problem-solving with cereal

December 7th

It’s generally agreed upon that we should face our problems head-on before they fester and grow into something unwieldy like a $700 parking ticket or walking pneumonia; However, today that’s not what I’d like to talk about. Today, I’m going to explore the perhaps more-traveled and less-respected route of ignoring until it either goes away or gets so bad that Teen Vogue pays you to write an article about it. Well, maybe not ignoring, but approaching a problem or conflict through more passive means. Before I offer any specifics, I would like to address the troubling notion that we cannot create profound or impactful art and writing without experiencing extreme pain or loss.This is a harmful perspective which feeds the archetype of the suffering artist as the only valid origin for creation and furthermore, there are surely other ways to be featured in Teen Vogue.

So, what am I referring to really? Is it actually a good idea to approach our problems through passivity and sarcasm? Well, the short answer is that it can be. It can be exhausting, if not incredibly unsavory, to address minor inconveniences and larger issues from an active or offensive position. A hypothetical of this approach might appear as the following: Your roommate has failed to take out the trash (again) and instead has started placing empty cereal boxes back onto the shelf. You’ve considered just asking them outright, “would you please do the bare-human-minimum and take out the trash every now and again.” But, just as you’re considering, inspiration strikes. You gather up all of the empty cereal boxes they’ve put back onto the shelf and place them neatly on your roommates bed. They see the cereal boxes laid to rest on their IKEA duvet cover and you both have a good laugh. After sharing this pleasant experience, you find your roommate is almost dutiful in their newfound commitment to apartment hygiene.

Could things really work out this way? Maybe. I’d really like to think they could but unfortunately things like timing, the personality of your roommate, and the size of your apartment could all become obstacles to the success of this approach.

Whether or not this sort of offensive passivity is a feasible option for you and your problem-solving needs, it can serve as a reminder that we should all be facing life’s (many) challenges according to our own needs, the needs of anyone else involved, and the situation at hand.

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