Everything Worth Doing is Equally Hard to Do
I realized something recently, something about life that took me a long time to figure out. It would have been great if I had figured it out earlier, but it’s also great that I figured it out now. I just feel thankful that I finally figured it out, period.
I have done many things so far in life. Some were for a long time, while others were for a short time.
I have taught in high school, taught a night course for adults, been a short order cook, done farm work, written grants, been a pizza cook, a cocktail waitress, a temp agency employee, been a switchboard operator, I have clerked in art supply stores, written a novel, been a beat reporter, a science writer, a marketing writer, written a music column, drawn cartoons and comics, been a managing editor, made web sites, read my writing as performance art, been a parent, been an art handler, been an artist’s model, and labored in the heat as a moving girl one summer in New York City. I’ve done accounting and written grants.
Like a lot of other people, there have been many times when I had to temporarily give up doing what I loved the most in order to survive: to keep the lights on, and the bills paid.
The exhaustion from working at some jobs meant that for many years, I would “sneak in” writing whenever I could, getting up early in the morning, or writing as soon as I could when I got back from work, sneaking in some time before cooking and cleaning and actively parenting, as a single mother.
The things I have enjoyed the most are making art (photography, painting) and writing.
There are many other things which I still hope to do.
All of us are working with certain parameters in life, no matter who we are, or where we begin.
Everything worth doing is equally hard
The years pass quickly. It takes time to achieve mastery in any discipline. The most arduous task can become easy when enough time and practice is directed at it. So here’s what I finally figured out: It’s not that some things are easy and other things are hard. Everything is equally hard.
Why did it take me so long to realize this?
There are those who choose the career that seems the easiest. You may have been in a phase like this yourself at one point or another in your life, thinking, “Do I really want to spend three years out of my life and 65,000 I don’t have getting an MBA?”
You might have felt drawn to medicine, but reflected on your ability to concentrate or memorize facts and figures and stopped yourself from going to medical school because “It’s just too difficult.”
After that decision (keeping in mind that not choosing something is in itself a choice) you went into a career that seemed easier.
If everything is equally hard, then there is actually no benefit in doing anything other than your passion.
And then came the point at which you were working really hard at it — that thing at which you had previously chosen to spend your life doing. You started working so hard on the thing that you chose because you thought the pathway was easier, or that it wasn’t as hard as your number one choice in life.
So, by the time the truth dawned on you, you were like, “Well, I may as well have just done my first choice, anyway. If I realized something I didn’t really even want to do that much is this difficult, and I spent so many years mastering it, I guess I may have well gone ahead and did the thing I really wanted to do.”
Yes, you had to work with all of your might at the same thing (career, task, skill or relationship) had seemed to be the easier choice. You might feel an inevitable amount of chagrin at that point.
Be comforted in that this realization, which can come either with a bang or a whimper, has happened to many others before you, and will probably happen to many people after you.
The best way to look at it is that it’s one step, a big, important one, on the road of personal development.
Realizing that everything is equally hard brings you to a new point. If everything is equally hard, then there is actually no benefit in doing anything other than your passion.
You haven’t been trading sustainability for joy; you just thought you were.
You made a trade-off that wasn’t really a trade for anything at all.
This is when it’s time to stop and review, asking some serious questions of ourselves, questions like: Why did I choose what I believed was the easier option? Was it because I didn’t believe in myself enough? Or was it because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make a living from pursuing my passion? There some sort of a sense that I didn’t deserve to do what I wanted to do?
It can be hard to tease out the reasoning behind our decision-making process when it happens years after the fact.
Know that its okay for your passion to change, or to shift gears
Sometimes what you love to do the most changes. One day you wake up and you feel sort of “meh” about what you’re doing with your life. That doesn’t mean that you were on the wrong course before, It means that you were doing what was necessary at that time, or what had once been your passion, at the point at which you made that particular choice to go in that certain direction.
But, as you grew, adding new skills, and developing new interests, gaining experiences about different corners of the universe and your world expanded, you started to love something new that fed you more.
It’s okay to move forward in a new direction, leaving the old love for other people to whom it is new, and will bring that sense of energy and freshness to it that you one did, while you turn with beginner’s mind to a branch of life that is new to you.