What do you complain about? I complain about work I have to do, the fact that my differential equations professor is very difficult to understand, Windows, allergies, and a plethora of other things. But does it make me feel any better? What’s the point of complaining? How much complaining is too much? Forgive me for leading you to believe that I’m actually going to answer these questions in this post; I just want to raise them for you to think about as I start to ramble about complaining.
Obviously, complaining can be a good thing sometimes. Sometimes complaining helps you to express and deal with frustration. For example, when my classmates and I commiserate about how God-awful our Ordinary Differential Equations class is, I’m venting frustration, but it also tells me that I’m not the only person having trouble in the class. When someone in my class who I know is an excellent student can’t even attempt one or two of the problems on the most recent assignment, I know not to beat myself up when I get to those problems and have trouble with them. That’s not to say that other people’s complaints allow me to be a slacker; maybe I’ll see the problems in a different light and actually be able to solve them, so it’s worth at least attempting them. But it helps to know that I’m not the only one having trouble.
However, complaining obviously has downsides as well. Too much complaining can make you feel worse. You can convince yourself that something is a bigger deal than it actually is, or make yourself believe that it’s ok to just ignore that problem, because it’s a stupid problem anyway, and no one should have to do that. To much complaining can lead to making excuses, feeling useless (in the face of the problem that you’ve just blown out of proportion,) and wasting a lot of time. But the truly difficult thing about complaining is that it’s addictive, because it does make you feel better. For example, if I give up on my ODE assignment without trying because I’ve complained about it so much that I couldn’t fathom finishing it, then I’ll have a really difficult time on the midterm, and I’ll complain about that. I’ll start complaining about the other assignments, all of which will seem much more difficult than they actually are, and the same effect that affected my midterm will wreak havoc on my final. (Brief moment of irony: as I’m writing this, I can hear a small child outside throwing a tantrum. I don’t know what he or she is crying about, but he or she is definitely pretending. Complaining starts at a young age.)
Now some of you are wondering, “He’s talking a lot about this ODE assignment… is he blogging instead of doing it?” The short answer is yes. I got so fed up with the ODE assignment that I closed it and everything relating to it, grabbed my computer, and went down to the kitchen for a change of scenery. But the important thing is that I’m going to go back. I think that there are solutions to most problems in the world. Maybe the solution isn’t easily achieved, but there usually is one. Sometimes, when there’s something you’re complaining about, it’s worth taking a break from it and trying to evaluate the situation from a more objective point of view.
Personally, I complain about things way too much. It’s a hard habit to break. If I could tell you how to stop complaining, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post; I’d be writing the manuscript for a self help book which I would mail to a publisher and retire at the ripe old age of 20. But I know part of the solution is to let the frustration go. It’s not always easy to do, but sometimes you can step back and say to yourself, “Whatever. I’ll just get through this, and I’ll go on with life. And if it doesn’t work out like I expected, it doesn’t work out like I expected; it’s not the end of the world.” Because, in the end, my ODE assignment doesn’t matter. What matters is learning the material, and I’m not complaining about learning the material; I like learning. So if I don’t do well on this one assignment (which is likely going to be the case,) I’ll go ask for help, and maybe I’ll lose a few percent off my final grade, but when it comes time to take the final, I’ll be ready.