Embrace the suck: how to change your life when everything sucks

Published Sept. 10, 2020

The military phrase “embrace the suck” has grown in popularity in recent years, and is used as a rallying call to face adversity, instead of running away from it.

Embrace the suck: how to change your life when everything sucks

While you probably don’t have to make the same hard choices that an army general has to, the ideas behind this phrase may help you get through difficult situations in your life. Whether it is changing jobs or starting a new venture, these moments can involve discomfort, so you’ll need to embrace the suck to get the change that you want to have.

At MentorCruise, as a thriving community of mentors and mentees, we’ve seen how people have gotten through hard times with the help of amazing mentors, who guide them toward the path to success and teach them ways to embrace the suck.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • What the military slang “embrace the suck” means
  • Why you should embrace the suck in your professional life
  • How to get over the suck, from mentorship to developing habits, to accepting being uncomfortable.

Let’s go!

Embrace the suck meaning

Military slang can be revealing for its frankness and lack of subtlety. Hardship and pain from life-and-death experiences color the language of military officials, who work in war-torn areas filled with death and trauma.

Military slang has a universal, yet strange, appeal, for better or worst. It has been appropriated across several industries for its ability to encapsulate high-anxiety situations that many of us face.

A military phrase coming from the 2003 War in Iraq, “embrace the suck” is an implied order disguised as a vulgar, yet clever, quip. It denotes the horrifying realities of being in a war and the fact that soldiers will have to face it head-on or die. It’s one of those military phrases that’s entered common usage to describe a shitty situation that one has to confront in order to solve.

“Embrace the suck” means that while the current situation sucks, you have to accept it and work toward changing it. It’s not about being in-denial, as much as accepting present discomfort for future success. To embrace the suck means to confront things that make you uncomfortable so that you can surmount it.

Why you should embrace the suck in your professional life

Everyone becomes unhappy about their career at some points in their lives.

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things by venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur Ben Horowitz, he recounts an experience that nearly prevented him from selling his company, Opsware, for millions of dollars. When he told Dave Conte, his CFO, about various options, Dave replied, “If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.” Dave suggested that Ben took a risky decision that ended up being successful.

While the stakes may not be as high as selling a multimillion-dollar company, you still need to embrace the suck if you’re facing the following situations:

  • You search on Google: “My job sucks.”
  • You don’t feel fulfilled in what you do any longer.
  • You don’t feel passionate about growing your company any longer.
  • Just thinking about your work causes you anxiety.
  • You want to switch careers.
  • You need a vacation — permanently.

Embracing the suck also allows you to confront the situation now so that it doesn’t seep into other parts of your life. When we’re always so anxiety-ridden from being so conflict-avoidant, our negative state of being can also negatively affect our professional and personal relationships.

How to get over the suck

Get help through mentorship

Sometimes, external advice is what you need to help you get out of your rut and achieve your goals.

At MentorCruise, we’ve seen how mentorship help has transformed the lives of many professionals ranging from career-changers to founders who are unsure of how to grow their startups.

To embrace the suck, you need a plan to get where you want to be. A good mentor with the right qualities for you can look at your problems and offer concrete steps for you to get where you want to be.

Change your own situation

You’re not embracing the suck if you’re accepting your current reality for what it is. Embracing the suck is a process of realization and action. Without action, you’ll end up being more miserable than you were previously.

If you don’t like your job, then look around for other opportunities. If you are in the right circumstances, quit your job. It’s easier said than done, but you need to look at your situation from an outside perspective to fully understand your emotions.

If you’re not in the right place to radically alter your situation, then start a side-project or a hobby to put your mind at ease. Otherwise, build something that will help you become self-sufficient later on.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Finally, you will need to embrace the suck during different points of your life. The only way to pursue happiness and satisfaction is to realize that there will be obstacles when it comes to pursuing your passion. You need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. But how?

  • Remember your vision. Whether you’re an intern or a founder, there will be times when you’ll be doubting yourself on whether you’re making the right choices or not. During these times, you need to remember your reason for pursuing whatever goals you have.
  • Have a support group. Having a community like MentorCruise will help you get through tough times through guidance and encouragement.
  • Think about the worst-case scenario. What’s the worst thing that can go wrong if you decide to pursue something? If you understand the consequences of your possible actions, then you can have a clearer perspective on what to do next.
  • Act.

Learn new skills if you don’t know what you want

Offline and online, there are so many ways to learn new skills. You can start making and selling candles, start running marathons, or even go scuba diving. This lets you diversify your interests to keep you less anxious. When you have a clearer mind, you have a better view of things.

Otherwise, you can also learn new monetizable skills to work toward changing your situation, such as changing careers or becoming an entrepreneur. Online platforms like Udacity, Coursera and Codecademy can teach you how to code. MentorCruise has programming mentors to help you succeed in your coding journey.

Whatever your reasons are, it’s always a good idea to learn a new skill if you have some free time. Who knows. You might discover a new, life-changing talent.

Develop habits to encourage change

Change is the only thing that’s constant. When you’re in a sucky situation, learn to operate within a mindset of execution. This will allow you to quickly identify the things that make you unhappy and effectively proceed toward committing to change.

One of the ways to profoundly change your life and embrace the suck is through habit formation. If a personal habit makes you unhappy or negatively affects your professional life, work toward developing a habit that will counteract this.

There is a lot of literature on habit formation, including James Clear’s popular Atomic Habits or Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. The fundamentals remain the same:

  • Start simple
  • Commit to 3-4 weeks of performing that habit until it becomes second nature to you.
  • Make sure that committing to the habit is as frictionless as possible.

About to embrace the suck?

Are you about to make a life-changing decision, embrace the suck and change things for the better? If you need mentorship to guide you to your goals, try MentorCruise and ask for help.