How often do we say, “that is the WORST thing!”? We say that about: paper cuts, lemon juice in your eye, stubbing your toe, jamming your finger, getting banged in the funny bone. Pretty much anything that sucks is “the worst thing”. But isn’t that just a LITTLE bit of an exaggeration? Is stubbing your toe worse than breaking your femur? Is a paper cut worse than drowning? PROBABLY not.
Hands down the worst thing that has ever happened to me was getting a C-section. Recovering from that was pure torture. There’s another thing. In all honesty, wouldn’t actual torture be worse? Like, getting your toenails ripped off one by one or having your fingers cut off with a cigar cutter? THAT’S torture. But I digress. I’d take a natural birth over a C-section any day. But I tell my son all the time, “oh, that is the worst!” when he complains about something. Really? Having a nagging cough at night is worse than getting stripped bare and “gutted like a trout” (I got that one from The Onion)?
I guess it’s all about showing empathy. We want people to know we feel for them and, “What a bummer!” just doesn’t seem to do it. But then again, aren’t we making the people in the hospital for a broken femur feel bad by telling people that a hangnail is the worst thing?
I guess it comes down to judging the situation. If you happen to be in the hospital with your wife who is in labor, you really don’t want to start complaining about your hemorrhoids. On the other hand, if your 3-yr-old fell and scraped their hands (which is worse than scraping your knees!) you’re not gonna tell them, “Suck it up, it’s not like you’re being buried alive or anything!!”
So go ahead and show empathy, just don’t pity yourself and your broken nail, which actually really does hurt, because there’s always someone who has it worse, like a guy being struck by lightning.