Thursday, June 7, 2012

is all stress created equal?

The other afternoon I was lunch with some coworkers, welcoming a new hire. We were seated at a newer hot spot, and the service couldn't have been slower.

"The problem with lunching in Westport," I said to the group, "is that they assume everyone is a Westport Mommy who doesn't work and has all day to sit here and eat lunch because her Nanny is entertaining the kids."

My coworker – a hard-working VP (who happens to have a Nanny) – replied, "I've learned that everyone has their stressors."

Silently I agreed with her - to a point. I have all the respect in the world for Stay At Home's a ridiculously hard job that I'm not sure I could ever do. Their harried days make new business pitches and cross-country travel seem like a cake walk.

She continues, "Compare our jobs to people fighting cancer. Don't our stresses seem silly?" 

Well, of course they do. Worrying about getting a QR code approved pales in comparison to waiting to hear about life-threatening test results. 
I want to tell her that I held a full-time job AND fought cancer, but she doesn't know that and doesn't really need to. And I don't feel like derailing the conversation right now, especially with a new hire.

I'm not talking about people who were unfortunately laid off or searching for work, and stressing about making ends meet. I'm talking about the women who live in affluent communities, who don't work OR have children. Who spend their days on the Avenue or attending fund-raising benefits. Are their stressors the same?

"My cousin's wife doesn't work," another coworker piped up, "and they don't have kids yet. She mostly plays tennis every day with her friends, and is always complaining about how she doesn't like the tennis balls one lady brings, how they don't bounce well off her racket, and how she can't always find a playing partner. And she's always SO busy. It's kind of crazy."

"Those aren't stresses," I calmly reply. "They're called 'white people problems'."

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