RED HEADED RANT: Think Before you Whine

My sophomore year, before Jane magazine was eaten up by the glossy ad beastie, Glamour, I read a smart article about ways to stop taking your life for granted. One piece of advice I remember was that when feeling stressed, one should rephrase, rethink and say, "I feel challenged." The quote became a running joke between my roommate and me. Working through a dense biology lab report on the floor of our double, stumbling through vast amounts of reading with Sunday morning hangovers, fighting colds and the urge to languish away hours on Facebook—I feel challenged. About to pass out in warrior three during Power Yoga or cramming for a doomsday final—I feel challenged.Though made fun of by my roommate and me, the phrase, and my inability to take it seriously, lingers. When I feel like thesis is sucking my soul out through a tiny straw or when I look at the reading I have to do for a week, all I want to do is wail.  I wonder what happened to that spunky freshman who would see it all as a challenge, not a chore. When did I lose perspective? Besides those freakish perpetual optimists around here who really do seem to live in smiley-unicorn-bunny-cupcake-rainbow world, it's often difficult to really put mind over matter. A good amount of whining seems inherent in our college culture. Maybe it's become habit, a form of catharsis or a bonding mechanism, but somewhere along the way we do stray into fulfilling the stereotype of bratty princesses that some have tried to place onto our women's college community. We whine when the dining hall runs out of freshly baked, warm chocolate chip cookies, and then whine when we can only have two. We whine that it's too cold in the Humanities building, expecting the sunshine to follow our sundresses to class. We whine when our email accounts shut down for a few hours, when a text doesn't go right through.  Some of us whine when our soy chai latte from the Motley is so not soy and Closet Couture accidentally sends us sevens when we wanted eights. I whine when I eat an entire bag of Trader Joe's Pirate's Booty and there's no more Pirate's Booty. If you YouTube ‘Everything's amazing, nobody's happy,' you'll get an exchange between two of my fellow sassy gingers, Conan O'Brien and Louis CK, on the topic of what we take for granted. O'Brien's red pompadour bobs as he asks CK, "do you think we take technology for granted?" CK doesn't even blink: "Well yeah, because now we live in an amazing, amazing world, and it's wasted on the crappiest generation of just spoiled idiots who don't care." We aren't idiots and I'd hardly call us the crappiest generation. But spoiled? Probably. We have internet floating around our orange-blossom- perfumed, green lawns, we have tea on Wednesday afternoons, snuggly common rooms and dorms like palaces. Our professors are incredible and we spend our time reading instead of engaging in manual labor to simply survive. Sometime after I read the "I feel challenged," article sophomore year, my computer crashed, my Volvo's battery went dead and I was plodding through Naomi Wolf's "The Beauty Myth" with a newly alighted feminist rage. I called my father to complain and be consoled for my woes, but he wasn't having any of it. "You should be glad you have a computer that crashes, a Volvo that can die and a cushy spot in college where your time is spent reading those kinds of books," he said. "Your problems are good problems to have." Parents are never good receptacles for a solid whine. What my father said seemed so simple, but I still had to write it down on a Post-It note and keep it tacked to my bulletin board at eye level in order to remember—my problems are good problems to have. Your problems, your workload, your 2% milk chai latte, these are all good problems to have. I'm not saying you have to jump up right now, throw this issue of voice into the air and run around "It's a Wonderful Life"-style embracing all the glories around you. Hello you old Denison library! Merry Christmas Professor Peavoy! But taking a moment to shift your perspective couldn't hurt. As finals and deadlines begin to creep in and juniors come in and claim my room as their own for next year (before I'm even gone!), trying to rise to the occasion is better than sinking beneath it. Get your whine on if you must, but first try to think of a better use of your voice.