“I Have SOOOOO Much Work!”: A Critique of Campus’ Culture of Complaining

I love complaining. On my very first day of college, I complained about my room when it didn’t have air conditioning, my classes when I had to wake up at 10:45, and Frank when it didn’t have Count Chocula. Looking back on it, the last lamentation was especially preposterous.

How many cereals can you think of that are more popular than Count Chocula? Even Oreo O’s, which were a healthy diet’s kryptonite, tasted like toenails, and were discontinued in 2007 because literally no kid ever enjoyed them, are still more popular than poor Count Chocula’s monster-themed Fruity Yummy Mummy cereal. I learned of that failed 80’s special edition Chocula from an online Count Chocula fan site that, among other things, lists collectible Count Chocula memorabilia, like a wooden guitar emblazoned with the Count’s fanged, long-nosed face.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that anyone who dedicates their life to a cereal that uses the tagline, “I want to eat your cereal! Ha! Ha! Ha!” should be water boarded. While I agree with this sentiment, it wasn’t precisely what I was getting at.

What I really want to discuss is the incessant complaining on campus that I do my best to contribute to by constantly whining. It’s an easy pattern to fall into. Let’s say you are going to read this article and complain about my long-winded prose and then a friend complains that you’re complaining, so you complain right back at them that their complaint is completely unjustified. Obviously they’re not just going to sit there and let you complain; they’re going to complain too! But you won’t let them have the last complaint, oh no you won’t, so you’ll complain loudly right to their face that this isn’t the god-damned end of it! You’ll then call up their mother and complain to her for creating such a whiny douchebag in the first place. I’m not sure what comes next, but the logical conclusion is probably going to involve someone getting mildly upset and complaining about it.

And about what, precisely, are most people complaining? (Okay. That was the 15th and last time I use that word in this article, I promise.) Two things: a lack of acquaintances with whom to copulate, and too much work. Unfortunately, I can’t help with the first one. I do, however, have a possibly controversial theory to sort out the latter.It is my sincere belief that professors don’t assign nearly as much work as you might believe after listening to this campus’s pervasive grousing about how many impossible lab reports and soul-searching problem sets every single student is doing past midnight, every night.

A few disclaimers: I am a) a freshman, b) a humanities major, and c) a drama queen prone to tearing up, nightly, about my own never-ending backlog of intellectual burden.But nevertheless, on the rare night that I rid my mind of its Herculean desire to check a girlfriend’s Facebook status and instead list the work for the four classes in which I am enrolled, I come to see that if I turned off my Internet and stopped texting, I could probably finish the straightforward assignments in under two hours. Once in a blue moon, a paper might require three hours (oh the humanity!), but hardly any time more.

I think this is pretty universal; maybe the lone exception is that rare pre-med student who also studies Arabic as their fifth course. Otherwise, I’m confident that a maximum of twenty hours a week (and some people could probably get by with five) of legitimate, isolated work and study is more than enough time to get a 12.0 (weird sounding, isn’t it?), titillate teachers, and leave enough time free to appear like a slacker so you can tell friends that you’ve never studied for a test in your life, which apparently makes you popular.

No matter how true that all may be, it doesn’t change the fact that I, along with nearly everybody else, perform more than three hours of hellish intellectual labor every day and every night. I put myself through agonizingly long, mind-numbing stretches of work at weird hours of the night because I can’t make the effort to sit down for a few hours and, without distraction or procrastination, think, read, and write.

Maybe this is simply a freshman problem, and eventually we’re all going to either grow out of it or fail out and go home. But what if we don’t mature? Is this something we should really keep harping on for the next four years? Is it really that bad to stay up all night writing seven pages on the profundity of the Weimar Republic’s schnitzel cafes? To spend four years leaving things until the night before and rarely getting regular sleep? To spend all those cold Claremont nights sitting by my room’s fireplace while intermittently commenting on wall posts, returning pokes, reading a little Dostoyevsky, and writing a few pages here and there? This lifestyle has its downsides, but it certainly doesn’t merit the bitching and moaning it inspires on campus.

If you see me in four years, napping in my chair as Dean Feldblum delivers a commencement address, then you’ll know that I never changed my procrastinatory ways. But, there’s one thing I can definitely guarantee, and that is that between now and then you won’t hear me se plaindre (French for the forbidden word) about my workload ever again.

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