The Hardship Olympics


October 27, 2011 by Marj Hatzell

Wanna know what kinda irks me? When someone is having  a rough go at life and someone else is all SO WHAT WE ALL HAVE CROSSES TO BEAR SUCK IT UP AND DEAL WITH IT.

Just so you know, invalidating someone else’s feeling is cruel. And stupid. And mean. And makes you a big doo-doo head.

Look folks, there’s no Hardship Olympics. There’s no gold medal in “He who hath the sh*ttiest life.” Yes, everyone has their crosses to bear. Everyone has a skeleton in their closet. No one, I repeat NO ONE has an Ozzie-and-Harriet lifestyle. That whole fifties thing? Doesn’t exist.

BUT. When people are having a tough time? Telling them EVERYONE has a rough time (even if it is true) just makes them feel sh*ttier. Empathizing with them? Saying, “I don’t know how you feel but here’s a hug.” or “I know how you feel. Strength in numbers and whatnot.” These are acceptable responses.Sometimes people who are hurting just need to get it out, like. You know, out in the open? And just have someone hear them so they feel better. Better out than in, yes? (GUFFAW)

I get the feeling that some people have low self-esteem and they cannot STAND IT when other people have it worse than them, or better than them, or anything than them. Basically, they are attention whores. Their disability is worse than yours. Their life is worse, their husband makes less money, their kids are sicker, their house is smaller, hell, even their DOG has more issues.


I mean, when did it become acceptable to one-up someone constantly? When did it become ok to be all “You have it bad? I HAVE IT WORSE NOW SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE.”


Golly. I was just thinking. I hope i don’t come across that way. I mean, sure I’ve been frustrated with folks when they are all I ONLY GOT SIX HOURS OF SLEEP!  WAAAAAH! because, well, I wanna slap them sorta. A little bit, secretly like.  But really, I mean, I am hoping I don’t come across as MY LIFE SUCKS AND YOURS DOESN’T or MY LIFE IS WORSE THAN YOURS BECAUSE OF MY KIDS or MY KID’S AUTISM IS WORSE THAN YOUR KID’S AUTISM because that’s totally not my intention. And if I am like that?

Slap me.

Well, at least let me know. I’m a delicate flower and bruise easily. And slapping is all violent and stuff. Ahem.

But really. Although, I do have to admit, when someone bitches about something their normal, perfectly developed child is doing I may or may not get slightly annoyed because I’m all DUDE. YOUR KID IS TALKING AND YOU WANT HIM TO SHUT UP? I mean that in the nicest way. Like, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Look at the awesomeness you have before you and cherish everyday. In a life-is-to-short-relish-every-moment kind of way, not a YOU SUCK, COMPLAINER! Sort of way. Now does it make sense? A little?  Hope so.

Anyways. What do you think of one-uppers?

21 thoughts on “The Hardship Olympics

  1. She Started It says:

    I can’t stand people who stay stuff like that. It’s really so heartless, and the ultimate in being judgmental. Days after one of my miscarriages, people (people I knew and loved) would say– EVERYBODY has miscarriages. You’re lucky it happened so EARLY!

    Really, I wanted to kill them.

  2. punkymama says:

    We all have it bad in our own way. One uppers suck

  3. Meg says:

    Truer words have never been spoken! People who constantly insist that they have the most to complain about really get under my skin. Surprisingly though, as I have recently found myself in one of those rough patches of life, a few friends who (sadly but honestly) DO have it worse have in fact been the most supportive. The one-uppers, on the other hand, are always the ones with the least room to complain. Funny how that works!
    PS — I love your writing, and I definitely don’t think you come across this way at all — I am constantly amazed by the way you take everything in stride and refuse to let even the toughest things get you down!

  4. sigh…i so get this. I deal with one uppers daily.

  5. Crissie says:

    This is why I try to no longer say anything in my life is wrong. I get tired of people not being compassionate. I no longer look to family or friends to comfort me because they don’t really want to hear it anyway.

  6. Dawn says:

    i call it having an MSG personality. If you’ve climbed a mountain, they climbed on higher. If you have a papercut, they’ve got a gaping torso wound. If you have a cold, they’ve got the flu that was on Contagion.

    After a while, these people don’t come back into my life. i wonder why? perhaps my stoic silence at their proclamations?

    And i’ve had the miscarriage thing too. and you look at people like “really? THAT’S all you could come up with?”

    THis is why i am a misanthrope, and why i only communicate with people on the interwebs. And sometimes the grocery. but only if i HAVE to.

  7. Melissa Kirk says:

    My blog is bloggier than your blog.

  8. zmulls says:

    “I had to get up in the morning at ten o’clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.” — Monty Python

    “Tragedy is when I prick my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open manhole and die.” — Mel Brooks

  9. Right on Marj! This even happens in our household, when dh gets home complaining about how long and tiring and stressful his day was, I jump right in on the hardship-olympics-500-meter freestyle. And guess what? I NEVER WIN.

  10. Christine says:

    zmulls, dude! First you’re on the BPAL forums giving me great recommendations, then you pop up at my friend’s blog referencing Monty Python. It’s a small world, and apparently you’re awesome throughout it.

    As for you, DG, all I can say is Holy kow, I know exactly what you’re talking about!

  11. Heather says:

    I don’t see any reason for one-upping someone. I’d rather try and be helpful, whether it’s advice if they wish, or just a supportive ear.

  12. anneg45 says:

    I don’t mind when people vent. It’s those who throw 24/7/365 pity parties that I can’t stand, and I have to resist the urge to smack them very hard upside the head.

  13. […] my perspective is that life makes you feel that way anyway. There ain’t no Hardship Olympics, folks. We’re all challenged, we’ve all got stuff to deal with. Some more than others. […]

  14. kermommy says:

    I love to complain. When it gets really bad is when I tend to get quieter. My sister in law is at stress level 9 all the damn time, especially with her kids. She has the same semi hysterical reaction to everything from sibling stuff to anaphylactic shock. Her kids have genuine problems with severe allergies, but it is really hard to sympathize with someone who is constantly telling you they are in crisis, whether anything is particularly wrong or not. It looks exhausting. Her attitude makes me feel better about my own bitching now and then. At least I generally have a reason when I really bug out.

  15. Im an autism mom and i wrote a blog recently “yes, but is he as bad as rainman?”

    thats what its like..daily!! Yeh well my kids smears, my kids non verbal, my kid can count how many matchsticks are on the floor!!!

    Yada yada yada!!

  16. onthebeans says:

    That “always in crisis” thing is so irritating. I have a coworker like that. Everything is a massive crisis all the time. IMO, she has no clue what a crisis really is. But I say nothing.

    Also, I spent a lot of years feeling guilty that I was so miserable even though my kid was a) talking and b) still alive, and other people’s kids (with the same issues my kid has) weren’t. And my therapist once said other people’s pain has no relevance to mine. Just because other people have lost more or suffer more hardships doesn’t mean my pain isn’t real too. That was pretty eye opening. We all have a right to our feelings.

  17. 5feline5 says:

    People desperately seek validation, and some people don’t feel like they can ask for it on account of anything positive in their lives, so they do it by one upping. I find it very hard to keep in mind that the person doing this is actually trying to get their needs met- especially because it Drives. Me. Nuts. But it does help… some… to remind myself of that fact.

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