Hashtag First World Problems

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I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always been the most appreciative person.  When I was in elementary school, I had a tendency of dramatizing my problems and thinking that things like not having all of my friends show up to my birthday party or losing in baseball were the worst things that could happen to me.  I didn’t understand that, although I didn’t have the best situation, I didn’t have the worst either.  However, once my middle school years came along, things got tougher, teaching me a few good lessons that I now try to pass on to others and which I will certainly pass on to my children.  I learned to be more optimistic and appreciate what I do have, what I have experienced, and what I can do.  Now, that I’ve gone through certain situations, it’s hard for me to see people be so ungrateful and so ignorant of the opportunities standing right in front of them that they’re choosing to look past.  It’s frustrating to realize that some people don’t know how blessed they are.  It’s even more frustrating to know that I used to be one of those people and am now trying to open the blind eyes of others to no avail.

I know that I do not have it the worst.  I am grateful for the house I live in, the family I have, the job I work, the love I receive, and the passion I am nurturing, but there are also opportunities that I wish I had who people so close to me take for granted.  One thing I wouldn’t take for granted is having my family near me.  I never had the chance to go to school with my cousins.  I was never able to be at the hospital for the birth of a new addition to the family.  I haven’t been able to see my family whenever I wanted to.  Although living in the states has been one of the best things that could have ever happened to me, unfortunately, I’m miles away from all of my extended family every single day and I miss out on a lot.  I wish I could watch my nephews grow up in person, rather than in pictures.  (It’s honestly a relief that the oldest still remembers who I am.)  I wish I could learn more family recipes every day, which is why when they come to visit I try to learn whatever new dishes I can.  I wish I could say I’ll see you soon to so many of my relatives, but I can’t.  They either live way too far away and the funds aren’t there to make frequent visits or they are simply no longer with us.  That’s the simple truth.  I can’t and it frustrates me to see people who don’t appreciate things like that.

There are so many opportunities I wish I had.  Seeing my family is only one of them, which sparked this little rant of mine, but it truly does bother me to see people live on in such an ignorant fashion.  “Hashtag first world problems” is the best way to sum up their complaints.  I admit that sometimes I get caught up in the little things, but I try to make a conscious effort about what I complain about.  I may think about how frustrating sitting in traffic may be, but I’ll always think “at least I have a car and a job to go to or at least it’s a nice day and my air conditioning is working,” completely stopping me from voicing my miniscule annoyances.  The way I see it is I will always have problems and imperfections in my life.  Yes, I might have it bad sometimes, but there is always someone else who has it worst than me.  Ask my best friend.  I frustrate her to no end when I refuse to admit what’s bothering me because of this mindset, but it’s true.  Someone else may not have shelter, food, or water.  They might be physically abused, unable to graduate, or terminally ill.  I think that somebody always has it worst than me, so I shouldn’t burden others by verbalizing my complaints about the small things.  At the same time, I have to appreciate what I do have.  We all should appreciate what we have because the person next to us doesn’t always have those same things as well.

It might be innate to criticize the imperfections around us, but we have to make it second nature to highlight the positives we experience.  Not everything is so bad, so why make it seem that way?  Instead appreciate what you have, but can’t change and work toward changing the negatives that are in your control.  Don’t let opportunities pass you by because you were too busy focusing on complaining about x, y, and z.  Perhaps, with some more optimism, you won’t notice so many problems in your life.

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About Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the mainland United States, I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and am a 2016 VONA Voices Alumna. I currently perform spoken-word in the greater Washington D.C. area and have previously performed in Philadelphia, Miami, and the Dominican Republic. Most recently, I have been published in Public Pool, Spillwords, and The Acentos Review, and Here Comes Everyone: East & West Issue.

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