sick woman

Warning: 1 in 3 Professionals Suffers from this Career-Related Condition

A serious condition is sweeping across the nation. Are you one of the thousands of 20-somethings affected?

Dubbed “shoulditis” by medical professionals, this condition is not a joke. Nearly 90 percent of cases have been found to result in severe and sometimes fatal damage to one’s inborn potential, ultimately leading to the slow and silent death of, well, the soul.

If you experience any of the following warning signs, seek help immediately:

  • The compulsive and incessant feeling that you should have it all figured out, despite the confusion swirling around in your head
  • The persistent sense that you should follow a certain predefined path, for example,  law school, business school, climbing the corporate ladder, etc.
  • Sudden and unexplained disorientation upon arrival to said classroom, cubicle or office; constant feeling of “WTF am I doing here?!”
  • The feeling that you are walking (or are expected to walk) someone else’s path rather than your own
  • Sense of dread regarding THE REST OF YOUR FREAKING LIFE
  • Nausea, vomiting, throwing up within the mouth

The cause of shoulditis is not completely known, but it is believed to originate from a combination of the following factors:

  • Pressure (whether real or perceived) from parents, friends and society to appear as though you have it all figured out
  • The need to prove that you are not, in fact, an aimless and wandering blob-of-a-loser
  • The (completely laughable) notion that everyone else has their crap together

So what’s the treatment?

Most patients choose to treat their shoulditis with a daily dose of prescription Suckitup ® 20 mg, which works by inhibiting the brain’s natural ability to question. This results in a newfound ability to become accustomed to, and even superficially happy with the daily grind.

Suckitup works quickly and effectively, allowing you to live a normal life immediately without the compulsion to ask all those pesky questions like “Who am I?” and “What should I do with my life?”

However, the drug does not cure the underlying condition and has several known side effects, including:

  • Leading a life of quiet desperation
  • The slow and silent killing of the soul
  • Occasional diarrhea

Patients sometimes have trouble swallowing Suckitup or cannot tolerate the side effects, preferring instead to treat the condition with alternative methods. Contrary to popular belief, a myriad of alternative treatments do exist — but only you can decide which one is right for you.

Options include, but are not limited to:

  • Traveling the world, asking questions, exploring options and allowing yourself “not to know” for awhile
  • Ditching the well-worn path for the path that speaks to your soul, even if it means sacrificing societal norms or secure paychecks or parental approval
  • Seeking a mentor or coach who can help you figure out how to forge that unbeaten path
  • Starting your own business or project or initiative
  • Pursuing your passion or a side gig alongside a traditional career

Suckitup is not the only answer, and don’t make the mistake of thinking it is. Your soul depends on it.

Therese Schwenkler writes for the young & confused at, proving that good advice doesn’t have to be boring or uncool. Battling shoulditis? Click here for the free guide to SAVING YOUR FREAKING SOUL.


  1. The90thatmatters

    Thanks for this post. I continue to meet people who try to tell me I’m nuts for wanting to do off the wall stuff despite my corporate success. I look forward to following your site.

    • Amphi38

      I developed the attitude that you “scrw” with me, I “scrw” U 10 x better. And I did! They did not know what was going on but some of my co-workers did. Some even (carried the torch) on when I wasn’t around. This helped cloud the source of their problem. Errors, lost items and missed deadlines are costly to Corporations! Need I say more? Just don’t get cought!

  2. Anonymous

    As someone who has taken more than his share of Suckitup and has suffered from shoulditis for far too long, this is good advice I wish I’d had early in my career. The later you wait to cure yourself of shoulditis, the more invasive surgery is required (and the more stretched your metaphors become).

    • I agree – also wish i’d understood this early in my career, that i probably would NOT have done… after attempting major surgery in 2008 with subsequent marital hemorrhage that nearly killed it, i’m now approaching this in a less invasive non-surgical way. Not as rapid, unfortunately, but much less collateral damage- mortgage, kids, hubby are in much better condition with this approach.

  3. Nicholas Reyes

    LOL this is an interesting post, I think a lot of people stress out too much because of the situations they put themselves in with their bills, and family. I am still quite young, and do not have a family right now, so I am not sure this applies to me, but I tend not to worry myself with the things which I cannot control, or else I know I will just end up stressing myself out.

  4. Therese, I totally remember working at a sales/customer job in my early mid 20s and wondering what the crap I was doing with my life. We have a tendency of having high expectations of ourselves and then comparing us at our worst to others at their best. It’s no wonder the math doesn’t add up.

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  6. Very witty article – I really enjoyed reading it.

    It got me thinking about how there are generally considered two options for ones life: Follow the path, or forge your own.

    At it’s root – two options aren’t that many, even if there are subsets within them.

    Having always subscribed to this binary myself, I find it hard to wrap my head around, but it has recently been brought to my attention – by a fearsomely intelligent and compassionate individual – that there are a whole lot of people out there for whom neither of these options is desirable or even possible.

    Forging your own path is difficult, it requires a certain skill set and a good helping of gumption – but does someone without these things deserve a life of quiet desperation?

    Or is there room to create multiple avenues within the beaten path – to change our ideas about what is right and what is fair, and what is the way things should be?

    I feel like we, and as readers of this site, we by and large fall into the category of “able to forge unique paths,” tend to project onto others our sense of what is possible and what desirable.

    I’m just working my head around these ideas myself at the moment – I thought you all might find it interesting food for thought.

    • Agreed, Megan, and GREAT thoughts. Personally, I believe that there absolutely are multiple, multiple paths within the beaten path. I also believe that it’s possible to forge your own path (to some extent) WITHIN the beaten path– to bring some of your own initiative or creativity or whatnot to a path that’s more or less “already defined.”

      I also don’t believe that staying on the beaten path means that one is destined for a life of quiet desperation. Some people are happy here– it’s all a matter of who YOU are, and that being said, there are some of us who were meant to forge our own paths and who will never be happy on someone else’s terms (and that is who this piece was written for).

      So to sum it up, there’s no easy answer. I believe it’s uniquely personal, BUT I also absolutely believe that the options, whether on the beaten path (within which there are many avenues), off the beaten path (within which there are also many venues), or some combination of the two… are infinite.

      Hopefully this makes sense at all…

  7. Hilarious article, and you nailed it. This feeling that we have to have it all figured out now can be suffocating. But so is sucking it up and staying stagnant in a place you aren’t happy. No one wants to feel uninspired about life. Or watch the death of their soul, for that matter.

    Like others, I am in total agreement about the benefits of travel–new perspectives and experiences, resourcefulness, learning about ourselves and others. Travel forces us to be outside our comfort zone and take risks at times, which I believe we need for growth. And hopefully with each adventure, getting closer to curing “shoulditis”.

    Thanks for writing this!

  8. Victoree

    Actually, this syndrome defines the 20’s. I remember when I wanted to plant my foot firmly on the corporate ladder and my boyfriend had something to prove. I laugh about it now looking back at that season of life. Re read “Passages” by Gail Sheehy about the predictable stages of life in adulthood.

  9. Marty Lake

    I love this kind of writing that weaves witty humor with real-life stress and pain – this was really fun to read!

    Maybe it is because I switched to taking Fuckitol, but plenty of folks seem to be enjoying good results with Suckitup too. Since I am in a corporate environment, I keep my supply of Sarcasma handy as well. :)

    If more people had your take on life, it would be a much happier place!

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  11. amilyjoe

    Numbers increases day by day of people who suffers from shoulditis due to increasing the competition in professional life. Apart from the tips given above one can do Yoga to remove the pressure and tension in their life. Yoga helps a lot in living stress-less in wasilla

  12. Jo

    Mmmm….So, when you turn 60 and the last offspring bids a fond farewell to the parental home, what’s to stop you taking the 35 years of shoulditis and kicking it off for a contract in some unspellable place where you can start learning and experiencing all the stuff that you’ve put on hold?

    Don’t think theres an age limit, don’t recognise any limitation except imagination and the will to do now what wasn’t practical 30 years ago……

    I expect to have fun…

    • My wife died when I was 58 and it took me nearly two years to even begin to get my feet back under me. And now I’m discovering that I am moving in a direction I never, ever expected. Thanks to simply trying to be as honest, insightful, and articulate as I can be on Facebook, I’ve been invited to lead a discussion group at this year’s American Society for Cybernetics conference. I expect it to be a lot of fun, result in great contacts, and look pretty good on my resume too.

  13. After reading the Shoulditis symptoms I was initial worried that my particular case could be terminal.

    However after scrolling down a little I was relieved to discover that I am currently living the cure!

    Thank the heavens 😀

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  15. Shouldi

    Thank you for making light of this very real condition. Well written, funny and helpful. It has taken me about 3 years to work through some of those options and I am still working things out :) Look forward to reading more from you!

  16. Man I certainly was suffering from this during the last few years of college. I think it just takes a realization of what is most important to you and the ambition to then go after that. While certainly a daunting part of life, the mystery of the future is what makes existence so fascinating.

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  20. “Pursuing your passion or a side gig alongside a traditional career”.
    I like that. Suitable for the family situation in which you need a secure paycheck. You just have to be willing and determined enough to give up the vices that keep you from your side gig/passion after a long day at work.

  21. Emil

    Haha. Shoulditis is the sign o’ the times.

    Think about this. These days all we do is review, reconsider and try to make sure we don’t miss a thing. We are trained to optimize. Minimize the loss, minimize the waste, consider all options. By the time you’re done (provided you live 100 years) you are past tense.

    The best cure for shoulditis is a huge dose of catharsis. The trick here is that you can’t fake it. It has to come on its own. But when it does, oh boy, you’re cleansed

    Back to basics is the answer


  22. Android

    This article was amazing. I didn’t believe others felt this way as well. In my twenties, I failed to achieve a milestone in the time frame that I felt represented my potential. That sense of failure was a burden I carried with me for years. I did suck it up, climbed a higher mountain, and reclaimed that needed that sense of validation. A psychologist and some Fuckitol would have helped. I do find it sadly ironic that it was a sense of failure that led to a greater achievement.

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