Hardships and personal struggles shouldn’t be a competition

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Graphic by Kash Patel

A trend I’ve been annoyed with recently is the tendency some people have to compare their suffering to others.

I think it’s always important to acknowledge the validity and the severity of other people’s struggles — especially if your own are particularly difficult to deal with — and I’ve never understood the need some people have to rise above everyone else on the scale of human suffering.

Compassion and empathy are two things that are delicate and difficult to balance at times, but they’re fundamentally important in recognizing the problems other human beings are experiencing.

My boyfriend has Crohn’s disease — which means that he experiences random, sometimes consistent symptoms that leave him drained, weak and completely incapable of doing anything else except staying home and resting.

I, like every other person in this world, have experienced pain. But it would hardly be my place to look down my nose at someone because they’re hurting in a way that I don’t understand or seems frivolous to me because I’ve had it “worse.”

But because people cannot feel his pain or see it happening like an open wound right in front of them, they fail to exhibit any concept of understanding and sometimes refuse to extend him any shred of sympathy, belittling him in the process.

He has been treated like he’s ruined an outing because he had to go home early, brushed off for having “a little stomach ache” or given a list of ridiculous suggestions as to how he can fix his problems in order to not spoil the fun for everyone else.

I have Type 1 Diabetes, which I have gotten into the habit of quietly dealing with in private whenever I need to in order to avoid unnecessary comments — when I’m not able to hide it, however, I become an inconvenience or someone to write off because what

I’m going through “could be worse.”

We both have autoimmune diseases, but this weird social comparison contest isn’t just limited to people like us.

I’ve had friends who have had terrible period pain and couldn’t go out for a night, but are treated like they were the killers of fun because of it — and by other women, no less.

The fact of the matter is, unless you have experienced exactly what that particular person is going through, you have no right to judge them for what hardship they’re experiencing.

It shouldn’t be a tall order to accept that while you may have gone through challenging times in your life yourself, other people have too.

I don’t really know when it became an olympic sport to compete in, but this need to chime in that you’re more tired, more depressed or just struggling more in general as a method to shame someone out of feeling a certain way, isn’t going to achieve anything except making yourself look like a dick.

Using others (and yourself) as models for how much worse it could be, only devalues a person’s feelings and exemplifies the self obsession we tend to have about being the top of everything — even if it’s hardship.

I, like every other person in this world, have experienced pain. But it would hardly be my place to look down my nose at someone because they’re hurting in a way that I don’t understand or seems frivolous to me because I’ve had it “worse.”

Our existence shouldn’t be based solely on competing and comparing ourselves with each other, especially when it comes down to having understanding and warmth towards fellow human beings.

Whose worst is worse is not a train of thought that should be operated on when confronted with these issues.

Finding perspective in moments where you may not have all of the insight you think you do is invaluable and much needed, to say the least.

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