2 min read

Are your problems worse than mine?

These days, all I talk about are wrestling and biotechnology. Less than a month ago, I knew nothing about them. My friends are all strangers to them, as I am. They want to know, “Isn’t that hard?”

I don’t know. Probably? The thing is, I don’t think it matters.

Here’s my theory: Difficulty – and suffering – cannot be compared.

I have experimented with many, different endeavors since I graduated in 2012 . They varied, not only in type, but in difficulty.

My first job was with a US-based consulting firm, Mitchell Madison Group (MMG). Our schedule when we were on site the client’s office was: go to office at 8 a.m., leave for dinner at 6 p.m., back at hotel to work with the team at 9 p.m., resume individual work at hotel room at 12 a.m., maybe finally go to bed at 3 a.m. Repeat.

How much suffering does an exhausting schedule cause you?

When I left MMG to start a marketing consulting firm, I ran my schedule, as well as my financials. Being self-employed, my income was erratic – so of course I worried constantly.

How much suffering does worrying about money cause you?

I just left my most recent startup, Coins.ph. The main reason was lack of autonomy. I felt like I couldn’t contribute, even if I worked ten to twelve hour-days. They are counting on you. You are not producing. You haven’t accomplished anything. It was a loop I couldn’t get my brain to opt out of. My boss and colleagues tried to convince me otherwise – it’s normal, it’s the nature of the job, our industry, etc. – but I was unconvinceable.

How much suffering does constant self-flagellation cause you?

What is worse – an exhausting schedule, financial worrying, or constant self-flagellation? I can’t tell.

And it doesn’t matter – that’s exactly the point.

While I was going through them – they were ALL hard. Each problem seemed like the hardest, the suffering the worst, ever.

Whether you suffer because you are in debt, overweight, or stuck in a job… The streetchild begging for money because he hasn’t eaten since two days ago is suffering worse than you, intellectually.

But does knowing about the streetchild help? It does not.

It doesn’t matter – your brain is going to come up with reasons to inflate your problems as the worst suffering ever. At least, the child does not feel social pressures to look a certain way. He has nothing to lose. Physical suffering you can handle, but psychic suffering? That’s tough.

Suferring cannot be compared, whether across domains or time.

Whatever suffering I am going through right now always feels like the worst. And I’m going to feel that way towards all my future difficulties.

All this to say… That’s why I don’t feel so intimated by biotechnology and wrestling.

If it’s all going to feel hard anyway? I might as well take on the more important undertaking, a challenge worthy of what I dare think myself capable of. Regardless of how difficult I perceive it to be.