Recently my husband and I were flying internationally. A little less than 24 hours before the flight, he went to do online check-in. But only his name was there. Mine was missing entirely from the reservation. We checked and double checked emails. After a few international phone calls we sorted out that for some unknown reason I was under a different reservation and we were able to get that number. But I still couldn’t check in. There was inclement weather, flights had been canceled that day, and we were concerned if I didn’t check in that I’d get booted from the flight. Several more phone calls later we finally got it all sorted. It was a somewhat frantic hour, and afterwards our hearts were still racing a bit and we collapsed onto the bed grateful that it was sorted, and declaring, “That was so stressful!”
Here, we often have plumbing troubles, taxi driver woes, and internet connection problems at the very worst times. This stuff, especially when ill-timed, can be really stressful.
In the office we commiserate over power outages, water being cut for a day or two at a time, or the extreme debilitating heat of summer. But I’m thoughtful and careful in sharing about some of the things that get me really stressed. Especially with our colleagues who are refugees, I’m not going to talk about the stress of travel, flights, and getting through customs.
It is a privilege to be stressed about traveling, because is a privilege to be able to travel. I should never complain about this to a friend who could never fathom being able to take a one week trip out of the country.
While living overseas has, in some ways, made me more laid back, I am still not a laid back person. I love my plans, I love my routines, I love my own space. I put a lot of pressure on myself sometimes. And I get bent out of shape and stressed.
But the things I get bent out of shape and stressed about tend to not be the same things that my friends and colleagues here get bent out of shape and stressed about. Is that any surprise?
Food prices have skyrocketed here recently, and salaries have remained stagnant. Colleagues have run out of money at the end of the month. Families we know have gone without dinner more than once. Salaries were a few days late because management wanted to wait, knowing the pound was going to float and they were going to get a better exchange rate. So people were desperate for a few more days then they needed to be. Friends who have been saving for kid’s school fees for months, were suddenly only halfway there when the fees doubled because of the pound being floated. Friends have medical problems they can’t get a good diagnosis for, and doctors just keep putting them on new medicines hoping it will help whatever the problem is.
No matter how much food costs, I will always be able to buy it. This is not a thing I have ever worried about in my life and not a thing I will probably ever have to worry about. A privilege. A big one. I’m not necessarily saying, “Finish your dinner because there are starving children in Africa!” And I’m also not saying that it is a sin to be stressed over things that others could never fathom being stressed about. But what I am saying is that when we feel we have a right to complain, maybe we should evaluate the privilege that we have in the things we wish to complain about.
As with everything, I think a continual panning out from our own lives, and including others (especially those who are different from us), in our line of vision and consideration would do us well.
Let us recognize that we really do have it good most of the time, however stressy life may be.