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.