Making the most out of your frustrations

So I have some bad news for you: in your life there will always be people that frustrate you. This rude awakening came to me a few weeks ago when I decided that I wanted to start a coat collection for the homeless on State Street and someone on my floor stole the collection bin and everything in it that had been donated.

For a while I was incredibly angry. I was trying to do something I really thought would help this community and someone decided to be selfish or mocking or cruel and stole everything. I rarely get angry so when I do I become very livid very fast.

I started scrawling messages on our hallway whiteboard. First I tried to shame him/her by writing a message about how he/she lives in a dorm with central heating and stole outerwear from people that have no heating at all. Then I wrote a message pleading with them to return everything they stole. And finally I tried to intimidate them by writing messages daily saying I wouldn’t stop writing on the whiteboard until they returned everything.

Obviously none of that worked and I was naive for thinking it would. But then I remembered a quote I saw once that I have since quoted to probably a dozen friends when they are frustrated: “turn your expectation into appreciation and the world becomes a better place.” Why was I wasting my time on being angry when instead I could have been appreciative to the people who originally had donated to my bin along with my House Fellow and several floor mates who told me they were sorry and frustrated as well when everything got stolen.

I then realized that I should be thanking this thief instead of indicting them because, even though they did something that still makes my blood boil, they taught me something valuable. They taught me what kind of person I do not want to be. They put me in a position I would never want to put anyone else in and learning that was worth something.

I then started to adopt this thinking in all my frustrations. I have recently sent out some emails asking professors for advice or information and haven’t gotten emails back until weeks later. I’ve even had to email professors three or four times to remind them to get back to me. This happens to me often and frustrates me greatly but it has taught me that I never want to be a person who needs to be reminded multiple times to reply to an email. After experiencing this throughout college I have become someone who really prioritizes dependability. I’ve become a person who always emails back immediately or at least within the day and I now have the peace of mind knowing that I don’t make people feel the frustration they make me feel. Maybe I can’t change other people’s behavior, but I can use it to influence the kind of person I want to be and that makes my frustration worthwhile.

I once had a teacher who never gave A’s. The highest grade he gave was a B+ and I had him several times. This frustrated me a lot because, rather than feeling motivated, which was probably the intent, I just felt hopeless. As hard as I tried in the class I could never get an A and always felt invalidated when I got my grades. I knew I never wanted to make anyone feel invalidated like that. I always wanted to reward people for what they accomplished. And I believe I do. This past summer I taught second grade summer school and I made sure to always reward my students for good work they did and I think it really helped them learn more effectively. Even though that teacher frustrated me he helped me understand the kind of teacher and person I wanted to be and that was worthwhile.

I’ve also had some professors that just downright scare me and the idea of going to talk to them one on one terrifies me. I don’t think I could scare anyone if I tried but this has definitely made me conscious of how I come off to other people. I now know that I never want people to find me unapproachable. I want to be a person who anyone feels they can talk to and I am positive that I have achieved this and then some because three men recently came up to me on the street when I had a sprained ankle and it was in a boot and asked me if they could pray to my foot because they believed that could will miracles to happen and I looked like someone who “deserved a miracle.” I am sure there was a lot more going on there than me being an approachable person but I at least think that was part of it.

Don’t let the people get you down. A wise woman once said, ‘Cuz the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate; I’m just gonna shake shake shake shake shake shake it off.” And she is right. Haters, in fact, gonna hate, but do not shake it off. Embrace it and allow the haters to enlighten you. I really do believe that turning your expectation into appreciation it makes the world a better place. Take it from Pinterest.

Dana is a junior majoring in theatre. What do you do to channel your frustrations? Email us at opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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