322. Difficulty

A friend of mine once took issue with the statement, “Nobody said life would be easy.” She distinctly remembers getting the impression that it would. Maybe adults don’t come right out and tell children that life is going to be easy, but they aren’t always completely honest about how hard it can be, and some people have rude awakenings later on, when they find out.
Life can be quite difficult. I learned that only recently. I had thought that if I did everything the way I was supposed to, everything would fall neatly into place, and I’d gracefully coast through life. It wasn’t happening, but I thought that was because I wasn’t doing it right. If I had made the “right” decisions, I thought, I wouldn’t be dealing with the difficulties I was dealing with.
I really do like life, but it’s not anywhere near as easy as I thought it was going to be. I grew up in houses owned by my parents. Some of the houses were big (by my standards), and sat on what I considered lots of land. I thought my life would be more moderate – that I would own a little house, and hardly any land. And I thought that would be relatively easy to get. I gradually learned that even my modest plans were going to take a lot more work than I’d thought.
I could spend the rest of this article complaining about how hard my life has been – even the parts I thought were easy as I was living them. But you’ve probably heard enough about how hard people’s lives are. It’s somewhat healthy to be aware of difficulties as you experience them; it makes it so you don’t blame yourself too much when you fail to do what’s difficult for you, and you take more pride when you succeed. But obsessing on your troubles can get obnoxious. And it can become competitive (you think YOU’VE got troubles?…).
We do sometimes give our children the impression that life is going to be easy. Most people do have some easy times, and it’s all relative, anyway. Children see their adult role models buying things that cost several weeks’ worth of allowance, and seeming nonchalant about it. They see that adults who want to get somewhere have enviable resources for travelling – cars, buses, sometimes even airplanes. It can be hard to be a child, and adult life can seem relatively easy.
As hard as we try to help our children prepare for what may happen, there’s only so much we can prepare them for. Maybe we ought to make sure we’re careful as we give children our messages about how easy and difficult life is going to be: some parts of life will be easier than you think, some will be harder than you think, and some will be just as hard or easy as you think. Que sera, sera.

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