When the answer to ‘how’s it going’ is ‘fine’

If there’s one thing that stresses me out more than anything, it’s the way people, particularly students, like to obnoxiously complain about how stressed out they are.

I realize that it doesn’t matter what someone’s problems involve — when they are in the middle of them, it always feels like a crisis. It’s natural that when those problems are yours, you want people to empathize with you in your time of “crisis” and tell you everything is going to turn out for the best.

This is perfectly normal and something any good friend or family member should be understanding of. What gets to me, however, is the when talking about one’s problems goes beyond the normal process of sharing; it becomes a competition of “who’s got it worse.”

I can’t understand how arguing that your problems are the worst problems succeeds in either making you less stressed out or solving the problems you are stressed out about. Secondly, I don’t understand how telling everyone about your problems, from your bus driver to your boss, accomplishes anything either. All the time you just spend whining about how bad you have it could have been spent figuring out how to make your situation better.

At the end of the day, the person who cares the most about how stressed out you are is you. True, your friends might care, your family might care and your significant other might care, too. But you have to remember, they have their own shit that they have to deal with, and would probably rather be dealing with, than listening to you talk about your problems.

I’m not saying that everyone should push down every urge to talk about their troubles. That’s how the majority of health problems happen! However, when you’re complaining into every ear that will lend you a minute, it’s time to tone it down.

As consuming as stress can be, the world still needs you to function. The woman selling you coffee doesn’t need to here about your dead grandma, she needs you to pay for your latte. Your coworkers don’t need to hear about your cold, they need you to do you job.

The act of obsessively venting our frustrations usually has the opposite effect you want it to. Instead of creating a sense of understanding of what you’re going through with those around you, it can create a sense of isolation. When you become so involved in your own problems, you forget that everyone has something that makes them just as troubled. Maybe if we stopped to think about how everyone else is coping with something too, we would find that life isn’t so overwhelming after all.