Hard is Hard

During this ordeal I experienced moments of feeling sorry for myself—I would think, why me? This is hard. I then listened to a ‘TED talk’ by someone named Ash Beckham[1]. During the talk she says something very interesting: “Hard is not relative, hard is hard. Who can tell me that explaining to someone you’ve just declared bankruptcy is harder than telling someone you love you just cheated on them?”[2] I have found myself falling into the same trap, ranking the ‘hardness’ of my ordeal next to others. But Ash has a point, why somehow try to quantify the ‘hardness’ of this ordeal? What would it accomplish? Of course, this mentality would not apply to extremes—going through a divorce is obviously more difficult than dealing with a hangnail. But beyond this, the idea is that we would be wasting our time if we were constantly trying to decipher how hard our situation is.

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During my surgery rotation, the surgeon that led the rotation said something quite poignant. He said, “People don’t care where or what you’ve been through, they only care where you’re going.” At the time, I didn’t put much thought into the comment, brushing it off as a sign of his bitterness. But in the years to follow, I found him to be right. It’s not that the ‘people’ he refers to are short sighted or wrong, in fact they highlight a very important point: where or what you’ve been through is only significant if it alters how you are today or tomorrow. Thus trying to somehow quantify or rank the ‘hardness’ of this is a fruitless endeavor. The only way this ordeal becomes significant is if it changes the trajectory of where I am going.

Only time will tell what comes of this, how my life is affected. Right now it would be easy to point out the physical limitations that this tumor has created, or even that this tumor has uncovered a hidden love of mine, writing. But 5-6 years from now when the effects of the tumor are (hopefully) less than now, what will its true effects be? That I don’t know. What I do know is that if I spend even one second feeling sorry for myself or trying to somehow rank the ‘hardness’ of my condition, it would be time wasted. Hard is hard. Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your precious time trying to figure out how hard it actually is.

[1] It’s a great talk, see it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc

[2] If you don’t want to watch the whole talk, she speaks these lines at 3:45

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