Finding productive ways to deal with my anger

By STEPHANIE LEE | February 14, 2019

The bathroom was a lake.

I walked in with my $10 Costco slippers and was immediately splashed by the cold, dirty water on the floor. I gagged. It was disgusting. The shower curtains were draped outside the shower stall, and water had dripped from the plastic onto the floor. The water on the floor was, dear lord, an inch deep in some places. How do you even get that much water outside of the stall? 

Internally, I screamed and cursed and was ready to rip the door off its hinges and throw it out the window. White-hot rage began boiling in my chest. My California soul ached at the sight of so much water wasted. 

Externally, I glared at the floor for a long while, then carefully tiptoed my way to the sink to wash my hands. I was having a pretty horrible day, so walking onto the bathroom floor — sorry, Lake Wolman 504 — kind of pushed me to the edge of my limits, to say the least.

I left the bathroom, grabbed my phone and opened my messages. See, I planned on typing a passive aggressive text to my suite chat, but the more I typed, the more the text went from “Please clean up after yourself” to “Please learn how to live with others before I rip my hair out haha thanks!!” 

So I deleted the original message and tried rewriting it a few times:

“Literally guys, what the hell?? Who managed to get so much water on the bathroom floor? More importantly, who thinks it’s okay to make such a mess without cleaning it up? This isn’t your home anymore, I’m not going to clean up after your gross mess. Did your parents raise you to-”

Delete.

“Hi, can you please clean up after yourself?? The bathroom floor is literally flooded, I just splashed myself with some water, it’s so incredibly disgusting. Do you even know how to live with other peo-”

Delete.

“Hi, please please please clean up the bathroom when you’re done using it!! It’s so inconsiderate of someone to leave the bathroom floor completely wet without cleaning up after yourself. We have paper towels in the kitchen, for God’s sake, you don’t-”

Delete.

And I realized that nothing productive was going to come out of my (now aggressive) text messages. My angry words would, at best, provoke a negative reaction from everyone, or at worst, make everyone hate me. I tried, in vain, a few more times to write something a little more kind and gentle, but everything came out to be along the lines of, “Oh, my God, what on earth is wrong with you?”

I figured the best thing to do was to put my phone down and calm down. After all, it ultimately was just a wet bathroom floor. The floor was covered in water, not acid. There wasn’t anything else to it. My leg was a little wet and dirty, but it was nothing a shower couldn’t take care of. 

I wasn’t having a good day, but it had nothing to do with my suitemates and it wasn’t fair of me to use the flooded bathroom as a way to take my anger out on them. I mean, yes, of course it’s easier to use that as an excuse, but it just wasn’t right.

So I put my phone down and sat on my bed. I wound up listening to music and editing pictures for a bit. Sometime during the half hour of editing, I realized how necessary it was to sit down and reflect.

I thought about why my day had been awful and what I could’ve done to prevent things from going the way they did (there really wasn’t anything I couldn’t changed). This alleviated my anger a considerable amount.

Despite the negative associations that it carries, anger is not an inherently bad thing. It’s quite common and valid to get frustrated by events ranging from something as simple and seemingly inconsequential as breaking a pencil to others as complex as a personal rejection or, on a larger scale, social injustices. 

In fact, certain kinds of anger are productive: They fuel creativity, ambition and passion.

However, anger can also make a bad situation worse. Finding productive ways to deal with your anger or calm down is beneficial to yourself and those around you. Allowing yourself to blow off steam — whether it’s through something physical, like working out, or something creative, like painting, singing or writing — enables you to enter a more positive, clearer mind-set, changing your outlook for the better. Taking mere minutes to stop and contemplate your circumstances can make a large difference.

It took me a while to finally draft a text that didn’t have such an intense, rage-imbued undertone to it, yet eventually I was able to. I added some gentle reminders to make sure the shower curtain was inside the stall to prevent leakage and threw in some emojis for a good measure. And that was it. 

Since then, Lake Wolman 504 has ceased to exist. It really was just that simple. After all, an inch of water is barely worth drowning your good day in.

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