In a piece entitled Pain Is Silly! Be Prepared With Your Own Mini-Pharmacy, Slate's Mark Joseph Stern writes:
Why should you have to experience minor pain?
How about this:
The world is getting soft. Too soft. Also overmedicated. Overindulged. Coddled.
I attended college full time, earning two degrees simultaneously at two separate universities while serving as the Treasurer of the Student Senate, President of the National Honor Society, and columnist for the school newspaper. I did all this while managing a McDonald's restaurant full-time, working in the school's writing center part-time, and launching a small business that is still operating today.
Minor pain? Give me a break.
And I certainly wasn't the only one I knew who was doing everything possible in order to excel.
I had friends who worked two and even three minimum wage jobs in order to avoid living at home with their parents. I had friends who joined the military and fought in Operation Desert Storm for the sole purpose of paying for their college education. I had friends living three and four and five in a single bedroom apartment to make rent. My best friend graduated from Bryant University (with honors) with a degree in computer science and then took jobs as an assistant manager at a department store and an overnight cleaner at a fast food restaurant for almost a year until he finally landed a job in his chosen field.
These were not men and women who worried about minor pain. These were not soft people. These were not folks prone to medication in order to relieve a sore back, a wrenched knee, or a stubbed toe. These were individuals who stepped over pain and suffering and sacrifice like it was a meaningless, insignificant nuisance in order to make their dreams come true.
I like Mark Joseph Stern. I read his work in Slate quite often. I listen to him when he appears on their podcasts. He's an excellent writer and an interesting thinker.
But I am not a fan of this piece, nor am I a fan of his idea of carrying a mini-pharmacy wherever you go or medicating every minor pain you experience.
In Stern's own words, neither is anyone else.
Ironically, I'm a person who believes in being prepared for almost everything. My years in Boy Scouts drilled this habit into me. The trunk of my car contains a first aid kit, blankets, and an extra set of clothes. My backpack has office supplies that I will probably never use. I stock every type of battery in my home at all times. I have 20 gallons of water stored in my basement in case of an emergency.
But in a world where children are now wrapped in bubble wrap and treated like China dolls, where playground surfaces are made of rubber and the idea of turning off a cell phone for the duration of a movie is unthinkable, and where young people would prefer to live at home rather than work long hours at terrible jobs for terrible pay, a little bit of minor pain strikes me as something that we could use a little more of in this world.
There's a lot to be said in favor of toughness. Grit. Tenacity. Relentlessness. Resilience. Physical, mental, and emotional fortitude. The acceptance of struggle and hardship and pain on the road to success.
There is no room for mini-pharmacies on that road.
Grin and bear it. Accept a little minor pain every now and then. You'll be the better for it.