Complaining helps contribute to our everyday interactions

It is the start of another week. You groan as you crawl out of your bed and moan as you slide into your first lecture of the week, which happens to be an 8 a.m. As you attempt to stimulate conversation with the other “Monday haters” around, you word vomit all the complaints in your head. 

You hate your roommate, you are tired from walking around campus, you don’t like the professor and you can’t believe you actually like the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Okay, maybe you don’t go that far.

My point is, we use complaints as icebreakers in conversations nowadays. We start a conversation with a negative observation because we know that will get us a bigger response than saying something positive would. 

As strange as it sounds, sometimes complaining is good. To be completely honest, I am a huge advocate of complaining and ranting about the day. Expressive complaints let you get something off your chest and can be healthy, provided you feel better once you get the complaint out. But the downside is some people abuse expressive complaining to grumble incessantly with no real interest in dialogue, problem solving or human connection.

At a large school, venting helps us feel less alone and less guilty about the issues and situation we go through every day. But it also shapes how others perceive us. When your lab partner moans about their 12 plus hours of homework the night before they might be trying to convince you that they are important and want to be valued.

In our society, we’re supposed to smile and have a nice day and pretend that everything’s okay, even when in reality, that could be very far from the truth. It is important to tell your friends and the people around you when you’re upset or unhappy—if you don’t, you end up alone with confused friends who don’t know why you are upset. But like most everything in life, you don’t want to lean towards the other side and become “the complainer” of your friend group. 

Bad complainers are annoying at best, depressing at worst. They spread negativity and give griping a bad name. But if you really need to complain, go ahead. For most of us, behind the grousing is the basic human need of finding a personal connection.

It seems ironic that I am complaining about people complaining too much. This weekend I was given a wake-up call when my friends visited from my hometown. While it was easy to give all the reasons why Madison is the best college, I found myself giving little side comments how this or that  “sucked”. It wasn’t until I saw my friends in awe over all the opportunities possible on campus that I realized how great I have it. Even the food at Dejope was given high praise and appreciation.

What I don’t understand is how it took people who don’t go to Madison to tell me how lucky I am to go to Madison. As a freshman, I am told by upperclassmen how I am lucky to begin my four year journey at this university, and I am finally beginning to realize how great my love is for Madison.

With that being said, I still will complain about my 8 a.m. on Mondays and how Dejope doesn’t serve food till midnight, and how I will avoid walking up Bascom at all costs. But, I will take the time to appreciate everything the University of Wisconsin-Madison has to offer, even if the winter does totally suck.

Lilly is freshman opinion columnist for The Daily Cardinal. Tell us how you feel and please send all of your feedback to

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