One of my friends posted a cute cat picture on Facebook, and its tagline implored one to value the benefits of a different perspective. It is burgeoning common knowledge that cat pictures get a great deal of mileage on Facebook, and I have always been a sucker for a cute cat picture. This caption, however, got me to remembering a moment back in time.
I was teaching a Customer Service course to a group of aspiring CSRs, and it was the day of their final exam. It was a bit of a lengthy exam, and a little gruelling in its way. However, it was also an “open book” exam. Prior to the exam, I cautioned students to study because open book exams do tend to be more challenging than one might imagine. Many heeded my cautions, all save for one. He was so certain that this would be the exam he “aced”–who fails an open book exam after all? Suffice to say he miscalculated things slightly. Throughout the exam I could see his rage mounting. Sadly, so did many of his classmates. His muttering, grumbling and slamming of fist on desks became a bitter source of distraction and anxiety amongst the entire class. I found out later that in the moments leading up to the exam this same fellow’s “confidence” was borderline insufferable. He all but mocked others’ nervousness and last minute studying.The exam, like most exams, had a time limit that was strictly enforced. This fellow was still struggling to finish when the time ran out. Those who were seated closest to him had already left. In some cases, I suspect, his behavior adversely affected them and their early finish was also a hasty finish. As I approached him to collect his exam, he slammed his book shut, and threw it in the garbage. He looked at me and said, “This exam is BULLSHIT!” He went on negatively anthropomorphizing the exam and turning it into his mortal nemesis. I could have been outraged by his outburst, but I merely remained unimpressed. When he finished his tantrum he looked at me waiting for a response. His defiance withered a little when I offered him a sage, icy cold, “It all depends on your perspective–have a nice night–See you tomorrow.”
My icy words have come back to bite me in times when I tantrum. Most recently, I found myself indulging in some self pity as I got caught–yet again–with being adversely affected by the turkey allergy I suffer with. Every year, despite careful and steady dosing of Benadryl, somehow all the Thanksgiving turkey consumed by all those around me kicks my ass. It is infuriating for a stubborn and independent person like myself. I get so panicked and frustrated that I cry. Then I feel ashamed for being a big cry baby. It is a both a vicious cycle and a tantrum of sorts–perhaps somewhat justifiable, but a tantrum nevertheless. This year, mid-tantrum, I saw that cute little cat picture on Facebook, and I realized: nothing changes, when nothing changes. I don’t have control over lethal allergens in the air, but I do have control over how I react.
It is all a matter of perspective, and I need to start seeing myself as a warrior, a survivor, and not a victim. I need to remember that everyone has vulnerabilities. I need to remember that there is no shame in taking care of myself in this fight for survival. Most importantly, I need to buy stocks in Benadryl so this allergy can start paying for itself. 😉