“I’m STUCK daddy, I’m STUCK!” My little girl, Katharine, is just over 2 years old, and she exercises her very budding vocabulary extensively (wonder where she gets that from?) When we are playing and rolling around on the floor I’ll sometime hold on to her, preventing her from standing up or moving. Her understanding of this feeling is being stuck, thus the sentence that started this post. “I’m STUCK Daddy!” to which I reply, you’re not stuck honey, I’m holding you down.

Therein lies the magic of perspective. Scan your environment right now…go ahead, do it. Do you ever feel stuck; trapped; pinned down? Take a look again; are you really stuck, or is someone (or something) holding you down. You see the problem is the same, but the solution is very very different. If you are stuck, you have some steps you can take to wiggle yourself loose. You may have to exert a lot of energy, but given enough counter force, you’ll be able to get free. It’s also likely that if you are stuck, much like Pumbaa in this picture above, you probably got yourself there, so you can get yourself out.

On the other hand, getting free from being held down requires different skills altogether to get free. In fact, the energy needed to get out may be easier than you think. Communication skills, negotiation skills, identifying good friends/mentors in your life, and much more can help you when you feel held down. For my daughter, and for many of us, struggling against a force that is holding you down only makes it worse. Oftentimes when my daughter takes a minute to listen she hears me say, “just ask nicely and I’ll let you go,” to which she finally responds “pleeeeeeeeeeeeaseeee,” and then she’s free. Ask yourself if your “stuck” situations are actually people or things holding you back. Ask yourself if the answer to getting unstuck is staring you right in the face, or whether or not someone else who loves you or cares about you is trying to tell you how to break free. There is an entirely different post needed to talk about not getting held down in the first place, but we will deal with that later. For now, look at the people and situations in your life and ask these three questions:

  • Does this person/thing/situation make me happy;
  • Is my life quantitatively or qualitatively better because of this person/thing/situation;
  • Am I excited when I think about this person/thing/situation?

Answers to these questions will help you determine if you are stuck or just being held down by something. You don’t have time to live life stuck, whether its in a major, a relationship, or friendship. So get serious about your situation. Get unstuck friends, and let me know if I can help you with that.


Published by Dr. Michael D. Anthony

I currently serve as the Vice President of Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. I served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Louisville and Loyola University in Chicago, IL. In order to expand my life's work beyond my day-to-day job, I started my own consulting work in leadership and diversity in 2008. I completed my Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville, where I also earned my Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from North Carolina State University. A native of Charlotte, NC I am passionate about leadership development, organizational change, and the ability of effective leaders to transform their communities. During my professional career I have made it my personal goal to be a strong and vocal advocate for students, faculty, and staff, and have a life-long vision to empower others to affect positive change in their community. I live in Rochester, MN.

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