What Does Carry the Weight of the World on My Shoulders Mean?

Carrying the Weight of the World Meaning

Definition: To feel or act like one has immense amounts of problems.

Origin of Carry the Weight of the World on My Shoulders

This expression comes from Greek mythology.

The main god, Zeus, was angry that a group of people, called the Titans, was fighting the Olympians. The Olympians were the other gods. Zeus chose one of them, Atlas, to punish.

Zeus condemned Atlas to hold the heavens on his back. The purpose was to separate earth and heaven, which would prevent the two from mixing so much.

Nowadays, many people misinterpret this story and believe Atlas holds the world on his shoulders. Regardless of whether he carries the weight of heaven or earth, the weight must be very great. Therefore, this expression indicates that a person feels very heavy with responsibilities or troubles.

Examples of Carry the Weight of the World on My Shoulders

define weight of the world on your shouldersIn this conversation, two high school students talk about some issues one of them is having at school.

Lisa: Hey! What’s the matter? You look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Jackie: I feel as if I do. My two best friends are fighting with each other. If they can’t fix their problem, I don’t know how to choose between them. I know they’ll make me choose.

Lisa: I’m sorry to hear about that. I see why you feel so stressed.

In the below dialogue, two friends discuss a third friend. They are worried about him.

Seth: Have you talked to Horatio lately?

Jimmy: No, why?

Seth: He seems sort of depressed these days. It’s like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Jimmy: I know several of his family members have been having health problems. We should let him know we’re available to talk can help if need be.

More Examples

Meaning of world on shouldersThis excerpt is from an advice column. The advice columnist tells a man that moms should share their challenges with their partners.

  • We moms tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders; I know I sometimes feel that way. But we shouldn’t. We need to remember to help share the load with our significant others, relatives and friends. –Omaha World-Herald

The second news excerpt is about advice from a professional tennis player. She reminds another athlete not to let other problems burden her.

  • At some point you have to play for yourself, you have to compete for yourself. You can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and I think that’s really important for people to realize that, yeah, it might be in the back of my head or it might be in my mind once it’s over. –USA Today


To carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulders means that someone is heavily burdened by many troubles.