I might hate this combination of words more than any other phrase in all of language: it could be worse. Four words, not one is incredibly mighty on its own, but when they’re joined, they pack a wallop of attitude. “It Could Be Worse” (ICBW) is condescending, dismissive, and, perhaps worst of all, final. How should do you respond? No, it couldn’t be worse? You can’t reply that way because, in actuality, it probably could be worse. But that doesn’t mean you want to or have to hear it.
Life is hard. It is. There are many, many wonderful aspects to it, and I do not take for granted that I get to breathe and blink and be when others are denied that privilege. HOWEVER, stop effing reminding me of that when I am complaining about my shit! I can love my life and hate it all at the same time. I’m really THAT talented. Watch.
My kids are awesome!
My kids are not awesome!
See what I did there? Two complete thoughts that I mean completely. Life isn’t black and white, cut and dry, right and wrong, so why would my feelings about it be? Sometimes, my complaints are on my mind, so they are going to be on my tongue as well. Deal, bitches. At some point, someone will do something cute or nice or funny, and I promise to post a Facebook status, that you will skim over, all about it. I might even give you the opportunity to roll your eyes at a wholesome food photo on Instagram. But while I’m singing a sad, sad song, put your Eeyore costume on, and join me for my pity party!
I know ICBW isn’t always intended to be as rude as it is. Oftentimes, you just want to let your friend know that chipped nail polish can be repaired, and we need to get a move on, so please stop whining about the manicure and let’s go! Use different words to convey that message. ICBW is just a veiled way of saying “your problems don’t matter.” How seriously shitty is that? And, by the by, who made you judge and jury? Like I said, of course it could be worse. That doesn’t mean that I can’t be upset about how bad it actually is. When you use ICBW, you’re just putting an end to the conversation, forcing me to bottle my feelings, making me pin a passive-aggressive someecard on Pinterest, and getting told off later when I’m alone in the shower. Just agree with me! Commiserate! Give me a comrade in my private war on the world. A little validation, a morsel of compassion, and a dash of time will win this battle. Need examples? Try these alternatives to ICBW:
Wow, that episode of Downtown Abbey sounds awful!
Ketchup DOES totally suck!
Yes, I agree. Julia Roberts really is a bitch.
I hate Pringles too. They are the WORST!
I don’t know why it would dare to rain today. Stupid sky!
Nickelback again? FUCK.
No one needs to be reminded that their spouses are not deployed soldiers in a war zone. No one has forgotten that children are starving in third world countries. No one is unaware that cancer exists. Yes, a dose of perspective can be helpful at times, but when you’re in the middle of pouring your heart out, feeling vulnerable and raw, what could be worse than being told that your personal worries are unfounded and unreasonable? Not decaf coffee, not a surprise visit from your in-laws, not a month old banana hidden behind the couch. None of that could be worse than basically being told to shut it.
Whether or not it could be worse is irrelevant.
The Man’s work schedule is super suck-o. I never wanted to be married and single, in love and lonely. The girl will not stop with tantrums about everything, all day, forever. Dear God, let it just be a stage. The boy is, well, the boy. Am I doing right by him? And the baby? Nah, that kid’s too cute for complaint. The bills are always pouring in, so the budget is always on my mind. Someone is constantly sick, and someone else is constantly in need of yet another appointment. Again and again and again! My weight, my lack of free time, my chores, my work. The past, the present, the future. Worries about keeping the romance alive, raising the babes well, and being the absolute best version of myself (and nothing less) can get to a Lady. OF COURSE, I’m going to drink a cup of haterade every now and then and let my anger loose! It doesn’t mean I would trade all these people and my first world problems for someone else’s woes. I’m just having a moment. Let me have my moment!
Now, before the Debbie Downers of the world start rejoicing (wouldn’t that be ironic?), I’m not saying we need a carte blanche for the blues. I understand that there are definitely appropriate levels of bitching and that there’s only so much sadness a person can listen to before wanting to block your number. How about we meet in the middle, though? Let’s agree to get rid of ICBW altogether. For real. Never, ever utter those words again! They hold no value, so let’s just trash them and move on.
On the flip side, be sure to listen to yourself and take stock every now and again. Do you complain all day, everyday? Are you spending hours distracted by getting revenge on whoever wronged you this time? Is your life made worse by the anger or sadness you are holding on to? Then maybe you need the kind of therapy that Mark Zuckerburg doesn’t provide. And there’s no shame in that! Get on with your therapy self! Talk, behavioral, cognitive, or medicinal options all exist just for you. Use them to your heart’s content…because they will actually make your heart content.
But if you just want to vent for a bit, then do it and know it really, truly, honestly is okay to complain! You don’t have to be grateful for every single second you’ve been given. It’s not only exhausting but impossible. Who needs that additional pressure?
Your problems are real. Your unhappiness is real. Your feelings are real.
If you set them free, then you can work through your issues and move on. Curse, cry, or complain them out of your system. Sometimes all you need is a little bitchfest to feel better. So rage on, dear reader! The Lady will be raging right along with you.