Think of a cute little duck just waddling around in a pond, casually minding its own business unlike some of your neighbors.
The duck may seem serene and at peace, but underneath the surface of the water, it paddles its feet in a berserk manner, attempting to stay buoyant. This is what's known as the 'Duck Syndrome'.
The phrase 'Duck Syndrome' was coined by students at Standford University to summarize the behavior of looking perfectly calm amidst chaos created out of insecurities, unachieved goals, a huge pile of work, and so on.
This analogy primarily corresponds to the situation of university students today. They watch their peers glide through their work and responsibilities while they are left frantically trying to stay afloat (pun intended). Of course, seeing your friends succeed is a warm feeling, and you're happy for them. Still, on the other side, you also end up wondering how they are managing to do an internship, all of the assignments due, getting in a solid hour of work out every day, AND getting 7 hours of sleep every night. Meanwhile, you're just trying to catch up with what happened in class a week ago, on 4 hours of sleep.
Let's not forget the impact of social media on people to maintain a perfect life, the never-ending pressures of deadlines, and the exams that never seem to stop coming at us like trains. Moreover, the emphasis on good grades goes without saying. The 'hustle culture' of the modern era may have a significant role in duck syndrome. Students are forced to work harder and quicker than they ever have to keep up with what's happening around them. A real 'grind or die' situation. The concept has not formally been considered a mental health disorder. This means there are no diagnostic criteria, and it has not been added to the DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) or the ICD (International Classification of Diseases). Although, it has been used to describe college students or graduates who are desperately trying to keep up with demands.
Duck syndrome, on a more serious, may be associated with clinical depression or anxiety.
Even though there are no set diagnostic criteria, according to Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, common symptoms include: pretending as though everything is alright on a superficial level while being frantic inside, the feeling that everyone is doing far better than oneself, and the situation is being scrutinized to perform better. Other symptoms may include extreme stress, headaches, disturbed sleep, and a significantly decreased level of concentration. The 'fake it till you make it' concept has been normalized to a large extent and needs to be canceled. Moreover, the duck syndrome needs to get more attention than it is. The first step for this is to create awareness amongst our own circles. Only by talking about it will it be accepted and dealt with adequately.
The Duck Syndrome is also responsible for the increasing FOMO (Fear of missing out) in society. FOMO is contagious and a powerful weapon for advertisement irrespective of whether it is ethical or not. A lot of people, who aren't much informed fell into the trap of advertisements based on FOMO.
An advertisement showing a 9-year-old kid coding an app for which investors are fighting to invest upon and the kid's neighbor is getting shocked by such a huge success is bound to put a lot of parents into the FOMO trap. The advertisement wants to make people think that if they enroll their kids in their coding classes, their kids will learn to build fundable App the way the ducks appear while swimming, however, they aren't aware of the struggle the duck makes to keep up the pace. All that parents perceive is that there is some kid called Chintu, who build an app and is going to be incredibly rich. If we compare Chintu with a duck over here then he hasn't even developed his legs properly. When Chintu will grow up, he will learn about the implications of building the App. He will need to learn about Backend programming, Frontend Programming, User Interface, Making a business model, building a team, building the minimum Viable product, preparing a pitch deck, and so on. Showing Chintu's life as calm as a 9-year-old coder and entrepreneur is lethal. It will push a lot of people into believing that ducks don't have strong legs to pedal while they glide.
Although, duck syndrome is experienced by many people and it is entirely natural, Whether or not it's okay to be a duck is your decision.