As a child, my dad would often tease me about being spoiled; I denied that my advantages and luck were that extreme. However, I’ve always known that I have it good. I grew up in the U.S., where even living below the poverty line, which I’ve done a couple different times, is much better than billions of people have it. I’ve never gone without food, healthcare, clothing, education, or other basic necessities.

I am a very lucky person.

And, I grew up in a country and with people who encouraged me to think bigger than a farm in Arkansas. I believe, I have worked hard (and am working hard) to turn what I was given into a successful life that I want to live.

This general awareness of how lucky you are is usually something that we feel more strongly while working with the disadvantaged or traveling through or living in developing and third world countries. Those kinds of experiences sort of make you recalibrate the advantages you started with (just knowing English is a huge advantage). They give you a sense of perspective.

The same is definitely true for living and working in Afghanistan. But at the same time, it’s on a completely different scale.*

I have never been given such advantages, privileges, and comforts, while at the same time, being constantly reminded of how darn lucky I am.

Here are just a few of the extra perks I am receiving while in Kabul:

  • laundry, washed, folded, and placed in my room daily
  • fruit, while I was quite sad when mango season ended, it was followed by pears and apricots, followed by watermelon and honeydew (always cut and waiting in the fridge), which it seems is followed by pomegranates (found a bowl of just the seeds in the fridge today)
  • cleaning, done daily
  • cooking, have I mentioned our amazing cooks? while I understand it’s their job, they both go above and beyond to make us delicious food (even if I’m the only one eating at lunch, even during Ramadan)
  • driving, I never have to battle the terrible Kabul traffic or navigate the pot-filled roads; the drivers here are courteous and friendly and always willing to help me learn a little more dari or answer my incessant questions about the places and things we pass
  • APO, while we can find a lot of things in the well-stocked expat stores, easily getting mail and packages from the U.S., whether from friends or our favorite stores, makes life here that much easier

And so, while as a kid I always denied I was “spoiled,” I’m ready to accept that right now I am 100% Spoiled! Sometimes I can’t believe that they are paying me to do this.

*Note: this is not to say that I don’t work hard, that the work isn’t challenging, that it isn’t difficult being in war-torn area, that I don’t miss my friends, that I’m able to dress as I please or go where I want, that I understand much of what is going on in meetings, that my immune system can handle it…

Revised: in my original list, I completely forgot to include healthcare. While I wouldn’t want to be treated for anything complicated here, seeing a doctor and getting medicine for basic ailments is a breeze. I always get an appointment for the same day. I rarely wait to see the doctor. And I’m out, with my medicine in hand, within about 10 minutes. And the time I needed lab work, I went straight to the lab and had my results in my hand in less than 30 minutes. It is an amazing thing to witness (astonishing really). I wish the locals had even a fraction of the access I have to healthcare here.