First World Problems

I just can’t find the right shade of foundation.  My back hurts.  The dog needs a bath.  Oh, the curse of first world problems. (Not to be confused with middle class problems, of which more later).

Two years ago I was lucky enough to be working in Grand Cayman.  One evening, I was trying to have a Skype chat with a friend whilst on the balcony of my beachside condo. When I moaned to her that I would have to go inside because the sound of the waves crashing against the shore was so noisy that I couldn’t hear a thing (which she found hilarious) I became the sort of person who complained about the inconvenience of living right on the beach on a beautiful Caribbean Island.  As my mother would say “May all your problems be small ones”.

As the saying goes: if you are hungry and know when your next meal is coming from, you are wealthier than you think. Here in the first world we moan, whinge and carp our way through life with a sense of entitlement as our birthright.  When visiting West Africa several years ago I tried to explain anorexia and extreme dieting to some local women.  They were genuinely puzzled: in the third world where it is a daily struggle to eat, clothe and educate your family, it is inconceivable that someone would have plentiful food available and starve themselves.   Serious first world diseases such as eating disorders and depression, while devastating and very real in the Western world, were impossible for these women to grasp and must have seemed ridiculous to someone who couldn’t afford food or whose child had died through lack of basic medicine.

Far more flippant is the middle class problem, a subset of the first world problem. “My local supermarket has stopped stocking organic oats”; “I can’t find a good dog behaviourist”; “the Tuscan villa has already been booked”.  (Usually wailed in despair as if the world is ending).  From solid working class stock myself, I find this hugely amusing;  nothing makes me more gleeful than moneyed and privileged people moaning about perceived hardships.  I want to holler “GET A LIFE” at the top of my voice.  And then continue complaining about the fact that my car needs two new tyres.

Perhaps we should all stop and count our blessings, myself included, and get some perspective.  I remember bemoaning the fact that my eyelashes were so long that they left mascara on my glasses.  Then when a nasty post eye surgery infection nearly left me blind in one eye, I couldn’t have cared less about eye make-up. I didn’t actually have any eyelashes left any way after the surgical tape had pulled them out…

If you look around there is always someone much worse off — and someone much better off.  But the super rich are, in my experience, rarely happy.  And if you need an excellent dog behaviourist, I know just the person.



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