Pet Peeves and The first world

Well, my family has moved into our new place.

I have now realized we are officially poor, by Western standards. By most standards, we’re still well off.

We are living with one of our relatives, a thing not looked highly upon in this day and age. But we had no choice.

And as you all know, being around the extended family (or the immediate family) has its pros and cons.

(This is not a complaining post. I just want to ask a few questions.)

The first one is: What are your pet peeves?

What does it even mean to have a pet peeve? I’ve never like that term. A pet is something you fondle, cuddle, take care of, etc.  A peeve is something that makes you irritated; or, possibly, angry or nervous. Why would someone put those two things together?

Second: What are first world problems?

The new phrase we’ve invented for our minor difficulties is first world problems. I’ve heard it said that we invented it to hide how spoiled we privileged people are. I see this phrase as more of a joke than anything else. Seriously? When your internet is slow, or your phone is hard to handle, or some other such nonsense; you mock your problem by using a term that basically says: “I live in a country that’s one of the better off ones, all my physical needs are met, but I’m so bored with my life that I’m going to call this small difficulty the problem of living my privileged existence.”

It’s been a thing in books and movies to shine a different light on the lives of the rich and famous, or just rich and spoiled. Because of that trend I’m sure we’re all at least familiar with the idea that money doesn’t make you happy, and luxury can wear on you. But apparently we’re all the rich and famous to people in third world countries, having been to one, the impression I got from what we were told is that they see us all as very rich and important people, who are suckers for buying stuff in the market place.

I spent several days there not having access to the internet, or to drinking water from a cup, or calling my family, using restrooms without soap or toilets that flush at the turn of a lever. I went everywhere in a group. I worked. And I felt the least inclination to complain of any time I’ve been on a new experience. Part of that was a choice, I didn’t want to be a wet blanket. Part of it was realizing what ridiculous luxury I was in, even  in Cambodia. A lot of money was spent on our small group, and a lot of effort put into giving us a good time. I expected pretty meager accommodations, but I got as good as any I’ve gotten here in America the few times I’ve stayed at hotels.

Now, I’m going to list a few of my pet peeves, just to make a point.

  1. Any unusual sounds at night, any talking or loud music while I’m trying to sleep, that has driven me crazy many a night.
  2. Being bossed around constantly.
  3. Being teased about my personality.

There, those are three things I had to deal with on my trip. And I managed to put up with all of them, and adapt. The first one doesn’t bother me half as much since I came back, which is good because moving means different noises.

The truth is, it’s not helpful to label anything your pet peeve. Whether it’s a first world problem, or a problem with clashing personalities, because when you do that, you give yourself permission to notice it and be annoyed every time. I don’t think any of us need encouragement to look for annoyances in our lives.

This is what I’ve found helps me best: When something irritating happens and it tries your patience, first; hold your tongue–complaining usually just makes it worse or annoys that people around you.  Second; shake it off–forget it as soon as you can, the less you dwell on it the better. Third; don’t start thinking that this always happens, or always will. I know, I still slip into this one myself, but it’s not a good way to think. Fourth; laugh about it, just about every annoyance has a humorous side to it, if you are willing to not take your own minor problems too seriously. Fifth; look for a good thing about every situation. every cloud really does have silver lining.

I hope everyone understands that I am still talking about minor things that go wrong, not catastrophes. And with that , here’s a final bit of advice. Do not make everything a big deal. One of Disney Channels’ most liked characters, Kim Possible, has a catch phrase that she uses whenever she does something that she sees as not all that stressful, “So not the drama.” Often this is funny because Kim does things no one else can do. But it’s a good principle, when you know you can handle it well, then don’t turn on the drama.

I need this post as much as anyone, I need reminders to try to keep up a positive attitude when the pressure is on. So to all of us: until next time–Natasha.

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