The competition was about to begin. I can’t believe how far I reached on this journey. This was the first time I got to enter the competition on a National Level. If I do make it through, I will be going for the Global Competition representing why my life is worse than anyone else’s in the world. All the empathy from around the world… can’t wait!
After I won the State level championships, I was interviewed by a journalist. He asked me, “What motivated you to join for this competition”. I said, “People’s sympathy. Ever since my childhood, I always had a passion for comparing my life with others.” “Well, you are really talented. All the best for your future!” I knew my words struck him hard and now I have one more person’s sympathy!
Sometimes people ask me, “How can you go through all your life reducing your self worth in this way. Do you really want to be known as the person with the worst life ever?” I tell them, “We all want attention from others in one way or another. This is my path to achieving it. Just like everyone else around me, I also want to make something out of myself.” People used to be shocked at this answer. But, after getting such a big fan base doing it, people are more accepting now.
I know what you are thinking…
Why fantasize a world where I will be famous by convincing everyone why my life is worse off than the person in front of me?
But, wait a minute. Think about that once more. Do you really not do that consciously or subconsciously when you talk to people close to you? Why do you do it? Well, we all have our reasons.
Reason 1: Don’t complain to me, if your problem isn’t bigger than mine.
Imagine you were in Grade 9. If you asked your dad to give you an extra $10 as pocket money every week for entertainment and your Dad said “While I was your age, I had to sell newspapers every morning before school just to make enough money to pay for my books!”
Why did your Dad say that?
His reason to say that might be noble. He might want to say his life was rough and you should be more grateful for what you have. He also wants you to understand the value of the money that is earned.
What did you really get out of it?
“Here he is starting another one of his ‘great’ stories about how he made it through his rough childhood. Life is different now. All of my friends get $20 from their parents and I asked only for $10. Why is he being so annoying now.”
So, Clearly this does not have the impact it was meant to have. Although, you still might use the same dialogue to your kids someday.
Reason 2: If I can relate to you, then you will like me more
People need a reason to connect with others. You connect with someone if you are from the same country. If you are an Indian, you will connect with someone if you are from the same state within the same district, within the same hometown using the same dialect of the language and of course the same caste/religion.
All of us want to connect with each other in one way or another. Starting a relationship with a person due to a relatable disastrous story is not a great idea if it leads to both of you just feeling better based on the fact that both of you have a problem.
Reason 3: If I tell him how I was in a situation which was much worse, he might end up feeling like there is a real chance of getting out of his problem too
I love saying how I was in an even tougher spot when someone comes to me with a problem of their own.
If my friend gets depressed and starts sharing how horrible it feels to me. I would try to relate to him by saying how I was in a much deeper pit while I was facing these 99 other problems and it was much worse. And now, I am better!
This reason obviously appeals to me from time to time. I am too biased when it comes to this reason. Truth is this is not really much better than the other two reasons.
Let’s turn the situation around and see what happens.
If I was the one who was depressed and went to a a friend to share how horrible I feel about it, and, if he tried to tell me his own depression story which is 10 times worse than mine. I will feel that I am glad I am in my situation and not in his situation.
You are right, I will feel a little better for the time being and I will get some hope. But, can you imagine you went to a Psychiatrist for help and he tells you, “Man, you have no idea, another client who came to me was much worse off than you, so feel better?”
I mean, he wouldn’t say it like that. He would use some other professional jargon. But in the end of the day, it is not acceptable. Also, there is another problem with that. That means, technically, there is no solution if you are the one facing the worst problem in the world as you won’t have someone come up to you and say “I have a problem that was worse than yours.”
What can you do if someones tells you their life sucks?
If someone close to you starts conversations saying a certain aspect of their life sucks, maybe just try to feel considerate about what they feel? Sometimes you just want someone to listen and not give you a solution. Most of us are smart enough to come up with our own solutions if we simply spent enough time with ourselves and reviewed our lives.
Now, there will be one or two annoying characters out there who still think this guy has no idea what he is talking about. “Everything about my life sucks and I suck!”
To them, I have a gold standard approach that one of my closest friends tell me when I go to him and try to share a problem in life. He listens to everything I have to say and then asks me
Do share your inspiring stories out to the world. There is two ways we learn to better our lives. One is from our own mistakes and the second is by learning about others’ mistakes. But, please don’t react to someone’s story by competing with them.