Give me hills to climb and rocks to stumble on

I fear this may make me sound old, perhaps older than my birth certificate might tell you that I am, but I have been told I’m an old soul. I mean we have all made stupid decisions at the age of 13, 17,… 21, and its not like we will always make wise decisions for the rest of our lives because we get older. We are all fallible and as I talked about before, I think we should all be willing to make decisions that others think are stupid so that we can follow a path we believe in. But to get back to things, I’m about to age myself.

I was raised with parents that let us fail and made us work.

I have read and heard it discussed that my generation’s parent’s (Gen X and late baby boomers), upon watching their parents work so hard to support them and working so hard themselves, wanted to provide a life for their children (Gen Y or Millennials) where times were not hard and they were given every opportunity. Not being a parent myself I cannot speak to the desire ingrained in parents to provide everything for their children but I can imagine, with the amount of love they feel, they would want to give them the world. In giving us Millennials ‘the world’ there has been concern that we don’t know how to work hard, that we expect things too easily, and that we refuse to rise up to any struggle, preferring to give up for the sake of finding an easier way out. You may have heard terms like ‘helicopter parents’ and idealism associated with Millennials.

This being the norm there are obviously those that deviate from these standards. Our neediness and reliance on others likely exists on a spectrum between those who had helicopter parents around on the daily doing all the things for them and those whose parents loitered around in the background letting their kids occasionally be miserable failures and insisting they deal with their own messes. Either way it is likely we are all touched by these generational traits, even if only minutely.

Maybe every generation says this about the one younger than them in the classic ‘you call this music?’ vein, but I have to admit I find it troubling how much we cater to the idea that living should be easy, always fun, always be entertaining, and refusing to work through difficulties unless there is a great pay off in the end, and even then it shouldn’t be too much work.

I, personally, find that the thing I put the most time and dedication to, the things that have challenged me the most, are the things that are the most rewarding. Whether it be at school where I spent probably too much time studying in order to get a great grade, or in the gym where I struggle to lift heavy things and put them back down. The results of my time and hard work always pay off in spades, at least in a life lesson, if nothing else.

In the past I worked instructing children how to swim, as well as coordinating camps and had my supervisors tell me that I need to make my lessons more fun. While I won’t deny a game here or there, and I do love to have fun with kids, I genuinely believe when these kids are with me they are there to learn and learning means working to achieve your goals. If I don’t push kids to be better they stay where they are. They might be ‘happier’ for not failing at something but they haven’t learned anything new.

Hard work is just that, hard. It is difficult. You have to push yourself through pain, struggle, and the desire to call it quits. If you want to run and you never have, it will be hard. If you want an A and they don’t come naturally, it will be hard. If you are trying something new, it will be hard. But hard shouldn’t scare you, if anything, easy should scare you. If your challenges are too easy they aren’t challenging.

It is a good reminder to embrace discomfort. I’ve been learning that lesson a lot lately. I am good at embracing discomfort when it comes to physical activities and academic aspirations but there is still a lot of discomfort that I want to run away and hide  from until it politely goes away. We musn’t though, we must headstrong look it in the eye and say ‘get ready for the pain.’

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