(Image courtesy of Salon.com)
Nothing has made me as grateful to have the life that I do as the negative experiences I’ve had lately. This may sound odd at first, but there’s nothing that gets me thinking about how good I have it as when I have a ‘bad’ day. This is due to the fact that the things that constitute a bad day for me are laughably minuscule, and I am well aware of that. So you had to park far away from your destination, so the line was long at Starbucks, so the building needs to crank up the A/C a little more – those are all ‘bad’ things from the perspective of an extremely privileged person.
That privilege is not something to be ashamed of. I have struggled to be vulnerable in a space with others because the triviality of my problems makes it feel inappropriate to share them. The resulting resistance to open up with those around you is, firstly, unfair to those who have shared something personal, and secondly, reinforces a feeling of shame surrounding your privilege, which is far from the best way to handle it. So if you’re not supposed to feel ashamed about it, then what’s a better response?
Be aware of it.
That’s it. That’s the first step to not be a total jerk to everyone around you. If you feel uncomfortable sharing something about yourself because you feel that it will make you sound privileged, first realize that if you’re having such thoughts that’s a luxury in itself and you probably are privileged. Secondly, try to think deeper about yourself. In the particular experience I am speaking of, I realized hours later there were several things I could have shared with my peers that were not nearly as superficial as my initial thoughts. Someone else in the same situation might have a similar problem. How often in our busy lives do we have time to stop and consider the deepest reasons as to why we are the way we are? Unfortunately, self-reflection can easily get pushed aside.
If you’ve taken the time to reflect on the foundation of who you are, and are still unsure of how to communicate the answers to someone else without sounding like a spoiled brat – use that awareness. Teach yourself how to use mindful language, so that the next time your instinct is to complain about the line at Starbucks you have the foresight to take a step back, take a deep breath, and just be thankful that the worst thing that happened to you today is that you had to wait ten minutes for your latte.
Next time you have a bad morning/day/afternoon/night, allow yourself a second to be thankful that the experiences that made it ‘bad’ were hardly bad at all.