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I’ve met royalty and play polo, but that doesn’t mean I come from a wealthy family

Putting the stereotypes that all privately-educated people are faced with to bed

Having a vague reputation for being one of the Oxbridge rejects university for private schools, it’s not all that surprising that Edinburgh has a certain degree of signet rings and posh school things within it. But I can't help but notice the stigmatisation around private schools and the students that came from them.

They say that stereotypes don’t spring from nothing, and that’s fine, I get that. I’ll admit that the stereotype of private schools and the type of people they produce is not unfounded.

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Yes, many of them come from obscenely wealthy families. Yes, some will have multiple houses, yachts and/or horses chilling somewhere within their endless acres of land and sea. And yes, some will make remarks or comments that scream pomposity and pretentiousness to such an extent that the listener won’t know whether to simply squirm in their seats or to chunder violently on their Hunter wellies (oh wait, that’s right, only private school kids wear those…)

But how much of the stereotype around boujee people clouds our judgement on who they actually are? I fear the answer is rather a lot.

I, myself, have been classed as one of those "posh school kids" on pretty much a daily basis. As soon as I open my mouth to speak and my ripe old English accent comes out, as far as most people are concerned, that’s it.

There is nothing I can say or do to redeem myself or remove that label of "posh kid" or "pretentious twat". I came from the private school sector (shoot me), so yes, everything I have to say here might be biased, but it’s also a first-hand experience of how I’ve felt like people turn away and roll their eyes before I’ve had a chance to introduce myself.

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Wait, so not everyone has a castle like Windsor right next to their school?

Okay, so sometimes I don’t help myself. I may drop into casual conversation that I’ve met Will and Kate, but hey, that’s cool right? I mean, anyone would think that’s awesome. But just because I’ve met them, it doesn’t mean I called them to arrange discussing pleasantries over afternoon tea – they just happened to come to my village and I was lucky enough to meet them.

Or I might mention that I play polo (shocker, I know.) But again, it’s a sport that I enjoy just as anyone enjoys the sports they play. And just because I play polo it doesn’t mean I grew up with a stable full of horses when I was young, or that I just go for jollies every evening to the yard because I didn’t have my own horse – and I don’t go to the yard every day. I just picked up the sport because it’s basically hockey on horses and I just happen to think that is super awesome.

So, maybe I’m not really succeeding in trying to break the illusion that private school kids are posh snobs. But there's just so much more to people than we initially see, and when we limit ourselves to seeing the label that society has branded them with, then we limit ourselves to people we’re prepared to make an effort getting to know.

I may have met royalty and I may play polo, but that doesn’t mean I come from a wealthy family, it doesn’t mean I go on family shoots every weekend and it doesn’t mean that I’m just some private school kid who will refuse to get to know anyone without a signet ring or a Land Rover.

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It's not mine, I swear

I know there’s also some belief that "we" stay in our social circles and won’t mix with people outside the private school clique. But in fact, very few, if any, of my friends at uni went to private school.

I was lucky enough to mix with people who weren’t blinded by my accent and all the stigmas surrounding it, and who actually got to know me beyond the way I say "grass" or "bath". And yeah, they tease me about playing polo or wearing a tweed jacket, but they didn’t let the posh school stigma that society has created choose who they were going to be friends with – they chose that for themselves.

I’ll be the first person to admit that the stereotype is substantiated, but we can never break the stereotypes if we keep endorsing them.

So maybe next time, don’t roll your eyes or run away the instant you hear someone say "yah" or talk about their holiday houses. Give them a chance and they may surprise you. And besides, that holiday house might come in handy.