Stop the Complain Game

Andrew Vojt

Sit back and relax, because I’m going to tell you all of the things I had to do for

Tuesday. I had to first write a 20-page paper, edit all of my section’s articles for this issue, endure three hours of work and then cry in a corner after watching the finale of “How I Met Your Mother,” which purely disappointed me. I am super busy and every single part of my life is consumed by something I am obliged to do. Woe is me!

Such ramblings, give or take the specifics, have been the main topic of at least one conversation of every student’s week. It’s absurd how often I hear people talk about how busy they are or how much work they have due the next day. I won’t lie – I’ve done this myself from time to time, but it comes to a point where we strive to one-up each other, trying to prove that your involvement and busyness makes you more of a sympathy case than your friends. The optimist in me screams at this. On one hand, it pains me to see that friends try to undermine each other by competing for the title of busiest bee. We get a sense of satisfaction for being able to flaunt how involved and talented we are, which doesn’t make much sense if you’re complaining about it. While it’s great to be involved, if the only reason you are doing all these things is to boast about how involved you are, then it’s probably not for the right reasons. Everyone at Colgate is busy with something in different ways, and we know this, but we still see friends trying to guilt trip each other. It creates an unhealthy dynamic, especially if you’re trying to diminish that guilt by turning the tables on your friend.

It’s even worse when we then laugh at our own lack of productivity. If you’re binge-watching Netflix and complaining about your work, leave the moodiness at the door. Conversations like this make me want to go back to a time where we actually talked about things that made our friendship strong or just gave us a few laughs; did I really just wish to go back to high school?

From these conversations I observe a general sense of negativity. Even if students are

trying to one-up their friends, they are doing so by moping and complaining. Overall, students are harping about something that makes them unhappy. This is where cognitive framing comes into play. For the non-psychology majors out there, framing essentially is maintaining a certain cognitive perspective that influences how your perceive information, outcomes, etc. Negative information is seen as negative purely because we think it so. If you have the desire to complain to your friend about how much work you have, it might be because your perception of that amount of work causes you unhappiness, prompting you to try to gain sympathy from your friend. To fix this problem and save my sanity when I’m at Frank, simply think about problems in a different way to increase levels of happiness. In the end, you don’t have to feel bad putting off work and binge-watching Netflix, because you’re doing something else that makes you happy.

Cognitive framing is easier said than done, but those that don’t want to put in the effort to not let their work ruin their fun need to realize that it is okay to be busy and okay to be behind. I’ll throw the clich?e alert on right now: college is the four years of your life where you have the most freedom, minus societal norms and having to graduate. It is a time to make mistakes and be the person you want to be. Clich?es aside, the most important thing is to be happy, and if you’re complaining about being busy, chances are you’re not happy. So why not improve that? Whether it is through the power of thought or putting off assignments to down some shots at the Jug, we save ourselves a great deal of stress in the process. Acknowledging actions that give you happiness makes the sometimes unbearable amounts of work we have to do sometimes worth it, and as a result, we can stop looking for sympathy from friends and focus on the positives. Even just telling yourself good will come from doing all of your work may do the trick.

Contact Andrew Vojt at [email protected]