When You Should Suck it Up in Life…and When You Shouldn’t Have To

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto
You have heard that phrase, right? From a parent, sibling, teacher, friend, whoever. It’s sort of a no-nonsense, tough-love kind of phrase right? When you tell someone, or someone tells you, to “suck it up,” either it refers to detailing with the consequences of something or remaining in a situation, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it may be.

To “suck it up” evokes feelings of toughness, bravery, and perseverance, which all sound very nice and admirable. But…doesn’t it seem like bad advice from the parents of Lizzie MacGuire or Malcom in the Middle?

Before I get on my soapbox, let me say this instead: in life, if you want to succeed and grow stronger and be better and work harder, you do not have to live with a “suck it up” attitude.

Oh there are certainly times when you definitely have to bite the bullet, face the music, or suck it up. But there are also times when you shouldn’t have to.


When you should suck it up: when you make a mistake.

Especially if it’s a big mistake. You might get a lecture or a punishment, but if your actions negatively affected someone else, suck it up and do whatever you can to fix the problem.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: pain.

You don’t have to tough it out through your period cramps! If you need them and are prescribed them, take your meds! Your body sometimes needs help to heal on its own. Have a concern? Call a doctor. No one gets brownie points for being able to deal with the most pain without help. If you let yourself complain without doing anything about it, you become bitter.

When you should suck it up: annoyance.

If you’re going to spend more energy being annoyed at something instead of directly dealing with it, let that annoyance go and suck it up. Yes, there will be people at work and in your life who get under your skin and just annoy you, but the endless tirade of complaints about said annoyance will suck the life out of you.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: unwanted attention or personal boundaries.

I originally typed “male” attention but honestly unwanted attention of any sort is, to me, a breach of personal boundaries. I have written off my instincts with men a stupidly large amount of times because I thought I was “just nervous around boys” or “had to be polite.” No! Don’t do that! In the words of goddesses Karen Killgariff and Georgia Hardstark of the podcast My Favorite Murder, when you’re a woman sometimes you gotta f— politeness in favor of your personal, physical, and emotional safety.

When you should suck it up: going to a very close friend’s party, baby shower, play, etc.

If it’s important to someone you care about, doesn’t cost oodles of money you don’t have, and doesn’t put you in a morally dubious position, heck yeah support them! You don’t have to go every shindig every time, but showing up means that you care, even if you don’t know anyone at the party, are going to smell like baby powder for a week, or if the play is bad.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: peer-pressure-induced “fun.”

Drink, smoke, party, eat shellfish, go to a parade, whatever. No one should be manipulated into having fun, and certainly not when the “fun” can make them anxious or uncomfortable. Once I was peer-pressured into watching Game of Thrones and although I’m pretty sure I got through several seasons, I didn’t like it. Maybe I’ll enjoy it one day, but being forced to watch a seemingly never-ending tirade of r*pe and gore turned me way off to the “fun” I was supposed to be having.

When you should suck it up: compliments.

Disclaimer here: cat-calls, veiled insults, and microaggressions are not compliments, even if the giver intended them to be nice! They’re not nice. When someone genuinely gives you a compliment, don’t brush it off. It can be a brave thing for someone to pay a compliment directly. Inspire kindness.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: when you deserve better.

If it feels like your doctor is writing you off, get another opinion! If someone is wearing you down with drama and pettiness, you don’t have to deal with it! If you feel like someone isn’t listening to your great ideas, get them to listen! Treat yourself with respect and surround yourself with love.


Yeah, sometimes we have to do things that we don’t particularly like, because that’s life. That doesn’t mean that we have to settle for the things that intrude on our safety, security, and happiness.

xoxo kat



41 thoughts on “When You Should Suck it Up in Life…and When You Shouldn’t Have To

  1. I agree you shouldn’t be forced into doing things, peer pressured. That is your own choice and you shouldn’t have to suck it up. Thank you.


    1. I agree with GiGi. You raise a lot of good comparisons here – but I find that the older/wiser one gets, the easier it is to just not go there when it comes to doing things/putting up with things you shouldn’t have to. There is a lot to be said for letting go of toxic people, toxic commitments, etc.


  2. I have read this post again and again and realized, god I suck it up often! Thank you for writing on this topic and guiding us when to take proper action ☺ great post!


  3. This is such a great way to distinguish between the situations! I feel like I do most of these right, but sometimes end up “sucking it up” when I don’t always have to. But, I am not one to just deal with pain or a bad physician. I didn’t like the pediatrician I had my boys at when one of them got sick, he didn’t seem to listen to me at all when I know my boys better than anyone, so I switched to a different doctor in that office that day. Our new pediatrician is amazing and listens to me and the boys, which is so important.


  4. This is a great article. I love your words on boundaries, I find this so hard to do with my own relationships! Thanks for sharing!


  5. I love this article! You made some great points on what you should and shouldn’t suck up. I 100% agree with the pain one. Unfortunately sometimes when you have chronic pain it’s hard not to feel like you have to suck it up


  6. Love these! I particularly needed to read the ones about going to a friend’s event and not having to participate in someone else’s idea of fun.


  7. Ahhhh it can be hard sometimes to decide which sityiu should just suck up. I like to. Speak my mind all the time and sometimes it definitely gets me in trouble Sincero I could have easily avoided the situation by not saying anything


  8. This is such a great reminder. I definitely agree with all of the things you shouldn’t have to deal with. Anything that makes you uncomfortable or could cause you harm is never okay.


  9. Being an advocate for yourself is so important and knowing when to say no and when to just go with it is a fine balancing act. Each of us might have things we feel more strongly about and have to just put our foot down and decide not to do.


  10. Great words of wisdom! You should never allow people to talk down to you or make you feel like you are lesser than them. I can actually utilize these tips at work right now, with all the negativity going around. Thanks for sharing!


  11. I totally agree with you on every point you have mentioned here. I have spend many years “sucking it up” even when I didn’t have to. I am so glad I realized that I should have done better, and I am a much happier person now.


  12. When we are younger we tend to suck it up a lot more. As we grow we can differentiate when we should be doing this and when we shouldn’t much better.


  13. You know, I’ve lived for 21 years with endometriosis and for a very long time doctors (yes doctors) have told me “suck it up”. Just a couple of years ago, the movement of awareness about endometriosis have made us more visible and “some” people care a little bit more… But even if I wouldn’t want to suck it up, there aren’t many options apart from a hysterectomy, which is quite a drastic measure. So there are times when you just have to even if you don’t want to.


  14. “Suck it up” is definitely a phrase I grew up hearing a lot! I agree that sometimes, you just have to put on a smile and move through it and others you should speak out!


  15. Great article. Beautifully written and I agree with all of your points, especially about going to parties. I hate doing that, I admit I’m pretty bad at social gatherings but I also acknowledge that I have to suck it up at one point.


  16. I think it all varies from situation to situation. I feel that there are situations where I cant suck it up and there are certain things that I could let go. Although! we all can make mistakes in identifying


  17. Love this post! I think I suck it up way more than I should. These are great reminders for me not too!!


  18. I used to suck it up and go to work when I was sick or had period pain. But now, if I get those two, I take a day off. My health is more important than a paycheck.


  19. This was useful! I should read this again and again because I’ll need this on work. I have big trouble sucking it up. Thanks for the informative post!


  20. I love this! So often, Self Care gets confused with selfishness. I think it’s important to find a balance between being good to yourself and also being decent towards others.


  21. Love this. Growing up being told to be polite and not make waves definitely impacted my ability to stand up for myself.


  22. What an interesting and insightful post. I love how you passed such an important message in a very interesting and I engaging tone. I have learned to suck it up when someone is getting under my skin. I will keep trying to get better at it.


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