On the art of grumbling: Complaining misses the mark this time of year

By: Sabrina Brown

Every year, there’s a particularly painful surge near the close of each semester. It begins right before Thanksgiving Break.

We think that if we just make it to Turkey Day with our families, we’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the last two or so weeks of classes have to throw at us.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s a lie.

We work through all the endless assignments up until Thanksgiving Break, only to find that we have two potentially more hellacious weeks ahead of us. We decide that if we can just push through the end of our semester’s courses, we’ll get to Winter Break and have a lovely, joyous three weeks at home, on vacation, whatever.

In reality, we’ll go home and sleep for the majority of our first three or four days off, melodramatically lamenting that we haven’t slept all semester, averaging only x number of hours per night.

It’s a rant we’ve practiced all semester, and each and every one of us is guilty of it. As college students, we feel that we are perpetually busier than anyone else around us, including other college students. We constantly bemoan the amount of work our professors assign, the club meetings we sign up for and the jobs we work in addition to classes.

It’s time for us all to shut the hell up.

We all need a chance to rant,. Trust me, I get that. But we shouldn’t let it overcome our four years here.

It is a privilege to get a college education, and I find that as a generation, we seem to forget about that.

In 2010, only 6.7 percent of the world held a college degree. That’s less than 7 percent of the population. If or when we graduate from Xavier, we will have a higher education than 93.3 percent of the world’s population. How fortunate are we?

There are countries all over the world where a high school education — or any schooling at all — would be an unimaginable opportunity, and here we are complaining that we have three papers due in a week. It takes the idea of ‘first world problems’ to a whole new level.

I’m not saying that college isn’t difficult. Of course it is. It’s intended to be. We are blessed with the opportunity to intellectually work ourselves to the bone. Beyond that, though, college affords us four years to figure out who we are and be responsible, mostly, to no one else but ourselves.

Most of us do not have families relying on our support; at most we have a cat living in our garage that expects to be fed regularly. No? Okay, that’s just my house.

College is a chance to be selfish, to enjoy four years where your biggest responsibilities are to your classes and maybe your rent. We do not get another time in our lives where we get to be this independent and self-centered. It makes college a privilege that extends far beyond just the education we receive.

Enjoy it.

There’s a love letter to college students that a friend of mine posts every semester around finals week.

One of my favorite lines reads, “It’s hard to believe that right now as you struggle to swallow every prefix in the dictionary or every literary term you’ll need to dissect that Emily D. poem tomorrow. But the closeness of friends in one place, the justified seeing of the sun coming up before you close a book and allow your bottom and top lids to mingle with one another again after a solid two weeks of Open & Awake, the 24/7 sweatpants apparel for at least two weeks… you’ll miss it when it is gone.”

Think back on your past finals weeks or “hell weeks.” What do you remember? You probably don’t remember the relationship between supply and demand, the intricacies of Shakespeare’s most famous plays or the complex workings of photosynthesis.

But I bet you remember who you studied it with, which of your friends you were up with writing papers until 2 a.m. You remember deciding that you simply couldn’t study anymore and making a last minute trip to Steak ‘n Shake or who you went to a basketball game with after you all survived finals. These are the memories that stick with us.

Sure, most of us will get degrees, learn what is necessary to use them throughout our lives and go on to be productive citizens. It’s not like our classes here don’t matter; we’ve already discussed that. People, however, matter just as much.

We get so caught up in simply getting to the next point in our lives — Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, graduation, marriage — that we forget to embrace the moment we’re in right here, right now.

There will always be another point to move towards, a new goal, but the opportunities we have now will be gone sooner than we’d like to admit, even to ourselves. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I propose a challenge for all of us, myself included. Instead of grumbling about and despising our busy lives, let’s embrace and enjoy them. This holiday season, let’s be thankful for our busy-ness, our stress and the privilege to be just that.

Sabrina Brown is a senior from Shelby, Ohio. She is the Editor-in- Chief of the Newswire and is majoring in English.