The ‘Suck it Up Phenomenon’: Choosing the hunt for success over our own happiness


By Mary Ann Omoscharka

I want you to take a few minutes and think of three factors that you believe make you successful as a person. Is it the A’s that you keep on collecting in class? The internships and jobs you have managed to obtain? Are you a loyal friend, a caring girlfriend or a loving boyfriend? Maybe, all of the above?

So what is success? Let’s talk definitions. According to Psychology Today, “success is the achievement of a goal and the attainment of a higher social status relative to that goal”. On the other hand, they say that “happiness is far more abstract”. That is obviously because every single one of us has their own perception of that term. I felt happy today because a barista at a coffee shop drive-through told me I had a cool accent. That was literally the highlight of my day. A free cookie would have been nice as well though.

When I asked you to think about your own success, I wanted you to come up with three things that you appreciate about yourself. Some of you are probably doing the exact opposite right now, sitting in doubt and panic. And that is just obnoxious, don’t you agree? We all need to have confidence in what we are best at. That is key for establishing your own, personal brand. Yet, the expectations and competition today are so high, that we are often oblivious of our value and blindly continue in hunting down opportunities and “success gems”  to put on our resume, believing we are not good or ready enough, not yet.

Now, I would like to introduce you to the so-called “Suck it up” phenomenon. You know, when you don’t really like doing something but you still do it because you tell yourself you are not a quitter and that you just need to suck it up? That is exactly what I’m talking about. We are constantly reminded to challenge ourselves and set higher goals. There is nothing wrong with that, since we can never know how much we can handle until we have to face our barriers and tear them down. However, you need to set your priorities straight. Some things are not worth running after, if all they do is turn you into a miserable person. Do you hate your job? Do you think medicine is not the right career for you? Do you feel like you are not learning what you need? You have the right to change this. Do not quit. Change the path that will help you become what you strive to be. For example, I have myself found out that when all I do is (and let me quote Queen RiRi here) “work, work, work, work, work, work”, I don’t have enough inspiration to write. I am as empty as a college student’s fridge. No exciting revelations, not nearly enough new fascinating people to share their stories with me. Unless you are a firm reincarnation believer, you know you get to do this only once. All you need is a good laugh and something or someone to make your heart skip a beat. That’s where the magic is born.

If you are lucky enough to have the right friends, you will be reminded of your qualities every time you tend to forget. Personally, I prefer socializing with a collective of overachievers. My friends lead extremely busy and accomplished lives and whenever I feel like having a lazy day, I just remind myself of how hard-working they are. That keeps me moving on because I hate feeling like I am staying behind in the whole “life success” game.

And why shouldn’t we all have a lazy day anyways? Sometimes, you just don’t have the appropriate amount of energy nor motivation to get out of bed and suck it up. Stay in, watch four cycles of Law & Order and order those fried pork dumplings that you have been craving since you started chewing on carrots two weeks ago. Enjoy it. You can rule the Universe tomorrow.