Sunday, 18 January 2009

Control and When to Give Up

Wanting to be able to accept the things you cannot change and change the things you cannot accept is a wonderful sentiment. I’m not entirely sure where it comes from; a quick search on google for the adage reveals it is used by various religious groups, self help books and alcoholics anonymous.

I find the first bit particularly different. As a matter of course, if there is a problem, I like to do something about it so that it becomes less of a problem. Anyone that has ever had to write an essay knows that the best way to stop worrying about it is to write the damn thing. Changing the things I cannot accept is fair enough, but accepting the things I cannot change is going to take some work.

The only thing that really gets me stressed to an unbearable level is not being able to do anything about something that is effecting my life. That may make me sound like a control freak, or some kind of miniature despot, but it’s not really as bad as that. Considering I am remarkably flexible in terms of things happening to me, there’s not much that I would say actually effects me anyway, but just occasionally, something will happen and there will be absolutely nothing that I can do to stop it weighing heavily on my mind.

Just as a case in point, our internet connection is something I can do nothing about. I have been telephoning our ISP (who shall remain nameless unless they don’t get their act together pretty quickly) since I first signed up for the service over a year ago to complain about slow speeds and frequent disconnection. After being told that this was because of a broken router/a broken modem/a bad network/problems in the area/solar flares/the infinite power of Christ and offering a variety of solutions such as replacing the hardware/upgrading my network/restarting my computer/sacrificing a goat, it has transpired that the cable in our area is just completely overloaded at peak times of the day. Unbelievably, there is nothing that they can do about this until enough people complain, but I would put serious money on the notion that whenever someone does complain, they get fobbed off with one of the aforementioned stupid excuses and they probably believe them.
Bottom line of this rather uninspired and only-blood-boiling-if-you’re-me rant, our internet doesn’t work and our ISP won’t fix it. This qualifies this particular mind boggling series of events as a thing that is effecting my life and the lives of my flatmates, but it is also something that I can do absolutely nothing about other than complain.

If you think very carefully about your life and things that have been happening in it, anyone will see that these sorts of things happen all of the time. We can’t help it if we have work that needs to be done but don’t have the components required to complete it. We can’t help it if they’ve sold out of Banoffee Pie and the only reason that you picked that restaurant in the first place was because your girlfriend really wanted Banoffee Pie. We can’t help it if the train is delayed due to “passenger action” and will make you cataclysmically late again.

The thing that frustrates me the most about these things is that for the most part, they are so insignificant that getting upset about them just makes you feel stupid. I know I’m not really that dependant on the internet, and maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve been cut off from my own particular brand of digital heroine, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to holler insults down the telephone at the moron who has just told me to de-fragment my computer in order to make the internet work.

I’m not too sure where I’m actually going with this, but what I’m really trying to say is that I wish I could let things go more often. I’m sure that if I had focussed more on the things that I could do something about as opposed to the things that I couldn’t do something about when I was looking for a job back when I’d first graduated, I would have had a much better time of things and a few more opportunities to chose between. It would have been better to proactively research more options and distribute my CV to more places than to become despondent about companies not getting back to me. I can’t do anything about a company’s policy on interviews but I can do something about more companies realising that I exist.

If you find yourself trying to control the uncontrollable, give up and move on to something else.

Additional Notes:

Seeing as complaining is the only thing I can really do about our internet, I make sure I do as much of it as possible. Thanks for listening. I feel a little bit like this article is probably copy for copy’s sake, but I just wanted to vent about it somewhere and everyone I know is already bored with it.

I’ve actually developed a new way of getting my own back on technical support. I ask if I can put them on hold for a second, put the phone down on the side and walk off for ten minutes. If they’re still there when I come back, I pass the phone to someone else in the flat without telling them who’s on the phone or what the phone call is about. It’s not an original idea by any means and it is very closely modelled on the way they deal with me on a regular basis, but I still like it.

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