Sweetgreen was closed for renovations for roughly a week and a half at the beginning of this semester. I complained for two weeks. When I went last night and the line was long, I complained louder. And don't forget the car alarm going off on Locust late last night—I woke up complaining. My very first words this morning were, "I don't deserve this." I start every conversation with some kind of grumble: I'm too warm, I'm not warm enough, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I have so much work, and did I mention that my shower ran cold today?
I'd like to think of myself as a pretty self–aware person. Not all of the time, of course, but for the most part. I truly believe being self–aware is one of the most meaningful traits a person can have (I'm humble too), but it also means that I can see my flaws, plain as day. I know how I come off to other people and I know the effect it has when every single word out of my mouth is whiney or otherwise singularly awful. My complaining once got so bad that my boyfriend designated his shoulder a "Complaining Shoulder," on which I would lean when I just really couldn't resist the urge to bitch for an hour. Truly, enabling at its finest.
This isn't going to be a letter instructing you to take a step back, be appreciative, check your damn privilege. I don't like that kind of rhetoric. It's okay to be bothered by the small stuff. I am saying, however, that it isn't okay to be perpetually dissatisfied—and then to simply stew in your dissatisfaction. There is always action to take and there's always a conversation to initiate, the opportunity to do something productive instead of squandering time and energy with meaningless whining. This week's issue is about taking action into your own hands. It's about making your Penn experience meaningful, despite uncontrollable forces (pg. 12). It's about taking ownership of your body (pg. 4). And it's about taking advantage of, ahem, the small pleasures in life (pg. 9).
Action, that's what I'm aiming for this week. Productive action over meaningless words. It's a small victory to take the little things in stride, but a victory all the same.
Although to be fair, the car alarm was really, really loud.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.