The Art of Complaining, Or Why I Am Happy And You Don't Know It

This is a fact about me: I complain a lot. I know this to be true. I complain about school and I complain about people and I complain about Facebook. I moan about badly made coffee and how my roommates don't buy milk and how I'll never find love.

I don't know why I do this.

I mean, I sort of know why. Complaining is part of comedy. Most comedians base their standup routines around complaining about something, whether it's racial problems or the weather or their family or politics. And there's nothing I've ever wanted more than for people to think I am funny, and so I mimic (badly) the methods of the masters.

I think I also do it because I find silence terrifying. It's awkward and uncomfortable and signals to me that the people around me are also awkward and uncomfortable, which means they don't like me and everything has gone terribly, terribly wrong. So talking about myself and my "problems" is an easy way to eliminate the silence and is (presumably) much less awkward than having to ask another person about themselves, which in turn might make them uncomfortable, and thus we begin the whole circle of torture all over again.

And I realize the irony of me complaining about how I much I complain, but it's truly the thing that bothers me most about myself (other than my double chin, if we're being honest. The camera is a harsh mistress). It's like a reflex, a natural impulse that I've practiced for so long that I can't get it out of my system. Negative noise is a disease, and I'm not sure what I can do to cure it, except maybe spend a week playing with kittens and then planting a tree and baking muffins to share with the neighbourhood children and rounding it all off with a game of skipping on the playground.

But what bothers me the most about my Negative Nancy language is that it's not an accurate portrayal of how I feel.

I've written before about my belief in the power of both the spoken word (here, here, and here). We create meaning, we form knowledge and establish connections with other people when we speak. When we engage in conversation, our words help other people shape an understanding of who we are, and who they are in relation to us.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, it's all quite complex.

So for the record: I am happier right now, in this place and with my people near and far and doing what I am, than I have been in a very, very long time. My soul is at peace.

And as for all of my complaining... Ugh. I wish I had the courage to sit out silences, confident that the stillness does not mean the undoing of relationships. I wish I had the courage to tell people honestly and directly how happy they make me, and what it is about them that I admire. I wish I was brave enough to listen to others' stories without feeling like I become less important.

And so, as with everything else, let's just say it's a work in progress.

Current book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
Current TV series: Scrubs season 1
Current nail colour: OPI's "OPI...Eurso Euro" and ""


The Merry Onion said…
We're each a work in progress until the day we die. :)
Anonymous said…
I miss you, sitting in a comfortable yet ugly green armchair, sharing your in and outsights with the world both at small and at large. I miss the carefree days of carefree speculation and carefree papers, free of responsibility, herpes, and other academically transmitted diseases. (Mostly I was afraid of herpes-- imagine wearing an STD on your face! Double OMG, yk?)

I'm sure I'll have more to say as time goes on, but inclination to do it. Get your leg bitten off by a whale soon, while it's still tax deductible!

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