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Quit the complaining

April 7th, 2011

I can be quite the complainer. I know that and I admit it. I complain when it snows, when it rains, when I have a lot of work to do, when I have nothing to do, when I don’t get sleep and when I oversleep.

I’ve always justified it by telling myself that I do a lot and I have a lot on my plate.

It would be wrong for me to complain if I did absolutely nothing with my life but sleep all day, eat cereal and watch television. It would be unacceptable for me to complain if I wasn’t incredibly busy.

However, this is certainly not the case so I have every right to complain. Right?

Well, when I put my troubles in perspective, my complaining is really not justified at all.

A few days ago I met a woman named Connie Culp and I can’t help but feel that my complaints are miniscule in comparison to what she has been through and weathered with nothing but a positive attitude.

You may or may not recognize the name Connie Culp. She has been in the news, but not as much now as she was a few years ago; she’s probably in the medical history books as well. Connie was the first person in the United States to receive a face transplant, which she needed after her husband shot her in the face seven years ago.

After she was severely injured, Connie lost much of her face to the injuries. She couldn’t eat solid food, smell or taste.

She underwent 30 surgeries to help her heal, but none of them helped her. Finally she came to the Cleveland Clinic where doctors performed the first face transplant in the United States, a grueling approximately 23-hour surgery.

You would think she’d be bitter or at least angry about what happened to her. Her life was forever and dramatically changed, and it was beyond her control. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that someone who survived such an ordeal would be depressed or not want to talk about it. No one would blame her for complaining.

She doesn’t complain, though. She acted neither bitter nor angry, self-pitying nor depressed.

She was simply thankful to be alive, happy to be able to be with her children and grateful for the donor whose organs she received.

When someone asked about whether she had grandchildren, Connie lit up. She was thankful she had the opportunity to know them and to reconnect with her family.

She’s also had to deal with the pointing and stares from passers-by who don’t know or understand what she has been through.

Connie said she would rather people ask her what happened rather than simply leer.  She seems to be okay with telling her story, sharing her experiences. She prompts others to become organ donors so that they too might positively change a life, as someone did hers.

Connie has every reason in the world to complain about everything. She has every reason to complain, but she doesn’t.

Meeting Connie has made me reevaluate my complaining. Do I have a lot of work to do? Yes. Do I wish I had more sleep? Absolutely. But these are stressors I have brought upon myself; they’re choices I have made. In the grand scheme of things, losing a little sleep isn’t that big of a deal. So here’s to not sweating the small stuff in life.