Why do some people want to make everything into a damn contest or a display of one-upmanship? The foolery alarm goes off the minute they start a sentence with “Try.”
1. “Teaching middle school is so damn hard!”
WRONG RESPONSE: “Try teaching second grade.”
RIGHT RESPONSE: “I bet! That sucks! I teach and it’s hard for me, too! Let’s be annoyed together! YEAH!”
2. “Wow, my day sucked because I’m sick.”
WRONG: “Try being sick for two weeks.”
RIGHT: “I KNOW! Been sick for two weeks and it blows and also sucks! Let’s complain together! BONDING MOMENT!”
You also know you’re on a ride through Dicklandia when their response starts with “Welcome.”
1. “I had a fourteen hour day today! Whew!”
WRONG: “Welcome to my every day”
RIGHT: “That’s rough! I had one, too. MILLER TIME!”
2. “Aw, damn, I didn’t get the job.”
WRONG: “Welcome to the real world.”
RIGHT: “I’m sorry. It’s been rough out there for a lot of us. MILLER TIME.”
When you say say “Welcome” or “Try” in these contexts it belittles the other person’s experience. It implies that they’ve never had this hardship before and you go through it all the time. It implies that, no matter how difficult the person is finding their experience, yours is HARDER. It’s a dick move, EVEN IF IT’S TRUE. You can commiserate with someone without belittling them. You’ll get your chance to complain. You don’t need to bogart theirs.
And yes, sometimes people are complaining about shit they have no right to complain about. When I was selling my mother’s house (she was ill and towards the end of her life), the real estate agent bitched and moaned to me about how he used to go to cultural events in Oakland all the time, but now there are just “too many Black people.” The appropriate response to that may very well be “Welcome to 2003” with the addition, “YOU ARE A RACIST AND I AM GOING TO A DIFFERENT REAL ESTATE AGENT AT ONCE.” I’m not talking about people who are being awful, racist, selfish, or entitled. I’m talking about people complaining about their regular lives– you know, the kind of complaining we all do. Ow, my back; my kids are driving me nuts; I have no job; my job sucks; my mother-in-law is certifiably insane. You know, the usual.
The people who can’t let anyone else have a moment to do some basic human complaining are the same people who just can’t let anyone have the spotlight for even one minute to celebrate, either.
“I just did an awesome thing! Whee!”
WRONG: “My kid did that awesome thing when they were two, plus I did it seven times with Shatner on the back of a monkey-driven, rocket-powered donutmobile AND I WAS BORED.”
If you find yourself responding to someone and the first word out of your mouth or keyboard is “Try,” YOU ARE NOT BEING COOL. Unless that person is saying, “OW I AM BLEEDING” and you’re saying “Try putting pressure on it,” in which case, carry on. If you find yourself responding to someone and the first word out of your mouth or keyboard is “Welcome,” YOU ARE NOT BEING COOL unless YOU ARE BEING SINCERE.
“Look at this picture of my new baby!”
SINCERE RESPONSE: “Welcome to parenthood! She’s beautiful!”
BULLSHIT RESPONSE: “Welcome to my world. Good luck getting any sleep until February.”
You really do not need to be the winner every single time. Let others have the spotlight from time to time. I promise you won’t disappear if it shines on someone else for a second. It actually feels great, and, as my wonderful former mother-in-law says, it earns stars for your crown in heaven. Not that we subscribe to the same religion. She’s a Christian and I’m a follower of Moradin, god of the dwarves.
Now go be excellent to each other.