Opinions, Column

It’s OK to be Angry

I am always angry, but I will never tell anyone that out loud. Anger is the emotion we feel ashamed to have. I don’t know about anyone else, but I cannot express anger well. I have been taught that anger is an unproductive emotion, so it’s better just to tuck it away in what my family calls “a box” and just let it fade. As it sounds, this is more unproductive than anger itself. When I came to Boston College, I was surprised to learn that nobody else was taught this way of coping. Perhaps I was taught to conceal anger—after all, my problems at home seemed miniscule compared to the experiences of my immigrant family. But, it could also be from the fact that I’m an only child with working parents, so no one would even care about my anger to begin with.  

My friend—a psychology major—would lecture me time and time again about the impracticalities of the anger box, but I was living my life carefree. Someone said something rude to me? Oh, just put it in the box. I messed up a question on a test I knew the answer to? Box it up. Dropped a donut in a bush? Into the box it goes. 

I thought I cracked the system—anger was irrelevant in my world. What my friend noticed, however, was the increasing resentment I had toward the people in my box, even though it was not explicit. One situation in particular involved one of my friends making me feel second to her in every way. I was the sidekick, which although important for comic relief, made me feel peripheral to my college experience. I felt as though I was only there to advance her story. Instead of facing my problems, I did as I was taught, and like a good hispanic daughter, I shoved my anger in my box. This boxed anger, then, became an invisible means of making me bitter. Always having to put on a smile—even though that’s not the real emotion I was feeling—was exhausting. It hit a breaking point when I hid from my friends because I was just too angry internally, but tired of playing pretend. It was at this point in my time at BC that I decided to unleash my box in order to not go through friends like a revolving door.  

Opening this imaginary box was not easy. The lid was glued shut with years of reprimanding from my family, expressing that anger gets you nowhere. But what I realized is that anger—in moderation—can be the driving force of great decisions. Anger, much like love, is filled with unending passion. It causes you to focus on an issue and want immediate change despite the consequences. Now this does sound extreme, but when we talk about our anger, we are given a chance to channel it toward an appropriate goal. Anger is anything but unproductive, as my family would tell me. They only saw this emotion as a means for violence or an excuse for turning one’s life downhill and living in regret. What they don’t know is that anger is how the world changes—when people get angry they get things done. In my situation, anger changed my experience at BC for the better, it gave me the opportunity to be real to my friends and myself. Letting myself be angry strengthened my friendships and created an environment where I could have meaningful conversations and not merely keep up appearances. 

Being at BC, I feel like a lot of what happens on campus is done to keep up these appearances I am still occasionally guilty of. The amount of insincerity and hiding behind a curtain of smiles is impressive. I believe we should rip that curtain down—release your emotions! Authenticity can reignite life at BC—free from fake smiles and the “BC look away.”  I have personally thrown out my anger box—by doing so, I have lifted a weight off of my shoulders. Let’s get emotional and make some changes to this school. 

First and foremost, I believe that the “BC look away” has to go—saying hi to someone is not that hard. Additionally, if you have no intention of getting lunch with someone, don’t say “we should get lunch sometime.” It’s these little things that personally make me angry, and it’s ok if you are angry too—we need to be honest with each other and ourselves. I am aware that these are not the most pressing issues at BC, but they are a starting point. We cannot enact campus wide changes if we are not united. Being authentic is a way to show solidarity to our fellow Eagles. Only at this point will college turn out to be the best four years of our lives.

November 16, 2022