(Doesn't this bed look so inviting?)
I was talking with a friend the other day, another blogger, and we were lamenting the state of our schedules. "I can't go to this Blogger Meetup in SF because I have to go to the gym!" "I can't go to a baby shower because I have to be in Vegas!" "I can't do my laundry because I have to take outfit photos!" and then we both (online) turned to each other and said, Wow. First world problems, amirite?
Though that hashtag became a bit of a flash in the pan phenomenon (if you don't know what I'm talking about, go to Twitter and search #firstworldproblems. And then cry a little inside at the pics of teenagers driving Maseratis.) the sentiment is true. My biggest problems are blessings-not-even-in-disguise: I have a job I have to get up earlier for so I can take the conveniently located shuttle; I have too many book clubs in which to participate with my friends; I have the physical capability to go to the gym after work, even when I don't want to; and, poor me, people want me to knit more things for my Etsy shop. Really, life's tough for Maddy.
So here's the part where it gets confusing for me: my problems are not the same as that of someone living in Malawi struggling for clean water and malaria nets, but they are still mine to take care of.
(Ok, confession, I don't know if water & malaria are the main problems plaguing Malawi right now, let me look it up for Blog Accuracy... According to Wikipedia - cut me some slack I'm doing this on the shuttle to work - Malawi has a hell of a lot of problems including HIV/AIDS rates and infant mortality and foreign aid has substantially been decreasing since 2000. So, that's something we should all think about. Start writing to your Congresspeople! Although apparently they're not doing much of anything either these days? Now I'm lost in my own post.)
What was my point? Yes! My life is not hard. Alright, well Googling Malawai first thing in the morning is a good way to send that point home. But the real point I'm trying to make is that everyone has their own problems. My problems just happen to be someone else's best case scenario; my problems pale in comparison with even those of other American citizens, even those of people living in San Francisco in the cold, trying to find decent shelter for the night where they know they won't be accosted or injured. But I still get frustrated that the grocery store closed earlier than I expected it to, and I couldn't get the food for dinner I wanted. I get saddened at conversations with friends that don't go the way I'd like. I get hangry (hungry-angry) when I've had a long day and haven't eaten well. I get overwhelmed thinking about all of the blog and social media related things I have to do in one week to keep up with my shop, blog, and internship. These are all things that don't even compare to the problems for some people, but they are my reality. Am I a horrible person for being upset when these things happen? Obviously more serious things have come up in my life, but I'm talking about these daily conflicts. These (hashtag) "first world problems."
I would like to think I have a good enough attitude that I can quell my upset-ness at these small life trials, but sometimes I feel silly even getting upset at all. And then I think, that's even sillier - I might not be fighting off malaria but I am still a person going through this life the best she can, and sometimes things get to me. Sometimes I have to suck it up, but sometimes I get to feel my feelings. Everyone does!
It's a delicate balance, trying to allow yourself the emotional freedom to complain about your life's hardships while keeping it all in perspective. If I complain to someone that I have to do laundry and I'm not getting home until 10pm, and then I have to set up blog posts and pay taxes on my Etsy sales, is that just bougie complaining? Or is it justified to say that those things make my life a little more hectic for that day? Maybe that's a small example, but I think there is validation in acknowledging the things that make your life more stressful or exhausting - we all have things that make our days longer and that test our endurance - and that it is normal and fine to be upset at these things. Problems are all relative, but each person's problems are still her own to handle, and I would never begrudge someone the emotional catharsis of ranting about her problems for a bit. Especially when that person is me!
The trick is to also acknowledge, at least within yourself, that someone out there has it worse. That staying up until 1am writing blog posts, for the blog I have on the side of my great job and my Etsy shop and my relationships and my gym time, is not the hardest thing I will ever do. Nor is it the hardest thing going on in the world at 1am. So I can say, "Oh I'm so exhausted, I have all these things to do" - but I should also be appreciative of the fact that I am able to do these things. I would like to be able to remember that my lack of sleep these days (how many times can I bring this up in one post?) is because of the fullness of my life, of the diversity of the blessings I have, and the opportunities I am being given right now.
Then again, there are still times I find it hard to be so grateful and it all wears on me and I just end up looking like this: Except less cute, because I'm not a bunny.
What do you think about all of this, should we always be remembering that others across the world have it worse or is it okay to get upset at the things that make your own life harder? I'd love to hear your thoughts.