First World Problems and what to do about them

Maybe you’ve seen it on Twitter, maybe you’ve seen it on Instagram, heck maybe you’ve even seen it on Facebook: #firstworldproblems. The problems that we have living in developed, first world countries, where quality of life is good, war and conflict are non-existant, and we are treated equally. The problems that we think turn our world upside down, but really, in the grand scheme of things, are just lemons to make lemonade with. The problems that, in retrospect, make you think that good old Scottish phrase of “Get a grip of yourself!”

Like the tattoo says

Like the tattoo says

Today, I had a first world problem kinda day. It started when I got out of the car at work, and ripped my pants (trousers). There was already a tiny rip, so small that I thought I could get away with it until the weekend, when I would buy a replacement pair. That was unfortunately not in the cards, and the rip, high up on my right, inner thigh, got bigger. I thought I could at least get away with it for the school day, then buy a new pair on the way home from work, but this was not in the cards. Just before lunch time, getting ready to leave with a class, I ripped them again, and the hole grew from my inner thigh to my rear thigh. It was too noticeable, and therefore, inappropriate. I needed a solution immediately! I went into town (because my school is in the middle of the countryside, set in the woods – picturesque really), and bought a new pair of pants without any hassle. Or so I thought. I had changed into the new pants in the store, and asked the kind sales assistant girl to throw out my old ones, (which she did, so nice!), and then I headed back to work. Little did I know that I had left the key to my locker, which houses my wallet, mobile phone and car keys while I work, in the old pants! I couldn’t go back to get the key because afternoon classes were about to start, so I called the store and asked them to retrieve the key from the pants. Which they did, thankfully.

I didn’t get a lunch break, nor time to get any work done; add that to an already stressful term with massive changes to the Scottish seconday curriculum,  increasing workload demands, Christmas show preparations, last minute assessments, #RWrunstreak, and some less-than-ideal off-task behaviour from some of the angels I teach, and this made for a very frazzled Danielle. In a nutshell, I felt like this:

I got home late because I had to go into town to get that locker key, then head back to work to pick up my mobile phone, then head home. I had already had a mini breakdown at school, but my amazing colleagues were there to listen. I got home to a husband who had made dinner, who was willing to listen to me vent, and who wanted to do whatever it took to make me feel better again. I vowed to never be one of those women who always praised their husband, but when you’ve got a good one, you want to tell everyone 🙂

Pat asked me “What would Nelson Madela do?” because we had watched his memorial service last night, but also to make a point. If Nelson Mandela can forgive and move forward despite the many hardships he faced, surely I could get over my day of hell, right? I said “He would forgive.” While this isn’t necessarily a case of  forgiveness, I can take my ‘hardships’ and look at them in a different way, from a different perspective.

I ripped my pants and had to buy new ones fast.

At least you had money to buy them and a car to take you there.

I missed my lunch.

At least you have a lunch; some people, including children, don’t have that luxury every day.

I left the locker key in the pants, in the store.

At least you had possessions you thought were important enough to lock up.

I had to go back and forth, back and forth between the town and work today.

At least your colleague that you carpool (lift share) with was totally okay with it, listened to you vent, and made you laugh.

I had a little cry at work today.

At least you had three awesome colleagues there to listen to you, offer their help, and make you feel better.

The same colleagues that bought my this shirt for Christmas

The same colleagues that bought my this shirt for Christmas

There’s too much work to do and no time.

At least you have a job, and a head of Education and principal teachers that value what you do so give you additional responsibilities because they know you can do it.

Some of my students seemed like they couldn’t care less about what they’re doing in school.

But most of them did, and they had really good periods with you. So much so that they made you laugh and smile, and made you proud to be their teacher because they were working hard, making positive contributions to discussions and being creative. You also had one boy achieve a qualification and he was so happy. Your students have helped you learn so much about dealing with difficult and cryptic behaviours, and in the process, you have become an even stronger, even braver person.

I just want it to be December 20th already! (also known as the last day of school before the holiday)

At least you get both Christmas and the New Year off.  And you’re going to Germany for it to see family and friends.

All fair points, all different ways of looking at a situation, all turning negatives into positives. This is what we need to do, all the time. It’s not easy, and on a physiological level, it’s a difficult feat in the heat of the moment when your brain is flooded with cortisol (the stress hormone) that prevents us from thinking with our logical brain and only with our emotional brain,  (ever wonder why, when you’re emotional, you don’t think rationally? This is the reason). I’m fortunate to have a supportive, understanding and mellow yogi-husband, as well as some pretty awesome colleagues I consider friends.

So the next time you have a #firstworldproblem kind of day, you can ask yourself “What would Nelson Mandela do?” and give yourself a healthy dose of perspective.

What do you do to make yourself feel better after a bad day?

What are your Christmas plans?

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5 thoughts on “First World Problems and what to do about them

  1. Sorry your day was crummy. I’m glad you have all those positives in your day to make it not so bad.
    This is a great post about perspective. It really is about how we look at things, isn’t it?! I’ll try asking myself that question next time I’m grumpy or upset about a first world problem.
    Your Christmas plans sound like fun! We just stay around home since both of our families are here 🙂

    • Thanks Abby 🙂 It totally is about perspective, we’re so accustomed to thinking negatively, it’s only when we’re around others who are even more negative that it’s apparent. I think ‘What would Nelson Mandela do?’ is going to stick around for a while 😉

  2. I love, love, love this post. What a great reminder about perspective. After a bad day, I usually go for a run, have a glass of wine or do some online shopping 😉 Or just spend some QT with my pets and hubby!

    We’re going to my in-laws and back to my parents’ house in Wisconsin for Christmas!

  3. Pingback: 2013: The Year that Was | I Eat Therefore I Run

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