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I spoke with my buddy Gabe today. He and I served in the Marine Corps together. After getting out and experiencing the gambit of Military transitional difficulties, he ended up enlisting back into the Army after the Marines wouldn’t take him back due to their ridiculous tattoo standards. 

His first year or so in the Army was rough for him as well. Regardless of whether or not you go into the Army after the Marine Corps, it’s still the fucking Army, and there’ll be some transitional stress related to this completely different way of life. He found himself deployed overseas to Poland where 14 hour days were followed by alcohol laden nights to wash down the suck that kept him in a haze for the better part of a year. Missing his home, missing his wife, missing his brothers, regretting yet another decision to join back up after regretting his previous decision to get out – everything was in a spiral. 

As of late, he has found his groove. He put the beer down and picked his chin back up to take himself and his life seriously again. To not be the victim but the player in his reality. He attributes resilience as the key factor for his ability to be where he is now – happy, healthy, proud and finally embracing the suck. 

A lot of Military people use that saying “embrace the suck,” although few of us actually understand it enough to apply it. My entire Military career was spent working my ass off 80 – 100 hours a week and destroying myself for the final 48 of them. I thought I was embracing the suck but in reality, all I was doing was running from it – jumping down a beer can or liquor bottle, just to escape the suck that was sucking the life from me. 

To embrace the suck is to surrender to what is and to be resilient enough to make the best out of the situation. I’m proud of Gabe for being able to do this in the situation and circumstance he’s in. He has taken one of the shittiest times in his life and has turned it into his vehicle for awakening, his rocket ship of growth. To embrace the suck doesn’t mean to deal with it five days of the week and run from it for two. 

Embracing the suck means to put your head down and go through your resistance because your aim is to become better then you were yesterday for no other reason than that’s what your spirit is propelling you to do. To embrace the suck, you must attack it with vigor and without ego, for the ego will give up long before your spirit will because true success is bred from the spirit.

Of all the Marines I ever served with, Sergeant Fuentes was the pinnacle of someone who embraced the suck. Not only did he embrace the suck, but he forced those around him to embrace the suck or choose to get the life sucked out of them. Now a Gunnery Sergeant and former Drill Instructor, I’m sure he has taught every recruit and Marine since, the importance of resilience, one way or another, whether they liked it or not.

In this lifestyle, it’s going to suck because there’s simply no chance of it not sucking. That’s the entire point of the Military total institution. To create one giant life-sucking moment after another. The only way one can grow and excel within it, is if we embrace it in our hearts and lead ourselves from our spirits. This applies to life whether still serving or transitioning post-Military service.

Superficial embracement of the suck, or ego acceptance of everything you don’t want to be, say, think, act, feel, or do will inevitably falter and befallen you’ll become. Befallen to the misery, befallen to hopelessness, befallen to the fact that you have zero control over literally any aspect of your life – that‘s where the blackholes stem from. The only way to not get sucked down the black hole is to embrace the fact that you’re in a black hole. The black hole is only a figure of our minds, real though it may be, factual though it may be, it doesn’t control us because it doesn’t define us. 

What define us isn’t the situation or circumstance we are in, it’s how we react and act in those situations and circumstances. We have no control over the happenings of our lives. Where we find ourselves, what we find ourselves in, and what is happening around us is outside of our control. 

The only thing we can control is our thoughts, words, and actions in each moment. 

To embrace the suck is to surrender the unconquerable battle for external control and focus our energy within into our internal dichotomy. The ego lives from without, our spirits live from within. The ego will find you ruined, the spirit will help you ascend. This needs to be in every aspect of our lives because the suck feeds our egos. It filters every present moment through past experiential programming, keeping us stuck spinning our wheels into mania. Upon embracing the suck, one chooses to get off the hamster wheel and begin walking their own path towards themselves.

To choose the best decisions for us in each moment of our lives requires embracing the suck that life will inevitably bring us. Resilience is the key factor in the embracement of this suck because things will not always happen as we planned or expected. By not setting expectations and simply going with what is actually happening, teaches us to roll with the punches that life brings and continue moving forth – growing, evolving, and becoming better human beings.

It takes a choice though. One that we all have to make for ourselves. We can be a victim to our reality or embrace the suck and succeed in spite of it. Some days, that choice is easier to make than in others but through resilience does that choice become easier and easier to make. Surrendering to what is and choosing to be the best in every situation is where happiness can then begin to be found regardless of situation or circumstance.

By Adam T. Cummings


  1. This is such a great commentary, not only applicable to military or veterans but to humans as a whole. Thank you for this perspective.


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