Pain, Ranked

An ingrown hair is nothing compared to trying on a bunch of clothes that don’t fit

Painful Joints - 3D Illustration
Life Is...

Pain may be universal, but the particulars of it are not. Even to doctors, who deal with affliction every day, interpreting and understanding shades of pain is a notoriously difficult task. The degree to which something hurts, whether that hurt is felt physically or emotionally or existentially, what kinds of discomforts even qualify as hurt — these are all subjective to the individual. One man’s suffering is another man’s cherished high.

This is just one blogger’s opinion, but here are my pains, in ascending order:

40. Stubbed toe

39. Getting rejected by an animal I’m just trying to pet

38. Running a papercut under water

37. Nobody in my workplace’s Slack remembering my birthday even though it’s kind of a tradition to post “It’s so-and-so’s birthday!” in the main channel every time it’s so-and-so’s birthday

36. Watching a sad movie

35. The death of a distant relative who I’ve only met twice in my life

34. Remembering oh yeah, I haven’t seen most of my family in two years

33. Sore muscles the morning after exercising for the first time in a while, a kind of satisfying ache

32. Ingrown hair

31. Guilt over the time my brother, through frustrated tears, told my mother and I that we had forgotten it was his 18th birthday

30. Combing out tangled hair and ripping through a knot so hard it comes off

29. As a teen, the news that a favorite member of a K-pop group was leaving the band, back when I believed that those who sang and danced together would stay together

28. FOMO, usually when scrolling through photos or short-form videos of acquaintances having fun together

27. Standing on the outskirts of a circle of strangers at a party, smiling and trying to pretend I’m participating in their conversation

26. Brushing against a hot kettle

25. When suddenly my leg cramps up and feels like it’s being stretched apart like a rubber band and I go “ouch”

24. Reading a sad story about an animal who was abandoned or trapped or killed or lost its favorite toy

23. Biting a piece of candy that’s so hard it feels like it loosened my tooth from my gums

22. Trying on a bunch of clothes that don’t fit

21. Post-bike accident skinned knee

20. Knowing my favorite internet pets will soon die and/or knowing that some have already died

19. Missing home

18. Witnessing someone talk shit about me behind my back

17. Preteen angst, convinced my parents didn’t like me

16. Feeling profoundly misunderstood

15. Wasp sting

14. Cutting open my head on the protruding corner of a medicine cabinet

13. When one side of a toenail gets infected after I cut it too deep because no one ever taught me to cut straight across and leave the corners

12. Remembering injustices and/or war atrocities

11. Feeling invisible that time I sprained my ankle while sightseeing atop a mountain and nobody around me initially noticed or offered help as I was limping my way back to the cable car to descend down the mountain

10. That time I sprained my ankle while sightseeing atop a mountain

9. Slammed door meets hand

8. Reflecting on the future of the planet

7. Gaping gum abscess

6. Knowing my pet will soon die

5. The aftermath in the years following a pet dying

4. The aftermath in the days and weeks following my pet dying

3. Waking up with a pounding throb in the head after staying up too late

2. Thinking of my mom dying someday

1. The feeling that precedes diarrhea: a warning signal, an alarm, an ominous gurgling of the stomach while something begins to stir in the bowels, like a poisonous snake suddenly uncoiling itself and striking swiftly. Even worse if a toilet isn’t immediately accessible, in which case the pain multiplies with each passing — excruciating — minute. Oh, agony! Oh, relief! upon finally finding a porcelain throne. But it’s not over yet. Sometimes the lead-up is only half the battle; the other half takes place on the toilet, body clenched, legs twisted, hands white-knuckle-gripping any fixed surface within reach. It’s a fight for fucking survival in there.