Last week when I was waiting with my fellow classmates for our professor to come start class, we were discussing how we have a lot of homework;
almost too much. It started out with us all agreeing that we have a lot of homework, and every time someone chimed in they would add something to “one up” it, as in they could take the stress one step further than the previous person. The conversation ended with someone saying how they go to school full-time, work too many hours and have to balance everything with their children. No one could top that.
Apparently I know how to silence a group of college students.
Really, though, I undermined the stress that everyone expressed that they were feeling, as if my being a student working parent gives me some type of elevated status that is more deserving of sympathy. I had done the exact same thing that my friend did to me a few days earlier, and I said “Wow, I am exhausted,” and she said “Well you’re not exhausted like I am,” as if the fact that she was exhausted trumped anyone else’s exhaustion. As soon as my friend said that to me, I 1) Felt bad that I had said I felt crappy when I actually felt crappy; then 2) wondered if I was really over-exaggerating as my friend suggested, and then 3) Became massively annoyed, probably like my classmates did with me.
Years ago when I was a freshman in college I had no kids and didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a home to maintain. I had no bills to pay and no real responsibilities outside of going to class and getting my homework done. And I was stressed out, big time. In fact, probably just as much as I might be now.
You know what they say about hindsight? Yeah, that. But if my older self had told my younger self “Well if you think you’re stressed out, look at me,” I would have thought that older self was kind of jerk. So I can see how annoying I must have sounded when I was telling these 20 something’s that they didn’t know true stress.
Every so often someone will say to me either directly or indirectly (through someone else) that they are “amazed” at how I balance everything, how I do “it,” etc…or the phrase “I could never do what you do…”
Well here’s the truth. My life is full. I am a full-time student and I still have to work because I do have to pay bills and yes, I do have 4 children. I don’t sleep enough and I don’t socialize enough because I don’t have enough time to do either of those things. So yeah, I am a little stressed out. But nobody forced me to return to college. My life circumstances kind of forced me to do so, but yeah, I still chose. And the last time I was stressed out because of college I quit college, and there is no way that I am going to do that again. So the stress that comes with it? Part of the package. If those people wanted to do it, they could, too.
(So I don’t know why I need to point out these things to people who could care less why I
know think that my life is so stressful).
The truth is it’s not fair to measure anyone else by our own struggles, whatever they may be. Because yeah, it’s true; we may have it worse than that person. But that’s really a matter of our own personal opinion, and not one that should be up for debate. And yeah, maybe we do exaggerate how bad we think we have it. But it isn’t anyone elses job to tell us that we’re exaggerating. If we are exaggerating, we need to figure that out for ourselves.
Isn’t everyone entitled to feel the way they do, no matter what anyone thinks?
I think so.