I get it. As cliché as this sounds, life isn't easy for college students. Our stress levels are usually high. We have moments of crisis as we try to balance our academics, social life, extracurriculars, and much more. Additionally, we have to deal with the many curve balls that life throws at us whether that be in the form of issues with our families, finances, or friendships. I've been there, and sometimes it feels like the world is against us.
Not only is it difficult dealing with all of these hardships, but finding a way to cope with them can be tough. One of the ways that a lot of us cope is to complain or vent about things that are bothering us. I know how good it feels to complain, and truthfully, it's a release that a lot of us need. Sometimes you need to express how you feel, and letting it out, as opposed to keeping it bottled up, is probably healthier.
While I don't have an issue with students who express what's bothering them, I do have a problem with students who use every minor discomfort in their lives as an opportunity to complain (as if the world is about to end).
Now, I could easily have made this article one that just bashes people who dramatically complain all the time, specifically about things that I believe to be trivial. I'm not going to do that because it would be counterproductive. Instead, I'm going to try a few things. Firstly, I'm going to explain why I think we, as college students, complain as much as we do. Secondly, I'm going to give some instances of what I consider to be trivial and overly dramatic complaints. Finally, I'm going to explain why I believe complaining so much is detrimental and offer a way to cut down on this.
When it comes to complaining, at least for college students, I think there are two reasons why we do it so much: connection and culture.
When I mention the idea of connection, I'm referring to a desire, by most people, to relate with one another. Wanting to connect doesn't mean that we strive for everyone to be our best friend, or that we want to talk to every person we come in contact with, but within certain situations, we want to be recognized. What easier way to connect with people than to complain about something? Anything can become a complaint, whether that be a class, a teacher, what they served at a dining hall, the way a chair squeaks, the way some kid looks, and so much more. It's super easy to complain, and that's why I think a lot of people do it in the context of conversations. Once you complain about something, anyone has the opportunity to pile onto your complaint with their own.
Now the ease of complaining and wanting to form connections with your fellow students is what I believe has led to a culture of complaining.
When it comes to culture, I'm talking about an environment, in this case on college campuses and social media platforms, like Twitter, where it has become common practice to complain frequently. Now, this may not seem like a big deal but think about the implications of complaining so much.
Firstly, by complaining so much, I believe that we blur the lines between what is and isn't a serious issue. In other words, by voicing our minor discomforts and complaining about them in an overly dramatic way, we begin to equate smaller problems with the same importance as a more serious one. For instance, here are some of the complaints that I've heard in the past month on campus. These should give you a pretty good understanding of what I mean by complaint about a minor issue that is overly exaggerated.
"Ugh, I have to do a lab report for my lab class, and I wanna kill myself."
"Wow, we have to do a citation at the end of our paper, like that's so extra."
"I can't believe our teacher emailed us the day of saying we don't have class anymore because she's sick. Like I could literally be laying in bed right now."
"This school is so boring, like there's nothing to do here. Who even has time to look for a club?"
"What the hell, that's not gonna be on the final? Why did we even learn that?"
"If the teacher is going to show up five minutes late, she might as well have not shown up. Like why give me hope of you not being here."
Some of these are absolutely ridiculous and hilarious when you say them out loud. Now, before anyone starts freaking out on me, I understand that saying stuff like this can be a joke. However, I've gotten to the point where complaining about every discomfort in your life is not funny anymore.
Not only do smaller issues get blown out of proportion, but I think that complaining about everything just brings in more negativity to an already rough college experience. I genuinely believe that whatever energy you give the world is the same energy you get back. Not only are you bringing negative energy upon yourself by complaining about everything, but you're projecting that negative energy towards those that are around you, too.
Now, it would be disingenuous to pretend like I have a fool-proof solution to this problem. The truth is, I don't. However, I've managed to diminish the frequency and exaggeration of my complaints based on something my grandfather taught me, and I figured I'd end the article with his advice.
His advice, plain and simple, is to think before you speak.
In other words, if you find yourself about to complain, stop for a second and think about what you're about to say. Consider if your complaint is about something serious or a knee jerk reaction to a minor discomfort. Think about if your complaint is something that can lead to a constructive conversation or just adds more negativity to everyone's life. By taking a moment to think, not only could you prevent yourself from complaining about something trivial, but you give yourself extra time to come up with a solution for whatever your problem might be.