I am the lucky 10%. This is not a statistic relevant to financial situation nor is a class rank. I, unlike the 90% of families in East Windsor, did not lose power during Hurricane Sandy.
My friends, who were taking refuge in my home after losing power, showed up to my house with upset dispositions. I even had one friend show up to my doorstep in tears! At the time, I could not comprehend what the big deal was. All they were going through was a few days without lights or television. I found myself spitting out a phrase that I now regret trying to comfort them with, “You could have it worse”.
Sure, that was true. Just forty-five minutes away, there were families who had lost their homes and belongings in the storm. But when the lights came back on in Mercer County and my visitors began dwindling down, I took a good look at what I had told my friends.
Despite the fact that my friends could have lost their homes rather than their power or their jobs rather than their cable, they were still going through a difficult time. I, being the first-world teenager that I am am, probably would’ve been in shambles having to shower sporadically or rely on someone else to eat a warm meal. And I, in retrospect, cannot even count the number of times that, while dealing with my own own issues, have been told that I “could have it so much worse”.
Just because there are “starving children in Africa” doesn’t mean someone isn’t allowed to be unhappy. No matter how trivial a person’s dilemma may seem, it does not change the fact that they are upset. And if somebody else has it much worse, that does not mean that you don’t have what you have. Because that’s the thing about pain: it demands to be felt. It is not our self will that is in control of our feelings, but a bunch of neurotransmitters. We can’t tell ourselves that because we aren’t upset for a “good enough” reason, we therefore should not be.
The 90% of families that lost their power in East Windsor could have certainly had it worse. But they didn’t. And while they had that to be thankful for, they didn’t need to walk around with smiles plastered on their faces because they still had their homes. They were still in an unfortunate situation. They were still irritated, impatient, or upset and they had every right to be.