My freshman year of college, one of my roommates (I was in a triple) used to say the word frustrated with the emphasis on the ATED part, instead of the way Americans typically say that word. Being college freshmen, my other roommate and I found this hilarious, and we got into a debate about the proper way to say frustrated. After that argument, my then boyfriend sent me some songs where the singer says “frustrated” in the way that my roommate did. One of those songs was, notably, by Avril Lavigne, and called “Complicated.” I think Avril Lavigne is Canadian. Just saying. There are plenty of lessons in that story – right and wrong is subjective, there isn’t always just one way to say something, college freshmen are shits – but my main take away was that some people said frustrated differently than I did.
Anyway, as lovely as that was for me, I’m not just using this as an opportunity to reminisce. I do want to talk about the feeling of frustration, because I think it’s at the heart of most of the things I’m feeling lately.
Frustration can lead to anger or sadness. It’s usually temporary and we can see a way out of it, like being stuck in traffic (you aren’t stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic). Traffic can be frustrating but there’s an end, somewhere. Either traffic clears up or you arrive (often late) to wherever you were going. I guess you could just give up all together and get out of your car and walk, but barring an apocalyptic situation, I would really hope that traffic is never THAT bad.
A small story. It includes more reminiscing, but not really of the sweet kind. I don’t remember much from my childhood, and it’s hard to know which memories are real and which are based on photos or stories. I do know that I had a very caring childhood, filled with love. Ask most people and they’ll use words like “carefree” and “joyful” to describe how they remember childhood, but not me. I definitely felt those things as a kid, but the strongest emotion I remember from my childhood is frustration.
For start, I lived in a house with a brother who was 9 years older than I and a mother who gave birth to me when she was nearly 43. I always wanted to hang with the big kids. Plus, I was pretty smart, so I always wanted my ideas to be taken seriously. But I was a kid and sometimes my ideas were a kid’s ideas and sometimes (probably most of the time) they were just bad. So I ended up feeling frustrated, because I just wanted to be taken seriously and in charge!
Now, this says a lot about my own control issues, but if we fast forward to my life today, it’s eerily similar to the life of my childhood: I’m in my mind a lot which can make me feel left out of the conversation, I have lots of things to say without a good way to say them, and when it comes to decisions about where to go or what to do, I’m completely limited in those decisions.
When you’re stuck in traffic, you can see an end. When you’re a kid, you grow up. There is not really a “this will all go away” for me to look forward to.
So yeah. Sometimes I feel frustrated.
I’m working on finding productive outlets to channel that frustration so I don’t just feel sad and angry all of the time, but this is a warning that if you find yourself on the receiving end of that sadness or anger, I’m likely not frustrated with you.
Unless you say “fustration.” Then it’s definitely you.