Ask a fifth year

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
I’m in a foul mood. It’s causing me to lose my patience for the classes, work and even human interactions that make up my day. Any advice for perking myself up?
-Pissed in Plantz

At this point in the column, I usually point out the strange coincidence that I’ve been going through the same thing, myself. Anyone paying attention may have already concluded that either I’m particularly prone to serendipity, or that I’m writing the questions myself. From there, it’s really only a matter of factoring the apathy of campus into the equation to realize that I’m unlikely to receive anything from anyone that wasn’t already required by a class or a student organization.
My attempts to start the “Let’s Write Letters to Drew” Club aside, the point I’m trying to make is that I often have to come up with these questions on my own, and my lack of creativity often forces me to resort to autobiographical content.
That’s certainly the most circuitous route I’ve ever taken to express that I’m in a bad mood, but I have a heady pretext to maintain with all four people who read this column – hi Mom! – so I thought I should at least pay lip-service to the normal format.
Beyond that, I often find it cathartic to work through my problems by pretending like I’m solving somebody else’s, so I’m going to stick with the advice-column set-up, in spite of everyone’s knowledge that it’s a sham – but then, I’ve always known it was a sham, so this isn’t really much of a change for me.
Anyway, Pissed, I don’t have any particularly good advice in this matter, mostly because everyone is different. The simple answer is to take refuge in whatever puts you in a good mood, whatever that may be. However, it’s also possible that your bad mood was caused by something that either needs to be fixed or avoided entirely in the future.
I can’t really know, Pissed, since you didn’t include any of these details, but let’s just say that your bad mood was caused by many little things, rather than one big thing.
For example: you didn’t get enough sleep last night, had to do hours upon hours of frustrating, unrewarding class work and knew you were going to have to keep working on said work all night, with your only break being the hour you set aside to write your poorly conceived, tonally schizophrenic column for this week’s Lawrentian. Something like that would put me in a bad mood, too.
Sleep is definitely a big factor, so I’m glad you included it in your example – or did I? I’m having trouble telling us apart, Pissed – as far too many people write it off as an afterthought. For me, getting up on the right side of the bed is even harder when just getting up at all is a chore. I also tend to only think about sleep when I’m tired, which causes a level of distraction I usually only reserve for class time.
The fact that the class work I mentioned is unrewarding is another big factor. After 14 terms of having at least one class I looked forward to, I selected this term’s classes specifically to fulfill my remaining general education and major requirements, which set me up to resent them terribly.
That assessment is a little unfair, given my sleep deprived state of mind – there are actually a lot of good things about those classes, just none of them struck me as better than sleep when I thought about it today.
Come to think of it, sleep deprivation and boring classes are kind of givens at college – I can’t avoid them any more than I can avoid seeing guys in backwards baseball caps. The good news – for you and/or me, Pissed – is that the negative factors only occasionally align to form the downward spiral of resentment outlined in the example, and even when they do, it’s temporary.
I’m sure by tomorrow, you/I will be feeling much better, and a little embarrassed about complaining about it for all to see. Don’t worry, that embarrassment will pass, too.