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.
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!
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.