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Can one suffer from success? Or is it just a meme?

Can one suffer from success? Or is it just a meme?

When DJ and producer DJ Khaled dropped his seventh album, “Suffering from Success”, the cover became an instant meme. On it, we see a despondent DJ Khaled, covered in seemingly expensive jewelry and a fur coat. The message is clear: success is not perfect. 

Though suffering from success is a meme and it’s often sarcastic, it expresses a clear and possible reality. It is indeed possible to have too much of a good thing. Many people that are struggling or going through a tough time may not be able to relate. Though you may not expect it, success can lose its shine. 

Humans will always want more and more. This is why we find celebrities that even though seemingly look like they have it too, they may still open up about being miserable or sad. It is true that we are taught to believe that once we reach our goals, we will feel happy and fulfilled. That’s not always the case though, because happiness depends on many different factors. 

Today, we want to discuss the concept of suffering from success and try to understand what it means beyond the memes and the LOLs. Acknowledging the fact that success is not the only thing you need to feel good about yourself, is very important. It can help us focus on more than just our careers or the financial aspect of things!

How Can One Suffer from Success?

Once you reach the top, where do you go from there? This realization can lead to a kind of existential suffering that’s not easy to shake. Additionally, it leads you to doubt others and their intentions. For example, is your partner really with you because of who you are or because of your status and money?

At the end of the day, money can’t actually buy happiness. Does it make your life easier and better? Yes, of course. Not having to worry about whether or not you’re able to pay your bills is a huge relief. Also, being able to do the things you want to do without any financial obstacles is amazing. 

Though having money takes a huge burden off our shoulders, it doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. You can have everything you ever wanted but still, feel like something’s missing. After all, happiness doesn’t only come from accolades or material possessions. 

Everything in life has pros and cons, success is not an exception. The more successful you are, the more you’re able to see the shortcomings. That’s what suffering from success is about and why it’s so real. Successful people are held to such high standards, it can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming.

For example, think about celebrities for a second. They are successful and known around the world, but they’ve had to sacrifice things as well. They don’t have any privacy, they’re harassed by paparazzi, they’re constantly criticized, their actions, body shape, and words are dissected all the time, they’re not seen as humans, etc. 

Just because their lives are not difficult in the same way other people’s lives are difficult doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. That’s just an example, though. You can be successful at smaller scales and still have issues that other people may find hard to sympathize with. It can be very isolating. 

Why Is Suffering from Success Hard to Empathize With?

Suffering is defined as a state of ongoing pain, distress, or hardship. It can be a bit dramatic to say that successful people suffer as a result of success itself. They’re not in physical agony, after all. However, there is a deep and subtle sense of dissatisfaction and pressure that can get in the way of true happiness. 

It’s difficult to empathize with suffering from success because, hey, these people can get a grip. They have resources and they can get the help they need to cope with mental health issues stemming from their success and everything that comes with it. 

It can even be more challenging to empathize with them if you compare them to their counterparts. The people who live paycheck to paycheck, who were forced by life’s circumstances to push their unique talents aside, who didn’t have as many opportunities or privileges to accomplish what they want in life, etc. 

It’s a lot easier to empathize with the people who never had a shot, to begin with. Why? Because that’s more relatable. However, we have to remember that not all successful people came from privilege. Not all of them were handed their success nor born in success. 

Most of them took their talents and worked incredibly hard to get to where they are. Now they’re aware of the limit of their potential and the disadvantages of success. They’ve reached the top and that’s it, they’re at the end of the road. Believe it or not, that can be very unsatisfying. 


When you sacrifice so much to reach your goals and achieve your idea of success, you may find that getting to the top doesn’t feel like you thought it would. You may feel bad about the things you had to sacrifice when it’s too late.

Yes, it’s great to reach success at last, but it is definitely possible to have too much of a good thing. That’s exactly why striking a balance in one’s life is so essential, so knowing about suffering from success is a must if you want to avoid it. 

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