I've been working with a group of young people lately, mostly on personal defense, and one thing I keep telling them is to “embrace the suck.” That is, when they see something that seems difficult (or “sucks”) they should revel in the adversity, embrace the challenge. This will improve them physically and mentally, and I'd be a horrible teacher if I didn't do what I instruct them to do.
So tonight I shoveled about 6 inches of new snow off the driveway and walkway, then my wife said it might be a good idea to take one of the dogs for a couple mile walk before bed. To tire him out, I assume. Two hours later I came stumbling in the door, drenched in sweat and covered head-to-toe in snow, and my wife asked me if I had a good walk. I'll get back to that in just a second, though.
The snow was still falling when I left the house with my Australian Shepherd, and blew straight in my face when we headed to our favorite trail, but I just tucked down my chin and kept going. About half a mile down the path we hit a patch of ice under the snow that nearly caused me to wipe out and I tweaked my back, but I recovered and we kept going. Ten or fifteen minutes further, after breaking through some snow drifts, we hit a slick patch and both the dog and I went down, the dog yelping loudly in pain. I got back up to keep going, and he didn't.
He lay there licking a hurt paw, then tried to get back up, but collapsed immediately. I seriously considered calling my wife to wake the kids, bundle them up, and drive to the nearest point where she could meet us, but I didn't. I embraced the suckiness of the situation. I picked the dog up and cut through a thick stand of trees off the trail to avoid the ice patches behind us, carrying him in my arms.
At around 60 pounds he's not a light dog, and his struggles at first only compounded the strain of carrying him. He finally settled back into my arms and laid his head on my shoulder and looked up at me as if saying “Alright buddy, I'm leaving it all up to you now.” I struggled through a couple thick stands of trees, down a couple paths that hadn't been plowed or cleared, and through at least one snow drift which was past my knees, with just enough crust to make me think I could support myself each step before I fell through. I went down hard at one point, falling face first before landing on my shoulder to cushion the fall for the dog. Luckily the pile was primarily soft, new snow. And I picked the dog up and kept going.
What a sight we must've made, me completely covered in white like an abominable snowman, carrying a bundle of black fur in my arms and stumbling around in the snow, pitching forward due to exhaustion and poor footing and catching myself at the last second. At least, if anyone else had been stupid enough to be out in the storm to see us.
So when I finally stumbled in the front door and my wife asked if we had a good walk, I was too tired to reach over to smack her for her oh-so-brilliant suggestion I take the dog for a long walk, at night, in the snow storm. I didn't do much of anything besides unclip the dog's leash, shake off a pile of snow from me to the rug, and stumble to the kitchen for some water. My dog came up after a minute or two and nosed my thigh, his sign that he wants to go outside, and I was too tired to even push him away.
But I did overcome the challenge, I succeeded at getting us home under my own power and during adverse conditions. And next time I face something that seems difficult, or maybe it's in the form of hard work, or that unexpected emergency, I'll be that much more prepared for it because I have a stronger mindset which will allow me to keep going. And, I'm sure, stronger muscles to overcome. At least I assume I will, based on how much those muscles and joints are screaming at me right now.
I embraced the suck, struggled through it, and I'm here to keep going tomorrow because I refused to give up. It wasn't really life-or-death, although if I had left the dog there long enough I suppose it could've been, but even little situations can help prepare you for larger problems. Sweat, curse, or do whatever you need to in order to succeed, but know you're better equipped emotionally and physically for the future for having suffered.
What are some examples of you embracing a bad situation? Feel free to drop your story in the comments below!