I know we worked so incredibly hard this year, but getting a big fat bonus when so many people I know (including people I know from high school) are again fearing for their jobs felt almost criminal. How are you dealing with middle class guilt?

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Don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but if you are that torn up about it you can always donate your bonus to a charity helping those people. Otherwise, I don’t feel guilt. Me getting a bonus isn’t taking money out of those people’s pocket. Instead, I focus on being grateful for having had the opportunity to become a lawyer and for landing at a well-managed firm that got through this crisis.

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what is evil

For those who are white and in the “I work hard and don’t feel guilty at all” camp, I would just ask that you reflect on how privilege might have played a role in getting you to where you are. Even if you didn’t grow up with money.

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This person is 100% on twitter everyday complaining about something to seem “woke”

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Middle class? Bud, I got news for you. Regardless, own it. You worked harder than those people ever have and lost friends due to constantly rescheduling weekends and dinners. You made the trade.

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I know people who are flat broke working three jobs who work as hard as any of us for a tiny fraction of what we make. We’re beyond fortunate. But I get your point.

I just tell myself that I make less than 10% of what my boss makes. So if anyone should feel disgusted this year it should be him.

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By looking at my loan balance.

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I have zero guilt. While others may not receive my paycheck, they don't have my nearly 300k in student loan debt that I knowingly took on to earn my MBA and JD. No one helped me pay for a single thing since I was 16. I damn well earned every penny I make and should be paid more for working 14-16 hours a day. I pay more in taxes that benefit the poor to some extent than billionaires. I also do pro bono work averaging 15 hours a month solely dedicated to serving the disenfranchised community. Zero guilt!

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You rock!!

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I feel this. I don’t come from money. Most of my friends back home are farmers or teachers, or work minimum wage or seasonal jobs. Even the friends I made when moved away to a big city mostly work in the arts, some at start ups—everyone is basically just scraping by.

I don’t think you need to feel guilty, but for me it’s important to feel grateful: not to the firm, per se (they DEFINITELY should be paying me this much, I for sure earn it with the insane hours and stress and high value deals) but grateful that my life is what it is. I try to express this gratitude by being generous: not obnoxious, but just like, picking up the tab at dinner sometimes rather than everyone splitting (I HATE the venmo math part of dinner, would rather just get it sometimes and you get me back). Random presents. Let’s get the fancier bottle of wine and it’s on me. Take my family on trips etc. donate it, share it, whatever, just try to lift up your community a bit with your fortune. Just my 2 (or a bit more) cents.

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This is a great reply. Thanks A10.

I did come from money (not a ton, but certainly an exceedingly comfortable life) and I still feel conflicted almost a decade into private practice. I sit at a computer, yell at people on paper and verbally, and pull down in one month what some friends pull down in four. It's not guilt, but certainly some discomfort.

I'm going to lobby the spouse to use some of this check for better purposes. I can't imagine she'll disagree.

Tbh I donated a decent chunk of my net bonus. I’m a junior though so it’s not like donating 50% of a six figure bonus the way it would be if i were a senior. That’s kind of the only way I could justify it to myself because my finances are fine but $3,000 to the food bank can put food on someone’s table.

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Yeah no one gives af. We sacrifice our lives for this work and deserve to be paid market.

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Can’t feel guilty about your bonus if your firm doesn’t pay you one 😎

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Donate! I have been donating to and volunteering at food banks since March. Have also made direct contributions to some of my neighbors in need via my neighborhood Facebook group. Helping a few people turn their power back on and help with food and supplies for their kids feels good. Have also been giving out $5 instead of the usual $1 to people on the street. This is all trickling down to them too. Small things in the grand scheme, but if we all do it then can make a real difference.

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No guilt whatsoever for these reasons.

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My organization handled it for me and didn’t give me one. I’ll gladly take yours.

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Thank you, finally someone being honest. All of these other people getting off to these “white knight” fantasies just sound ridiculous.

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Donate! There are so many causes out there that would benefit. If you want to feel the impact, choose one on gofundme. Or, set aside the % you would donate into a separate account and send it to your parents every month? Might be an asian thing, but providing a monthly “gift” is nice.

No one should feel guilty for what they have. But everyone (regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, etc) should recognize their fortune. You live a life that the Emperors of Rome couldn’t have dreamt of. You live better than 99.9% of all human beings in history. And while you may work a lot of hours, let’s not kid ourselves about working harder than many others who make much less (I can think of some migrant farmers who would dispute that). Especially at this time of the year, let’s all acknowledge that in history, we were all born well on our way to home plate.

I gave to the support staff very generously this year.

I didn’t get one because I just switched jobs end of the year. Stupid decision but get whatever

I am sure a lot of hard work went into getting that bonus. No need to feel guilty. Agree with the others though, if you want to feel better, give some to a good cause. Continue to do that even when you do not get a bonus. Do it anonymously, and you will feel even better.

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