Trauma is not competition

Katya Tarabrina, Organizations Editor

So often we hear people complain about things that are going on in their lives or things they went through in the past. We are traumatized by the things that happen to us. Every single situation can affect someone differently compared to other people. Whether you went through something small or something big, does not change the fact that it has impacted you and affected your life and wellbeing. 

People will try to tell you that your pain is minuscule compared to that of others. When we share what has happened to us with other people, some start to talk about something that happened to them relating to that. It could be a small similarity or a big one.

However, that is a closed minded way of thinking. Everybody has demons. Everybody goes through something every day. Whether it’s not getting enough sleep or losing a friend, there will always be someone that has it worse than you. But that does not make what you went through mean any less. Either way someone can — even if its subconsciously — tell that person, because they have gone through more, their pain isn’t as important in the big picture.

When guest speaker Nathon Harmon came to Manhattan High on Sept. 4, he explained how his trauma has affected him. A lot of people decided he was extorting the situation for money. He didn’t know real pain, they said. He just blamed the whole situation on his problems instead of on himself.
The thing is, he never blamed what he went through on the car accident. He didn’t say “Something led me to cause a car accident,” because that is a small part of the picture. He didn’t do it because something specific pushed him to do it. 

It was a sequence of events, a sequence of small things that built up inside him that broke him down. They broke him down so much that they caused him to be so hurt inside that it started affecting the way he felt about himself. 

And no matter how much you say this isn’t true, if you don’t care about yourself and your well-being, how could you care about other people’s? When you don’t even have time to think about yourself and think about your future, how would you have time to think about other people? 

Just because the things that affected Harmon didn’t affect you the same way does not make his hurt any less valid. You can’t just say “I went through worse” and then have another person’s pain go away with that phrase. They still feel what they feel, they still are impacted the way they are. Maybe you can handle more than they could at the time. 

Our environments also affect the way we react to situations. If you grew up in a loved, well-taken-care-of, well-off environment, tiny things that happen may seem stupid and not worth being upset about. But if you grew up in a less fortunate environment, how can you be sure what tiny thing will break you down entirely? 

Your perception of what is “the lowest point” is completely different than other people’s. Do not use trauma to excuse your behavior towards people you think “went through less.” 

Just because you think that your problem is larger compared to someone else’s doesn’t mean they can’t talk about it and share it with people. And if you did go through something huge, to make the best of the situation and trying to help others understand themselves better should be your top priority. Not shame others for not being as strong as you.