This is a blog about the time I decided I hate perspective, but then went on to hate it a little bit less.
Blame the Wallflower
There’s a line in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower that, for a while, made me feel angry about the use of perspective: ‘And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.’
This one line made me think that all perspective was good for was drawing attention away from your problems and onto someone else’s. Often these weren’t related to your problems in any way, and were just a quick distraction.
I get that there are starving children in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact I’ve lost my store discount card.
Another reason perspective annoyed me was because it’d become a situational cliché. How many people have used it when they’re trying to cheer someone up? Lots!
Eventually, I realised these thoughts on perspective were doing something to me: they were turning me into an arsehole.
If someone was trying to make me feel better by saying my situation could be a lot worse, I’d reply with something like ‘But my toe really hurts. What does that have to do with Ebola?’
I ultimately calmed down and recognised when someone uses perspective, they’re only trying to help. I can appreciate that.
But I think it should be used with more caution and consideration. If it can be avoided, then it should be avoided. If it has to be used, maybe it could benefit from being made more personal to the one who’s upset.
If you have a friend who didn’t get their dream job, then tell them about a time you messed up a job interview. If you use perspective like this, you’re empathising with their situation in a way that’s more relatable.
It took one line in a book to make me rage against perspective. I’m still a little bit sceptical about it, but now I understand it’s used with good intentions.