Would you rather: Struggle for what you want OR just be given it?

Source: picturequotes.com

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.Β 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?

Poll Results

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Sophie πŸ™‚


  • Nina Thomas

    I was one the people who answered that I would rather be given what I want, but I do see the value in struggling. Almost anything worth having comes with a struggle. You want to build a presence online? Diligently post even when you want to give up. Would you like to be in shape? Sacrifice the temporary joy of fatty foods and continually choose to eat better and exercise. Yes, I see the benefits, but it would still be so much nicer to just have whatever it is that we want instantaneously. With that being said, I’m learning that the struggle can sometimes be our journey and the time we learn the very most.

    • Hi Nina,

      I totally agree. Personally, building an online presence is something I wish I could snap my fingers and it would just happen. Every post is another fight towards getting to where we want. But for better or worse, it’s going at a snail’s pace and I’ve decided it’s probably because I’ve yet to figure out what my purpose for sharing with the world is-it’s kinda hard to say, “hey I’m this person” with the whole world seeing and then later on going, “wait, actually this is me now.” However, change is inevitable and people are expected to change.

      I think what we have/don’t have certainly leads us to how we want things to happen. I guess some things we would rather struggle for, some people might want instantly and vice versa.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and share your thoughts πŸ™‚

      • Nina Thomas

        Of course, I love your blog! You’re also the reason why I follow The Luxe Strategist, another favorite of mine now. πŸ™‚ Keep posting, I love what you write!

        • Thanks for the support and encouragement, Nina ☺️ I really appreciate it! Keep making videos and doing you πŸ˜‰

  • Saving with Sense

    Great discussion about this topic! I feel a bit torn about what I would want. I do feel like I have learned a lot and become stronger when I’ve struggled and worked hard for what I wanted. However, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to work so hard for it. Maybe I’ve just been feeling burnt out lately and want to take a break, but the idea of struggling for what I want sometimes makes me feel more exhausted than excited. I think that’s great that you’ve been able to recognize the moments you are grateful for having to and not having to struggle!

    • Thanks, Cyn! I totally know what you mean. Honestly, if I was asked this question when I was working, I would have probably leaned towards wishing things didn’t have to be as much of a struggle. I think a certain amount of struggle is okay but if it feels like a daily situation or if it’s actually an impossible thing to achieve given the barriers then yea, I would much rather it be easier. Hopefully, you get to take a much needed break 🀞🏼

  • Wow, the results of your poll surprised me, I thought it would be 99% struggle! I like the feeling of working hard and when something finally works out, it gives a really good feeling. Sorta like eating a really good cookie πŸ™‚ I sometimes feel guilty if stuff is just handed to me for free, and question whether I deserve it or I can live up to expectations (for example, getting a job through connections). But I guess it’s better to accept a gift freely and make the most of it.

    • That’s so interesting that you thought it would be 99% struggle. To be honest, I had no idea which way people would lean. At first I thought I would definitely lean towards struggling for what I want. But then I thought about it and realized that there are definitely certain things I would prefer to work through and figure out for myself (like finding a job or figuring out to set my own blog) than other things like paying back school loans haha. But it’s true the satisfaction that comes from working through something and finally getting what you want is definitely not the same as just having it handed to you.

  • I think the answer to the question comes down to how I’m feeling on the day – haha! I definitely agree that struggles can be good life lessons if we get what we want in the end. But sometimes everything in life is too hard and you just want the easy option.

    As an example, I usually have two dinners planned each day. The easy, no fuss option, and the one I’d like but takes more effort. I know if it’s a tough day and I just cannot deal with anything tricky, I’ll default to the easy option instead. Some weeks I get through without using the easy option, other times the easy option comes into play on Tuesday, or even Monday, haha!

    Hope you’re having a great weekend πŸ™‚ It’s a quiet one here as it’s too hot to do anything much, another heatwave at the moment!

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • I love that you plan for both scenarios when making dinner. I think that makes a lot of sense, I think when we have the capacity and mental energy we can totally take on the more difficult things. And sometimes, it’s just nice to have a break πŸ™‚

      It’s been quite warm here for winter…really looking forward to Spring days. Hopefully you had a lovely weekend and plenty of time cooling off indoors πŸ™‚

  • I’m surprised by how many people chose struggle! Anyway, I think one important thing to note is that either way doesn’t make you morally superior. Nor does it mean your achievements are less impressive. I mean, I had an intern whose parents set her in a nicer apartment than mine. She had means, but she definitely worked harder than almost everyone in the office. She’s definitely going to go places, and because she had some things “handed to her” don’t diminish her accomplishments.

    Being real, many of our peers in NYC would not be able to afford to buy apartments in NYC without money being handed to them. Every youngish person I know has had help with that. And people would be crazy to turn that help down, in favor of struggling on their own.

    And that Florence scholarship wasn’t just given to you, so don’t shortchange yourself. You applied for it fair and square.

    Also, I fell down the rabbit hole of SATC clips on Youtube last night, and now I’m tired as hell…

    • That’s a really good point. There are definitely negative connotations to people who have things given to them but work needs to be put in to keep those things for sure. And as with everything, all things are not equal. Something we take for granted that we already have, other people might not have that and we might not be aware-so grass always seems greener.

      NYC apartments are so hard to find and the nice ones are even more difficult to come by that I totally get it. I think it just makes sense that things get passed down whether that be money or other resources.

      Thanks! Yea, that scholarship is something I’m still very proud of-working hard in high school paid off after all πŸ˜‰

      Oh no! That’s quite a rabbit hole! I’ve been thinking of watching SATC from the beginning again but I got rid of the DVDs before the move so now I don’t know where I can go to get my fix.

  • Really a post to chew on, Sophie! Like you, there were times in my life that I preferred the struggle (when I’m saving for a big purchase like a bag or camera, for example) but there were also times being given help has been crucial. The whole “no man is an island” idea is true, really. I’m thankful for the help I accepted, work hard to make that help worth it, and try to give opportunities back to others in return.

    • I totally know what you mean, Daisy. I feel like with material items, it can feel so rewarding and empowering to know that your hard work paid off to get what you want. And sometimes, it really is impossible without help. Sometimes it really does take a village. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 😊