It is with great trepidation that I write the words you are about to read. In doing so, I will be admitting my biggest fear of all time and will have to thus enter into a period of pensive self-reflection and tenacious determination to change:

I am not as smart as I think I am.

There. The words have been put to paper. And for you apathetic readers, whose eyes graze this page as a means of finding out this week’s news (yay, conference winners!), I must inform you as to what made me come to this difficult conclusion. There is not a single thing over which I can say I have a full mastery. Although I am a history major, I must still be reminded of the events of various wars throughout the course of world history; my Spanish major is useful in the city of San Antonio, yet I confess I never traveled abroad to put my skills to the test; I am dreadfully illogical and overly emotional, making my choice to go to law school one of great concern; and I haven’t cooked in weeks, which makes my self-proclaimed mastery of college cooking non-applicable. The only things I have truly mastered in my short (though to me exceedingly long) twenty-one years are the arts of complaining and suffering.

In the spirit of Lent, which, for you non-Christian folk, is the period preceding Easter in which many Christians “give something up” as a symbol of preparation, I decided to give up my favorite daily activity: complaining (hah, you thought I was going to say going to Bay’s!). For those of you who know me, or have even read my columns, you know that this choice will be one of great difficulty for someone like me who has mastered this art to its fullest. I have been told that I could out- “bitch and moan” (pardon my language, but you are allowed some luxuries in the press, no?) the best of martyrs, and I have learned to express my misery with a single look. Yet, this is in no way a success. I know many positive and silently suffering people in my life and have tremendous respect for them. However, even when presented with the advice to be more positive about my life (thank you, Kayley Slezak and Stephanie Barbour), I have always spurned this wisdom in favor of more cathartic complaining. Therefore, it is time to try to quiet my grumpy whines for more proactive response. Hence, if you hear me complaining (unless you’re in ASR), feel free to kindly chide me.

You may inquire as to why I haven’t addressed the horrible art of suffering that I say I have mastered, and I will tell you why: it seems to me that much of life is suffering. Now, before you turn the page because this sounds like a Writing Workshop theme or Hawthorne Heights song, you should know that I mean this sentiment in the best sense. Without suffering, we are unable to grasp the good in life. We must suffer through the trivial things, such as Hildebrand construction and lost TigerCards, as well as the more serious things, such as monetary troubles, deaths and lost loves, in order to appreciate the rare and occasional good that life throws our way. Life is not a bitch (I decided I might as well keep it up since I already used the word). It is, in fact, a three-year-old child. It can throw the worst tantrums, making us want to walk out, scream or regret the path which led us to that tantrum. Yet, life can also be sweet, kind and full of wonder. It can make us hopeful for the future and grateful for the smallest things that turn our day around. So, at the risk of jinxing my Lenten task, I challenge you, dear reader, and myself, to re-master the art of suffering. In doing so, we will perhaps find that life, being the three-year-old that it is, will be quite an adventure and full of surprises (like your birthday, Allison). Until next time…

Gabrielle Shayeb is a senior majoring in history.