This post was inspired by the latest episode of Girl Boss Radio featuring Sarah Jessica Parker.
SJP talked about how necessary it was for her to struggle early on in her career. She explains that,
“it’s kinda necessary and sometimes I’m sorry for those who kind of can leap frog over the really unpleasant part of achieving something that you want…I think it’s a burden to just get what you want.”
According to SJP, without the uncomfortable steps along the way, you don’t develop coping mechanisms, empathy, and curiosity.
Analyzing Carrie Bradshaw
I took a step back and thought about Carrie Bradshaw, the forever famous character SJP portrayed. Carrie never seemed to struggle with her career. Perhaps not having the struggle is what led her to ask Charlotte for money to buy her apartment back from Aiden. She didn’t have financial independence. She never had to think about it because she somehow always had enough money to buy shoes, Vogue, and her next brunch outfit. It was a major wake up call when she realized that she might actually become the old lady who lived in a shoe. Although her habits didn’t change as a result of this, her continuous poor choices might validate that she did in fact, miss out on a very crucial part of her adult development. Perhaps, Carrie could have benefited from a bit of a struggle in her career.
What do real people prefer?
Carrie, after all, is a fictional character living in a relatively unrealistic world. So I decided to turn my curiosity into an Instagram poll and ask people living in the real world, if they would rather: struggle or be given what they want?
It turns out, most people prefer the struggle. But why?
I consulted a few people and here’s what they have to say on the matter.
Vadim, my husband who went with the philosophical explanation:
“I would rather struggle to achieve something because the learning you gain from the journey is oftentimes more valuable than the accomplishment itself.”
Vince, my younger brother who preferred to use a food analogy:
“Ordering a quesadilla is easy (and delicious) but learning to make it myself and discovering how much cheese I like or how crispy I want the tortilla to be, takes the quesadilla to a whole other level.”
Luxe, my friend and mastermind behind The Luxe Strategist:
“I think most people would want free stuff with little work. Although for me all I’ve known is struggle and work and I don’t think there’s much I can’t overcome.”
And my friend, Kim who reminds us that there has to be some kind of balance:
“Working hard for something can give you a better sense of yourself and why you want that thing. It also builds character, perspective, and experience. That said, working hard for something can also lead to burnout, which makes the work you put in null and void.”
It seems like most people would agree that some sort of a struggle is worth it. It builds a sense of self, strengthens your ability to deal with life, and sometimes the journey is sweeter than the reward itself.
Not everyone prefers to struggle
40% of the people who answered my poll preferred to be given what they want. Their preference could be shaped by a number of things like their experience, current situation, and personality. In a society where we’re constantly reminded that time is precious and to not waste it, I can certainly see why some people might prefer to speed things up a bit.
If you’ve never heard of the Marshmallow experiment, it’s worth a watch (below). Kids are given a marshmallow and are told that if they wait until the adult returns to the room, they will be given another one (but only if they don’t eat the one in front of them). I preset the play button to get to the part where you see some kids fare better than others in the waiting game. I promise it’s cute.
I wonder how today’s kids would deal with being in a room with no stimuli and having to wait. Access to technology is something that has impacted their perception of how quickly things can and should happen, more so than previous generations anyway. And even though I remember a world when things use to move much slower, I, too have come to expect a certain pace for action and reward.
My personal experience
Personally, I can point to moments in my life where I would have preferred to struggle, and moments when I was grateful that I didn’t have to.
My current struggle to find a job, for example, has made being frugal and learning how to manage my money, my top priorities. When I started working in my senior year of high school and up until my most recent job, I never thought to save. The equation in my head was always, education = job = never having to worry about money. It was foolproof, until it wasn’t. It was a necessary lesson to learn the value of a dollar, something my mom always tried to help me understand by just saying that it is. Working through it is something entirely different. It’s showing me how to figure it out and to not be afraid. The process is turning into a set of skills that I can rely on in the future. Now, I sound like something out of a fortune cookie.
Then there’s the time I got a scholarship to study abroad in Florence. I definitely didn’t have over $5000 for my flights, tuition, room and board, and perhaps most important to sustain life, food. My mind expanded so much from this experience. I didn’t go away for college and this was just enough to help me figure out how to do those very basic things that I got sheltered from like: buying groceries, cleaning up after myself and occasionally after others, setting personal boundaries, and finding my way back when I got lost. I am forever grateful that I was given this experience. And not having to burden my parents financially made it infinitely sweeter.
I think we can all think of areas in our life where it would be nice to get a little help. Like school loans for example. I think most of us can agree that we won’t be sad if they were to be forgiven. And just because we get a little help with one thing doesn’t mean that life won’t present us with more challenges and things to work through. There’s no cruise control button for life and I’m okay with that.
What are your thoughts? Would you rather: struggle or be given what you want? Are there areas in your life where you are grateful to have experienced one or the other?
Thank you so much for stopping by.
See you in my next post!