I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while now, and I think I’m finally calm enough to collectively put my thoughts down without a plethora of exclamation marks.
Complaining is a very subjective term; something everyone knows isn’t the best thing to do, but something everyone, at the same time, needs to do in order to function and decrease some of the built up stress in their lives. There are also different levels of complaining, and different times and circumstances in which complaining is wholly justified and appropriate. Everyone goes through similar stresses and problems in their lives, and I completely understand that some of us have it worse than others. But there are also certain perimeters and limits to complaining and all of it’s concepts that I don’t think many people recognize.
Now, we’ve all heard this uttered after grumbling about something insignificant:
First World Problems
As applicable as that statement can seem to be, especially when someone whines about how their $5 cup of coffee has extra whipped-cream on it even though they specifically mentioned no whip, it’s a term I try and only use when 100% necessary. You see the United States, the only world I know, and subsequently all my peers know, is a first world. Everyone I’m surrounded with grew up living in a house, with clean water, and no major threat to their lives. And just as insignificant whipped-cream may be in the entirety of the world, in comparison to living in a rain forest or under the Juche, it’s still insignificant in our first world. There really isn’t any need to bring in the constant reminder that we, as United States citizens, are relatively lucky and don’t have any major threats to our lives. First World Problems is a phrase that tries to dilute our daily afflictions with the fact that other parts of the Earth are impoverished or going through a famine. As much as it should, it doesn’t really bring in any retrospective to anyone’s life, and no matter how many hungry kids there are in Africa, first world children still rather not finish the rest of their disgusting meatloaf.
Moving on from that, there are still so many issues I find with complaining. I’ve mentioned previously in some posts that people tend to overshare with me, and a lot of these things can come across as just blatant whining, however I think that if someone truly has a problem, especially in their home life, they should find someone appropriate to open up to. As much as I may make very sarcastic and vague comments with school friends about what I’m going through, I don’t feel like it’s okay for me to dump my entire life’s struggles unto them. There are specific times and people that I discuss my issues with, and sitting at a lunch table or before English class isn’t really the time or place to do so.
Now, I do have respect for those who say something along the lines of “I’m sorry, I’m just complaining” or another form of recognition for what they’re doing. I really appreciate that self awareness in their actions and it makes me less likely to form a potent sense of annoyance. I also don’t mind ranting and grumbling about life when it’s obviously an okay topic of discussion at the time. There are moments where I can tell people are really going through something, and I’ll flat out say that they’re not complaining in my eyes, and that I truly want to hear more and let them just talk about their stresses.
Another thing is when the problem starts to consume you, and you can’t seem to utter anything other than dissent on what’s bothering you. For example, if you have a headache, and it’s so bad it’s all you can focus on, I understand why you’d mention it. And I feel like it’s kind of human nature for this to happen, and it wouldn’t really be complaining. You see, complaining, or just mentioning these things is probably evolution trying to save your life, or the life of the group. If you have a headache that is so bad you can’t stand it, mentioning it to those around you may bring awareness on the subject if you were to just pass out all of a sudden. Having a weird, unsettling feeling may mean your group is about to get attacked by the Fire Nation, or some ghosts are about to spook things up. It’s in the entire gang’s best interest you mention this, and I wouldn’t really legislate this as “complaining”.
So, these would constitute as times wherein complaining is okay, and no one is going to resent the slightly discontented complainer.
However, there are some people who cannot distinguish what times are appropriate and when to
Just. Stop. Talking.
There is a girl in my lunch group who, without a doubt, without variance, will complain about her part time job. Every day. I have a sort of look I give one of my friends every time she starts talking about work, or just complains to complain. I’m beginning to feel it is the only look I make during that entire lunch period. And we’ve all made it pretty obvious that no one really wants to listen to her moan about her life every day. But will she stop? Never.
To her, it’s completely justified. To her, every time she complains, or what we perceive as complaining, she’s just making a passing comment about how tired she is. Or how much homework she has. Or how late she has to work. Or this. Or that. However, these are problems that everyone in the group is afflicted with, in one way or another. She views us as people who are cynical and don’t want to work to be granted things and opportunities. I’m sure she thinks I’m just a snarky girl who hates when people are handed things but won’t actually go out of my way to earn something. And as much as I try not to resent people who get handed everything, I sort of do. But I also have a job and I also work hard to get opportunities that wouldn’t even pass near me by chance. This girl, though, doesn’t know this because I don’t feel the need to mention all the 12 hour shifts I’ve had or all the 17 hour days I’ve spent at our school.
But, like I said, it isn’t just work she gripes about. It’s everything. And everyone in our little lunch group knows and deals with these exact problems. We’re all students. We all get homework, we’re all tired, we all think the senior project is bullshit. But these people rather talk about something productive, something with dense, than just sit round and collectively carp about our calamities.
Collectively carping about calamities is actually something that groups of people do and somehow find enjoyment in. I think the solidarity of having everyone understand the problems with a specific part of their life is comforting. Last year I’ve been in groups of people that do nothing other than sit round and complain about Advanced Placement United States History. Because that class was bullshit and I, proudly enough, had the lowest grade out of the entire school at that time. I failed that class like it was my job. And no one enjoyed it, and all anyone ever seemed to talk about was how awful it was.
But I really don’t understand how constantly talking about what an awful class it is helps anything. And whenever I hear this year’s students talk about it, which is all the time, I find myself getting really annoyed. Why only talk about something if everyone’s just going to end up angry? Why talk about something that’s never going to change and will have no effect on you in the grand scheme of things? If you know everyone feels the same way, and there’s no leeway of discussion, why even bring it up in the first place? People do this will all sorts of things, and for some reason it really bothers me. And I won’t lie, I’ve participated in it on some occasions, but it didn’t make me feel better. Knowing everyone is just as miserable as you doesn’t change anything. It just makes people more miserable and allows for them to find other aspects that are equally as grueling.
So my question is:
Whether you’re in a whole group of complainers, or you’re in a group with that one complainer, or you are that complainer… why? If you don’t have anything productive to say and nothing in your life is so extreme that you literally can’t not talk about it, then, just… why?
The weather is always going to be bad, your homework is always going to suck, your siblings will always be annoying, your teachers will always grade unfairly, you will always have a job and have to work long hours for minimum pay, you will always be a human with human problems.
If you can’t handle that without constantly talking about it, I’m sorry. But you’re a complainer. It’s inoperable. And it will spread. I suggest you take the time you have left on earth, and learn when to stop talking, when to appreciate the things you have. Feel free to take a leaflet on your way out. Good day.