Last week was not a great week for Gwyneth Paltrow. She announced her “conscious uncoupling” from Coldplay singer, Chris Martin. Many obnoxious comments followed. (I may or may not have made one of them.) Then there was the interview in which she seemed to say that it was much harder being an actress mom than for those women who worked 9-5 jobs. This, of course, also led to outrage, including this one from one of those working moms.
Now I know next to nothing about Gwyneth Paltrow besides the fact that she probably would refuse to go to Krystal’s with me if we ever met. But it seems to me that Gwynnie had a case of a very common ailment: She’s gotten so caught up in her own life that she can’t see outside of her own experience.
I’ve been there. Years ago, I was overwhelmed by a breakup that I couldn’t think of anything else. It went on so long that I probably lost friends over it. I was starring in my own melodrama, and I was devastated when others refused to continue being my supporting cast.
Last year was a tumultuous one for our college. At one point, a faculty member said that she was being treated like a factory worker. Now, I have no doubt that she believed it, and she saw herself as standing up for all the little people being oppressed, like an academic Norma Jean. As someone who worked in a factory for three summers to help pay for college, I knew that there is really no comparison, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind.
It’s human nature. We see our struggles as overpowering, even mythic, because we’re living them. Intellectually, we might know that others have it worse, but emotionally, we’re being punched in the gut and that’s all we can focus on. And that’s true whether we’re a professor or a student. Or Gwyneth Paltrow.
The only difference is that Gwyneth probably has a publicist who really should have known better.