The “J” Agenda: utilization of anger leads to positive outcomes

Emma J Nelson, Editor-in-Chief

This school year made writing opinion articles easy; my world was defined by anger. My general frustration with the world is what got me up every morning. I allowed myself to be ruled by rage for over a year.

From March to September, I allowed my anger to fester without acknowledging that I was rarely not upset in some form or another. By October, I had taken up kickboxing in an effort to get some of this unwanted energy out of my system. By December, I was so generally angry that I let the littlest things irk me; one glance at my neighbors’ Christmas lights that flickered without pattern could send me down a bitter spiral.

I was scared by how upset I was all the time; I’d always thought anger was bad. In elementary school we were always taught to avoid anger in social situations, told to calm down before it spiked rather than trying to understand why the actions of our peers might make us angry. Colorful charts on classroom walls depicted emotions as either positive (such as joy and surprise) or negative (such as sadness and fear). Anger was always depicted alongside the negatives.

After a year of living with it, I have learned that anger doesn’t need to be a “negative” emotion. It may often stem from negative triggers, but that doesn’t make it bad. Anger is a natural response to challenge, and it serves as motivation to overcome an issue, whether it be through coming to an understanding, walking away or taking action. 

Rather than being ruled by anger, I chose to utilize it, and I continue to be baffled by the number of benefits I have gained by not bottling my frustration. For instance, this is the most physically fit I have been in my entire life. Whenever I would work out in the past, it was unlikely that I would manage to stick with a routine for over a week. Now, I kickbox six days a week, every week, and have been since October. Looking back on it, the only thing that kept me going after week one was that it was relieving to focus the anger into movement. I didn’t feel better physically after one week of exercise. If anything, I felt far worse. But now, for the first time in my 18 years of life, I am comfortable in my body. 

Not only has my anger allowed me to be confident with my appearance, it also pushed me to speak up. I have always been a very opinionated person, but I struggled to share my views anywhere other than on paper. I allowed my opinion to go unheard around people that I didn’t want to upset and ultimately allowed myself and others to get hurt. The amount of anger I have currently, though, has given me the confidence to confront people that I really cared for about their actions. I’ve had some of the hardest conversations of my life in the past year because I couldn’t handle personal conflict on top of all of my frustration with society.

Some days are far more difficult than others, and I can’t say that there are no drawbacks to letting myself live with anger. I’ve lashed out at my parents one moment only to realize that I was in the wrong a moment later. I’ve found myself so overwhelmed by the sound of voices coming through a speaker that I want to scream into a pillow. Neither of these examples sounds good, obviously, and yet this is the best I’ve been with my mental health in a while. I find myself more honest about things now, ‘cause I’ll only be angrier later if I don’t say it now. I can’t be bothered to let things slide. 

So who cares if I’m living with anger just under the surface if I’m utilizing it to live better?