I recently had the most interesting experience in Armenia. When I say interesting, I mean, mind-numbingly frustrating. I mean, borderline soul-crushing. The entire situation was the stereotypical example of the absurd, Kafkaesque, Soviet-leftover, bureaucratic system that makes absolutely no sense to those unaccustomed to it. Efficiency was non-existent as was reason or logic. I will not divulge details, but at one point, I somehow found myself in a room smelling oddly of peepee.

Now, I have a horrible temper that I have learned to control over the years, but I had not experienced frustration and anger like this in recent memory. It was weird. You may ask, was I incensed? Incensed?! Is the People’s Elbow the greatest move in World Wrestling Entertainment history?


I could feel myself spiraling out of control down an abyss of pessimism. I wanted to succumb because giving up to pessimism just feels so good! You get to blame everything around you and feel like you have the right to think that everything and everyone has failed you!

“Dahm you vegetable vendor for not having lettuce on Tuesdays! երկիրը երկիր չէ.”

“UUUugh my phone won’t connect to the free wifi thats eeeeverywhere.  երկիրը երկիր չէ.”

But I did not allow myself to do so.

Experiences like this may also be the reason why people say they will wait until these types of absurdities clear itself and then they will enjoy the country. I am aware that these types of situations are incredibly frustrating and they do happen. As such, I have been accused of painting too bright a picture of Armenia or of ignoring too much.  I beg to differ.

Let me break it down a bit.

In the late 19th century, Armenians faced massacre, and a majority maintained a servile mentality. This did not stop a few ingenious people from organizing and injecting sentiments of pride, nationalism and self-defense into the masses. After World War One, Armenians suffered from genocide and faced starvation and a serious threat of annihilation. This did not stop a few progressive thinkers from rising from the melee and establish an independent republic. In the late 80’s, early 90’s, Armenians faced the collapse of the only safety net they had, a devastating earthquake and a destructive war. This did not stop many courageous individuals from defending the country and establishing a free and independent Armenia.

Now, I am not comparing any experience I have had to any of the aforementioned at all. I am saying that despite the fact that difficulties are plentiful, establishing and maintaining a functioning and successful nation is not an easy task. However, I am over the opinion that one setback, one absurdity, one painfully uncomfortable experience allows anyone the right to righteously excuse themselves of having a hand in bettering this country.   If you give up, give up. But it is not acceptable to make it seem like one has the right to do so because of the difficulties they may have faced. Give up and admit defeat and lack of faith. These types of people are not realists, they are defeatists. All things become great through excessive work and patience. This period in Armenia’s history is not without its first difficulty, nor will it be its last. But please don’t excuse negativity for realism and optimism for naiveté. We (because there are many) are not optimistic because we have never had a negative or frustrating experience.   We are optimistic because we consciously choose to be. After all, whats a little peepee odor in the grand scheme of things?