Have you guys heard of Duck Syndrome? Even if you’re not familiar with the term you’re likely familiar with the sentiment every time you scroll through Instagram and see a photo of a girl living a fabulous life with the hashtag #Blessed or #LuckyGirl. She’s having so much fun, her life is so easy, and you are so jealous.
The Atlantic describes Duck Syndrome as, “On social media, we all want to be seen as ducks, a term researchers at Stanford University came up with to convey how, like the animal, young women want to be seen as gliding serenely along, but in fact under the surface are paddling ferociously.”
C’est Christine just wrote a great blog post on this topic where she shares her own battle with Duck Syndrome and the pressure she feels to act like her life is all effortless luck.
I find this topic absolutely fascinating as I think it’s a struggle unique to women. A lot of us struggle with the ability to accept compliments and feel deserving of praise. This leads to us acting like the good things in our life just fell into our laps and we have luck to thank for our successes.
While everyone has luck to thank at some point in their life (and socioeconomic factors give some of us more luck than others), luck is not the largest contributing factor to any of our success. And chalking your life up to luck devalues your accomplishments because no one respects luck. I’m an incredibly lucky person but I’m an even harder worker.
Luck doesn’t take your love life into your own hands and sign up for OkCupid. Luck doesn’t bounce back after getting fired from a job. Luck doesn’t reach out over and over and over again to develop connections and build your network. Luck doesn’t show up day after day to do the work even when you’re unsure what the outcome will be.
Luck sits back and enjoys the ride, and without hard work that ride is usually going nowhere.
When I scroll through Instagram and see pictures with hashtags like #blessed and #luckygirl I think, why her and not me? It promotes comparison and jealously. It’s amazing how different a reaction I get when when I see a picture of a success with hashtags like #hustle and #girlboss. Instead of comparing I cheer. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I feel inspired. If she can do it so can I!
I don’t want to be a duck because I want people to know how hard I’m working. My successes have not come easy, and neither have yours. Duck Syndrome fosters unrealistic expectations for success and devalues the hard work we’re all doing. How different would the world be if instead of praising luck we praised hustle? How different would our relationships be if we recognized we’re all imperfect human beings that face obstacles and struggles?
Questions of the Day: Do you struggle with Duck Syndrome? What is a success in your life you’re proud of how hard you had to work to achieve?
I have never heard of “Duck Syndrome”. Thank you for explaining it. Social media is ripe with comparison… “their life is better than mine.” “They seem so happy.” We all only show our best bits. Reality is often very different. Yes, to less comparison, and more of sharing our real work and successes. Thanks for this reminder.
This is such a great post, and SO TRUE. I love the duck comparison, but it’s definitely a breath of fresh air when someone acknowledges the hard work and failures that came along with their successes. I’m all about keepin’ it real – great topic! xo
Melanie Redd says
What a great way to express the pressure that women put on themselves – the Duck Syndrome! It is so real!
Thanks for sharing a very interesting and enlightening post today. I found you on Wise Woman.
Hope you have a blessed day~
This is so true for some many women have this going on right now. It plays true to the statement ‘fake it till you make it’ The pressure society puts on us plus our own pressure! Such a great post!
xo, Jessica || The Petite Diaries
This is a great post. I have never heard of “duck syndrome” but I definitely know the feeling. Both on my side – A pressure to portray my life as perfect/easy when it’s not, and from the outside – The envy when it seems like others’ lives are perfect/easy and mine is not. I’m always reminding myself that social media is not what it seems. This inspires to me to be more open about the struggles of everyday life.
Carolyn Henderson - This Woman Writes says
Perhaps there’s a reason we are advised not to covet — looking around and comparing NEVER results in our feeling like a winner!
The shallowness of how we interact these days doesn’t help — if all we read is social media (which, sadly, is the main reading fare of many) — we go away with the feeling that everyone else’s life is put together, and we are the only person who can’t eat a slice of cheesecake without gaining weight on the first bite.
A good article, and a lovely photo of the duck. Ducks, the real ones, are such pleasant, beautiful creatures. That being said, I agree with you — I don’t want to be a duck, either literally or figuratively.
Okay, I saw this post and just had to click on it. And I’m so glad I did! I’ve never heard of “Duck Syndrome” but the description is absolutely perfect. We totally do that on social media and on blogs! I’m guilty. I hope I’m trying to do my best to keep it real, but I know I have tried to make things look great when they’re not. It helps to remember we’re all in it together, and we all are real people with real struggles 🙂
Shannon @GirlsGotSole says
I had never heard of this syndrome before. While I agree with most of what you said, I disagree with the #blessed hashtag.
For me anyway, I attribute so much to the glory of God. Sure, I work for what I get, but I believe so much of my blessings are from Him.
wow what an amazing article, such a strong statement!
Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says
Great take on this, our tendency to use social media to compare and envy and filter and frame. I usually feel like the opposite of a duck anyway – all paddling and spinning and flapping! 🙂 Thanks for linking up to Works for Me Wednesday!
I’ve never heard it called “duck syndrome” but it makes sense! I think we all struggle with some aspect of this in one way or another on social media! Thank you for posting!
Great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! While I’m sure men struggle with this too, I do think it’s especially prevalent among women. I love seeing other people’s successes, truly, but there are times when I wonder what breaks, if any, they got, and how lucky they are to be in the spot they are.
We’re all on unique journeys at our own pace! The important thing is to enjoy the journey and notice how far you’ve come.
Excellent post Erin! I’m with you on every single point you made!
Sarah Lynn says
I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog Erin, great post!
I’ve never even heard the term “Duck Syndrome” before so I really enjoyed reading about it and hearing your opinion.
Never heard of duck syndrome…makes a lot of sense…I LOVE how you want the hard work to be celebrated…you go girl
This is a really good post. I never really thought about it that way. I completely agree with what you say. I often say I am blessed and that usually refers to things I had no control over like being born into a good family, country etc.
Shannyn @ Frugal Beautiful says
I love how we’re on the same wavelength with this! I haven’t heard of “Duck” syndrome but I do think this is something a lot of women struggle with. I completely agree about the use of the hashtags, too. #GirlBoss is empowering, #LuckyGirl isn’t.
Heidi Kokborg says
I have never heard of Duck Syndrom but it really makes sense..
Alyssa @ Good + Simple says
I love this, Erin! I don’t think I ever heard the term “duck syndrome,” but I can definitely identify with it! Even outside of social media, I see women who just seem so “effortless” and seem to be achieving so much and have everything together. But I don’t know how much they sleep, what they struggle with, or what goes on between their walls (or inside their heads). I try hard not to make assumptions based on what I see. But it helps when we’re honest with each other and aren’t afraid to admit when we’ve worked really hard on something.
Totally agree- chalking your life up to luck and luck alone devalues your accomplishments. We gotta work hard + be proud of your achievements! 🙂
Le Stylo Rouge
Vi Dotter says
I was really surprised by this “duck syndrome” – I am not sure what to think about it. I find your perspective very thoughtful and well phrased. For me, envy is that part of our animalistic survival instinct/our id that we are all striving to progress through – always in combat with our superego that has more awareness and long-term perspective. I am seriously no duck – couldn’t be posing if I tried.
I guess what throws me off is the whole “syndrome” thing – seems like a new one popping up every day and used as excuses as to why people stop striving to be better. Thanks for making me wonder!
[email protected] says
What a great post Erin! I have never heard of Duck syndrome before but it makes perfect sense! I have never given 2 thought about the hashtags that people use but now that you mentioned it, there are definitely ones that come off as “more inspiring” and ones that are attributed to “luck”. I definitely like the inspiring ones better!
Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut says
I had no idea what to expect with the title of this since I’ve never heard of duck syndrome but WOW. This is so relatable!
I think it’s such a challenge to discuss how hard life can be without sounding like complaining though. I have to say it as a joke like “oh my gosh I haven’t slept in like a week–walking zombie here haha!” when I really want to cry and just go to bed. It’s such a balance between not being a complainer and pretending to be perfect!
Great post, friend.
I thought this was going to be about duck face. Lol
I totally agree. My good fortune happened because I made it happen. I’m not labeling it luck. I also like to show a real side in social media. I think people really appreciate imperfections!