Hana Shafi A Toast To the Complainers*

Optimists of the world, I envy you. I envy you, but I want you to shut up sometimes. While I agree that complaining all the time is one of the most annoying things a person can do, it’s equally annoying to attempt to shut down someone’s complaint by saying something so generic as: “but there are starving kids in Africa!!!” Don’t think people actually say that line anymore? Think again; they may not use those exact words, but it’s always something of a similar gist. 

And considering the fact that almost every article I’ve written is a complaint of some shape or form, I’m here to stand up for the complainers of the world and say that ranting about your pet peeves, or having a temporary two minute freakout at the shittiness of your day does not automatically equal: ungrateful asshole who doesn’t care that they have money in their wallet and a roof over their head. Most of these complainers realize that they have things in their life that they take for granted, basic necessities that are practically luxuries to others. But what baffles me is this idea that comparing your life to the life of the most destitute, dejected, starving person will suddenly make you forget your woes.

Sadness, bad luck, frustration, like most other things in life, is relative. So while you might be thankful that you had three meals today, that’s not just going to suddenly stop you from complaining about being dumped, about having so much school stress you think you might implode, about whatever horrible combination of bad luck you’ve had throughout the week that just has you feeling exhausted and defeated. So to think that thinking of the worst possible things will suddenly make a person feel okay about the bullshit that’s happened to them is the equivalent of saying: “Okay, I’m sinking in student debt, my job is hell, and my girlfriend just broke up with me but at least I’m not dying. Now I feel loads better.” 

Of course your health and wellbeing are things to be thankful for and are things that are going to help put the more important things in your life in perspective over trivial instances of bad luck that won’t even matter in a week. But seriously enough with the “at least you’re not starving” shit. I’m completely aware that I’m not starving, having my home destroyed by drone attacks, or living in impoverished conditions in a refugee camp. I’m also completely aware that other people have to face hugely terrible struggles like that. But I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, being upset about something in your life does not necessarily correlate with being ungrateful.

So optimists of the world, thank you for encouraging me to see the silver lining, and wearing a big smile on my face, but every now and then, just let us complainers indulge in our rage-filled rants. We’ll have plenty to smile about when we can at least get our frustration off our chests without being guilt-tripped by some self-righteous criticisms.

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