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124 – SUCK IT UP



Today I want to talk about the term, to “suck it up”.  We have all heard it a million times and we all know, because of the context it is used in, what it means.

To suck it up, is to endure some physical, mental, or emotional hardship without whining or complaining right? 

Coaches use this term all the time…probably more than any body.  When an athlete gets fatigued and his performance starts to fade the coach will yell at him to suck it up.  Which means the athlete is supposed to ignore the pain and the fatigue, summon up a little extra strength and continue executing the task, whatever it is.

The term suck it up is most often used in situations associated with some kind of strenuous performance, but now its use has spread into every walk of life, we see it most often when we are faced with having to make a decision between two crappy things. 

Maybe your boss tells you you have to come in on the weekend, you tell him you have plans…he tells you to suck it up and come in anyway.

Maybe your car needs a brake job but you can’t afford it until payday…you have to suck it up, and find another way to get to work until you get paid.

Maybe you finally asked out a girl you like and she turns you down, she says no.  Your all bummed out and your friends tell you to suck it up and get on with your life.

After the elections tomorrow half the country will be asked to suck it up, because their candidate did not win. 

The examples of this term are endless, but I started thinking about it.  I am a guy that believes words mean things and I started to wonder what it literally means; to suck it up…suck what up?  I also started wondering how relevant sucking it up is to being a better man.

All sayings have an origin, a beginning, and knowing how a phrase got started often sheds light on a phrase and enhances its meaning a bit.

I did some research, and it turns out…from all the sources I could find, that the term sucking it up came out of world war II. 

It was a term used for pilots flying at high altitudes.  Sometimes they would get sick and vomit into their oxygen mask.  They needed that oxygen, so they had two choices;  they could suck up their vomit and swallow it, so they could start breathing again…or, they could breath in their acidic vomit and die.  The term suck it up was born!

I can’t vouch 100% for how true that is or not, it kinda makes sense though.  But wether it is true or just an urban legend, it is a fantastic, extreme example of what sucking it up means. 

There you are, flying over France in 1941…you get sick and throw up…you have to suck it up, or die.  There are no other choices. 

As I pondered this I came to the conclusion that sucking it up is really telling us how to best deal with, and accept a real life fact about a situation.   

Like in the earlier five examples I gave; the athlete, the car problems, the girl who says no, the election, and the unreasonable boss. In each of these examples the term suck it up is really giving us advice on how we should deal with it.  There are slight differences though.

In the car problems example and the girl who said no…we don’t really have any other choice.  If the girl doesn’t like you she doesn’t like you, if you don’t have the money to fix your car you have to wait until you do have it…period.  There really are no other choices, kind of like the puking pilot.  The same is true of the election…somebody wins and somebody loses, that’s all there is to it.  So the best thing you can do is to suck it up and deal with it the best you can without whining or complaining or making excuses.  To do anything else will not change the outcome.

In the other two examples; the unreasonable boss and the athlete, there is another choice.  The athlete could quit, and walk off the field. letting himself, his coach and his team down, or he could suck it up.

With the unreasonable boss there is always a choice to quit, but that choice depends on how much you like your job and what your chances of getting a new one are.  Like the athlete, the choices are quit, or suck it up.

After all this I do think that sucking it up is relevant to Being A better Man.  It’s just another way of saying Make a decision, and deal with it like a man, without whining or complaining.

A lot of things happen in life that are unfortunate.  Situations arise that require us to choose between two crappy things. 

In the absence of a third viable course of action…as men, we just need to suck it up sometimes, because whining, complaining, and making excuses are not really options.  They are options for a boy perhaps, but not for a man.

Thats it for today guys, now head out into the big world and when you need to…suck it up, and get on with your life.  Swallow your puke and keep breathing oxygen, live to fight another day so that you can be a better man today, than you were yesterday.

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