I win! My life is the worst!!

Whose life is worse?

This is a game that I’ve noticed that people love to play at work, at home, at school, standing in the grocery line, or anywhere. It is a pointless and irritating reverse one-upmanship game that baffles me.

 It goes something like this:

Jane: Ugh, so tired. I was up with the baby last night. I only got four hours of sleep.

Jill: Four hours? You’re lucky. Try three and most of those I was sleeping in a recliner with Baby J on top of me.

Jane: Wow, that’s tough. I wouldn’t mind so much except this was the second night in a row and my husband sleeps right through it. How can he not hear her crying??

Jill: Oh, how nice for you that your husband’s home at night. Jack travels all the time for work and basically lives in a hotel. And this was my fourth consecutive night sleeping in the recliner.

In case you couldn’t guess, Jill likes to play the “My Life is the Worst” game. She is what I would call a competitive conversationalist. Shutting her down involves walking away or admitting defeat. “Yes, Jill, your life truly sucks. Congratulations!”

I am always left wondering why people play this game. Who wants to have the hardest, worst, most unpleasant life? Is there a prize for winning that I don’t know about?

There are several variations of this games that perhaps you’ve witnessed or participated in yourself in one of your various social circles.

School Work

Example: I’m SO stressed. I have five exams in three days and two papers due on top of that. I know it’s exam week for everyone, but my exams are super important. Also, no offense, but I’m an engineering major so my classes are way harder than everyone else’s.

Prepare yourself for some major exaggerations when people start comparing school schedules and assignments. I’m pretty removed from this particular competition, but my daughters tell me all about it!

Sick Children

Example: My Billy has had four ear infections this year. Amoxicillin does nothing for him now. You have NO idea.

This one is the biggest mind boggler for me. Doesn’t everyone want a healthy child? This competition is popular with the young mommies who compare whose child has the most ear infections, tummy bugs, trips to the clinic, etc.

Busyness of Life

Example: Try getting three kids off to two different schools and then heading in for room mom duties where I run the reading centers and then plan the holiday parties. Thank goodness those teachers have me. After school is no better. It’s soccer, dance, swim, dinner, homework, reading time and then fall into bed. Of course, housework is squeezed in wherever; we don’t have a cleaning service like most people around here.

This is probably the most common variation of the “Whose Life is Worse” game. I think people love being busy and this is just a different way of bragging about how much they have going on in their lives. More equals better, right??

 Still more variations:

  • Worst labor and delivery story?
  • Spouse who travels the most?
  • Laziest, most inattentive spouse?
  • Who is the most broke?
  • Who works the most hours?
  • Worst job/worst boss?
  • Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.


A Few More Types of Competitive Conversationalists

I have been guilty of a few of these myself!

The Combative Conversationalist: This person argues with pretty much every point you make. Conversation with this person is a sport where there must be a winner and a loser.

The Yeller: This person uses a loud voice to over-talk those around them which often intimidates others and allows them dominate the conversation. Interrupting them won’t work as they will only talk louder!

The Fact Checker: This person always has their iPhone handy so they can on-the-spot correct you every time you are even a little bit wrong. Being right is important to this know-it-all.

The Bragger: This person is very skilled at dropping names or facts that make them look good into ANY conversation. They think they’re being subtle, but…no, they’re not.

The Lecturer: This person likes to educate others and explain to them how things “really are.” Points are presented as facts and not softened with phrases such as “In my opinion…” or “It is my understanding…” Please don’t try to share your viewpoints with this person; they aren’t interested.

For tips on being a sparkling conversationalist check out my post here.

Have you had any run-ins with competitive conversationalists?

Do you have any new types to add to my list?

21 thoughts on “I win! My life is the worst!!

  1. this entire post is pretty much the premise of one of my favourite songs from a musical – ‘sucks to be me’ from avenue q!

    and while i have encountered quite a few of these scary conversationalists, i usually have to fend off another type – the praiser…”oh miki, you’re so [insert flattering adjective here]!! i wish i could be like you..” “uh, heh heh, i’m not that great honestly…” “but you are!! [more flattery]” you either keep rebutting everything they say about you, flatter them back or risk sounding like a horrible narcissist…

    • Interesting…is the praiser for real, is the praise genuine? Or are they fishing for compliments? I mean, obviously, you are very awesome and talented so I assume the compliments are genuine. Sometimes, though, girls like to dole this stuff out when they or looking for some feedback about themselves. OR…they are trying to trap you into accepting the praise so they can call you arrogant. Perhaps I’ve watched Mean Girls one too many times! 🙂 You are amazing, though….:)

      • it really depends on who it is..you’ve gotta be wary out there ;D i’ve seen many an attention seeker on instagram and other social networks, and it’s extremely cringey to see somebody take the bait and the flattery go back and forth. and thank you very much as always ^///^

  2. Gosh, I think I’ve run into all of them!!! The Yeller is at the top of the list. Being Italian, it comes in the genes. I’m not a competitive person so I tend to drop out of “worst life” contests. I do know some people who do seem to have to “win” every conversation- no matter how unimportant it is!

  3. Great post! I pretty much just slotted my entire family into one of the categories you offered here. My mom is the worst combative conversationalist; she challenges me on the facts of my own story. I’ve all but given up on telling her things.

    And I think the Fact Checker category has exploded over the past 10 years or so. I’ve noticed my early-twenties niece and nephew can’t handle knowing something immediately. They must look it up on their phones.

    • I agree, the Fact Checker category has exploded. No more long debates and discussions trying to figure out the answer to questions…just look it up and you’re done. I kind of miss those days…

  4. Oh, you think this is bad? Well, you should try…..No, I’m not really going to do that…..just couldn’t resist starting off that way. Good post. Like your term of combative conversationalist! Nice to have a tag for these people!

  5. This is great! I’ll bet everyone reading had someone in mind for each category. I know I did! I make a concerted effort every day to not fall into these categories and just be a listener and contributor. Whenever I slip, I’m totally embarrassed and frustrated with myself!

    • Me too. I recognize these conversation styles in others, but also in myself. I don’t like to ever have the worst life, but I am super proud of my kids so I can be kind of braggy. 😦 Trying to tone that down… Thanks for you comments!!

  6. This was GREAT and perfect timing!! Had a friend over the other evening and I don’t think I finished a single story or thought I was sharing because this friend had a worse/bigger story EVERY TIME!!!!! My hubby made note of this after she left, so it wasn’t all in my head. Fun read! 🙂

  7. Oh man! You must know the same people I do. They don’t even let you finish your story before they are one upping you! In Spanish we call it the, “Eso no es nada syndrome” (that’s nothing).

    After taking my niece to some DBT therapy (behavioral therapy) I polished my listening skill as well as my empathy and validating skills. It’s so important to do that first and foremost before launching into your own story. Great post.

    • Thank you! I was a bit worried about this post because I feel it is kind of snarky and that isn’t really who I am. However, these are some very real observations I’ve made in life as well as pet peeves of mine. Thanks for the feedback! 🙂

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