What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Absolute Worst April 16, 2014

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Here’s the thing. I don’t know why I always start rants with “here’s the thing,” but it just seems to come naturally. It bothers me when people say “you don’t know what (fill in the blank) is until you’ve (fill in the blank).” There are lots of examples of this. My favorite being “you don’t know what being tired is until you’re a parent.” Or “I never want to hear someone who’s not a parent complain about being tired again. They don’t know what tired is.”

Now granted, I have no children. I don’t even have a puppy. I’m sure that having a new baby is exhausting. My sister has a new baby. She isn’t the type to complain. She’ll grin and say she’s fine even if she’s dragging her intestines on the floor. But I can tell from her voice that she’s about ready to drop. But if we say that “you don’t know what tired is if you don’t have a child,” perhaps we should take it a step further. Like “you don’t know what tired is until you’re a single parent.” But then comes “you don’t know what tired is until you are a single parent working two jobs.” Or a single parent in content edits for a novel. Or a single parent of triplets. Or living in Syria. Or a single parent or triplets living in Syria, working two jobs while in content edits, who has to undergo Chemo Therapy.

You see what I mean? It’s a slippery slope. Since we can’t really figure out who has the definitive right to be declared the “most tired in the world,” why don’t we just accept it as all being relative?

You say you’re tired. I accept it as truth. I will offer coffee. I say I’m tired because there was a leaf blower outside my bedroom window at 7am. Don’t scoff because 7am isn’t that early. I’m an actor. I work second shift. That is really early to me! I wouldn’t laugh at you if you said you were exhausted because you hadn’t gotten to sleep until 11pm.

And if you came to me and said your leg hurt, I wouldn’t say, “You don’t know what pain is. Real pain is stress fractures, a dislocated knee, and a dislocated hip.” No. I would give you an ice pack. The worst I’ve felt and the worst you’ve felt are different. We can’t feel what the other is feeling, so why make it a competition? No one wins. It’s all relative. So, be the most hungry, the most tired, and in the worst pain. I promise not to lecture you about how “I’ve had it worse.”


6 Responses to “The Absolute Worst”

  1. Yep. This is so true. I attribute our human tendency to “one up” others to our ego’s. And our ego’s are difficult to tame. I talk to mine all the time. 😉 When it’s telling me to say one of those, “you don’t know’s”, I tell it to kindly be quiet so I can commiserate with whomever I am communicating with. It doesn’t always work, but I try!

    • It’s a hard thing to do. But when someone is suffering, even if it’s only a splinter, the last thing they want to hear is how getting their finger cut off would hurt more. Hope you’re enjoying Kentucky!

  2. so true! Great post!

  3. Good. Because I’ve had CFS for 24 years, and you have no idea what tired is! It’s been so long since I had even 50% of normal energy, there’s no point to trying to remember when that was. I think 1989.

    It’s all relative – and your approach is the correct one: deal with the present, leave the judgments out. I salute you – and wish your sister a regular babysitter for the BABY, so the MOTHER could get a nap regularly. A far better present than cute baby clothes. Or a cleaning lady for a while. Or delivered food. Or – almost anything better than flowers.

    Better still, SOME flowers + one of those things. Miniature carnations smell good, are very inexpensive, and, if you cut the stems every couple of days, last for a long time.

  4. notmarch Says:

    Yes, yes and YES!

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