled person is the spoiled, selfish egoist. The sense of entitlement could apply to diverse characters in different fields — intellectual (academe), physical (sports or beauty), and socio-economic.
The aura of elitism and exclusivity may cause a person to lose his equilibrium. He thinks that he/she is special and deserves special treatment because he/she was born into and grew up in a privileged family, a certain class.
An entitled heir may not understand how people who are not rich actually live. He could be blissfully unaware or just apathetic about others. Perhaps it comes from being in a lofty, distant, insulated position, away from the harsh realties of life.
Fame, financial success, a windfall, marriage are other factors. The beauty queen, sports champion, showbiz star, or the politician may belong to this group with the entitled mentality. Their partners, and families may unwittingly pick up the haughty traits and disdainful attitude. The diva or prima donna comes in many forms.
These “special” persons may expect or demand freebies such as complimentary front row seats, upgraded trips and vacations, designer clothes, jewelry, food, gifts, house, car and other material perks.
One glaring flaw is the lack of punctuality and consideration. They keep other people waiting. Time is so precious. Keeping others in a holding pattern is like robbing a person of valuables. They don’t apologize. Courtesy, kindness, and thoughtfulness are not on top of their list of virtues and values.
The entitled one walks on air and cannot relate to people he considers beneath his class, rank, level or grade. He thinks that the world owes him and should give him certain privileges that he would not want to share with others. The shiny package and the cushion of comfort are only for him.
Social scientists point out that arrogance, superciliousness, and haughtiness are evident in this character’s attitude and behavior.
At the other extreme, the person with confidence and class, no matter what his/her background, has a quality of being sure of himself without being cocky. A writer once described it as “a surefootedness” that comes with having proven you can meet life. This refers to an individual who is grounded and real. He is equipped to meet and resolve all challenges.
We encounter an assortment of people who may have tolerable to irritating variations of self-centeredness. It is not easy to deal with narcissists. Everything revolves around their whims, caprices, and needs. They may not have what it takes to handle and surmount obstacles, to fight and win battles. They would expect someone else to go to the forefront and clear the way. The entitled spoiled one always feels special and he needs pampering. If he loses, he cannot accept defeat. The “I, Me, Myself” attitude can be boring, tiresome. Just as nonchalance and cynicism can affect the individual and hasten the ageing process. It alienates others.
The cure for this malady is to go outward — to broaden one’s outlook, to develop a genuine concern for other people and to share with the community.
“A passionate interest in what you do is the secret of enjoying life, whether it is helping old people or children, or making cheese or growing earthworms,” the American chef Julia Child once remarked. It is certainly more significant than feeling entitled.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.