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Hey Australia, stop complaining

The other day a friend of mine said something incredibly wise. He didn’t say it with any fanfare and he said it half-jokingly, but it came, as truth often does, as both a relief, and slight blow to the stomach. “You know you’re an adult,” he said, “when you spend 95 per cent of your life doing things you hate.”

And I laughed, because it initially sounded so bleak, but then I thought about it and, holy moly, the sentiment is spot on.

I thought about all the things that I do, and that just about everybody else does, and how complaining about them has become our default position. And that’s a waste, for two reasons. Straight up, it doesn’t change what has to be done; it just doubles the pain of it. Secondly, a lot of those chores are only onerous because of our perception. Mostly, they’re activities that, as a child, you would have LOVED. I mean, if you had told me when I was growing up that I would spend my life doing the following, I would’ve thought: “This is so good – am I going to be FREAKIN’ ROYALTY when I grow up?!”

For instance:

Driving

I have four children, and a distant part of my brain recalls how I used to sneer at cars that had a “Mum’s Taxi” sign in the rear window. But now, operating the brutal and relentless conveyor belt of dropping kids at school or gymnastics or playdates or dentist appointments or sleepovers or parties, I am probably the number one candidate for a (slightly more modern, but no less depressing) “Mum’s Uber” placard. And, if you don’t have kids, there’s no need to be smug – you’re still sitting in the same gridlock I’m in, and hating it. But imagine you were a child, and I said you could spend all day driving an actual CAR – with the radio on, singing along to your favourite songs, and picking up other people along the way? That would be the greatest news you had ever heard.

Working

I’m having trouble describing how most of us talk about work without using the phrase “bitch and moan”. Because the working week is a litany of predictable exchanges about how awful the bosses/the company/your colleagues are. And maybe they are. But you’re going to spend a goodly chunk of your time there, so wouldn’t it make more sense to enjoy it? Play the child again. Your own office/cubicle/desk/tools, with your own phone, swipe card and computer? A kitchen to make toasties? A VENDING MACHINE?! What’s to complain about?

The gym

Ha, ha, ha, help me. Yes. The gym. This is where my adult brain really lets loose with unfettered hatred. It’s the source of much pain, without apparently getting rid of any gain. But have you seen what children do in their natural state? How they run and leap and jump and squat and bounce? So I get to roll around on fitballs, hang off ropes, jump up onto things and do some boxing, and THEN I have the audacity to complain about it?!

Man. Being a grown-up is wasted on me.

Originally Published: Stella, Sunday, March 5 2017

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