I took psychology in high school. It was one of my favorite elective classes, right after study-hall and fundraiser candy-bar selling. I found it interesting, which means that unlike all the rest of those classes, elements of it really took root and stayed with me.
One of those lessons had to do with problems. I remember my teacher telling us that a problem is a problem and someone struggling in the midst of something doesn’t have the immediate ability to keep things in proper perspective. He shared some stories of teenagers who had committed suicide over acne. Now, the truth is, these kids were probably suffering from a lot more than acne – perhaps they were teased or bullied, perhaps there was untreated mental illness, abuse, who knows what. But in the class, the premise was that even though acne seems like a very inconsequential problem to most of us, to a teenager struggling in the midst of it, acne can be a debilitating problem.
I have a pimple.
I’m not going to tell you what my metaphorical pimple is all about. If you want to know that, you’ll need to read everything I’ve written on my blog, Twitter, Facebook, my message boards, and maybe even Post-Secret and you’ll put all those tiny, boring puzzle pieces together and likely you’d still not know. Or maybe you would.
It doesn’t matter.
I have people I care about dealing with much bigger things – death, disease, infidelity. My pimple hardly matters in perspective to that.
And yet there it is, day after day, taking all my energy.
I’ve started to refer to the whole situation as my midlife crisis, and maybe that’s what it is. Who knows.
This post had a purpose when I started but now I don’t know what it was. Maybe I meant to say I do have perspective – I know that I am fortunate in a million ways. I know that there is so much good in my life. My husband is a loving and generous man. My kids are healthy and smart and gorgeous and funny. I am financially secure. I have something like 7,000 channels of television programming available to me, and a Jack-in-the-Box only a mile away.
My pimple is dwarfing all of that some days. You know it’s a problem because Jack-in-the-Box has these mini-corn-dogs now and my pimple is STILL overwhelming that awesomeness.
We all deal with our pimples differently. Me? I do this passive-aggressive thing where I talk about it all the time in vague and nebulous terms, using analogies and allegories, without giving any specifics. Annoying, right? Actually, I only do a little of that. Really, my way of dealing is to write angst-filled, dramatic blog posts, and then to practice total escapism on fourteen other social networks out there, and pick my private message board to vent all the bloody details on. You should say a prayer for my private message-board friends because someone could get hurt if this pimple were to explode all over that place.
Another reason I wanted to write this is because I know that many of you have pimples, too. Your pimples are probably not at all obvious to people from the outside, but they may be keeping you awake at night, making you cry until you can’t breathe, making you sign up for Twitter. Who knows. Maybe you don’t have a blog where you can write angst-ridden teenage drama posts like me. If that’s the case, then this post is for both of us, for all of us.
I’m sorry about your pimple. I know it hurts and you feel like you have no way to vanquish it, you have no one to talk to about it. After all, other people are dealing with real problems so you can’t whine about your pimple.
I get it.
From now on, let’s all just do that subtle thing where we make eye contact, give a little nod of the head, and keep going. It will be like our secret-handshake, like we’re saying “Yeah, I acknowledge your pimple, I have one too. I’m sorry man, this life stuff is damn hard some days.”