There are times in life where everything makes sense. You know, those moments where the world is shining bright and you have no wants or needs besides just, you know, being there. You are surrounded by people that you love and that love you. Your work is enjoyable and fulfilling. You are physically and mentally healthy in all ways.
And then there are those other times.
You know, those “other times” where you need a little push. The times where you are trying to discover what it means to live with true work-life balance. The times where you feel a little lost on how you got to this particular moment in time. The times you question your past decisions and wonder if you are making the right ones.
And then a friend says something that makes perfect sense.
For me, it was a sentiment that I heard hundreds of times: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” Admittedly, my friend said it in a lot less aggressive way than our dear Theodore Roosevelt. She simply stated, “Anything that comes easy is not worth having.”
This bothered me. Perhaps it was the beers I had, or the fact that it was pushing close to midnight (what can I say, I go to bed early), but I wasn’t sure how I felt about if something is easy, it’s not worth having.
For me, life has come pretty easily. Not to go down the whole racial-side of this conversation but I am a white female that grew up with privilege. This, in itself, has allowed me to make the transition from child to adult with ease. I have always had a security net of family and friends ready to lift me back up from any mistake. Heck, I have lived a life where I can afford mistakes!
But that isn’t the complete story. I’ve also been fortunate enough to be naturally intelligent and athletic. Ok, ok, ok, I know, this is starting to sound like an ad on how amazing my life is but it’s not all rainbows and puppies. My natural ability to understand things easily and, at the same time, my natural hand-eye coordination granted me an easy upbringing filled with friends and successes.
You know, those formative years where you discover who you are and what it will take you for to meet your goals? Well for me, it came down to playing a game—how can I beat the “system” by working easier not harder? Now, usually the saying is “working smarter not harder” but, in my case, it’s easier. I easily understood the content that was being taught to me. I easily made the sport team tryouts. I easily made friends. As time went on, I easily graduated high school, undergraduate, and graduate school. I figured out the system and I worked it with ease.
So now that we are all caught up on my easy life, let’s get to the point: This easy life has taught me lots of things but has left me with many thoughts on what it means to live life to the fullest. Sure, there goes another saying you have probably heard many times before, but what does it mean? What does it mean to live a life fully? Just because something is easy, does that mean it is not worth having or fulfilling?
I’m going to argue that sometimes easy is fulfilling and worthwhile. Well, it is for a while. At some point, the easiness of something starts to tear up your soul. Dramatic much? Oh, yeah, the truth hurts! At some point, you start to question the effort you put into things. You start to question your own motivations. You start to question your achievements. You start to question your goals. You start to question everything you have ever done—did I make the decisions I made because it was easy or because I truly wanted that?
I guess a lot of therapy and self-reflection may help answer this question in its entirety. As of right now, the easy answer is to, well, answer with another question: What could I do, who could I become, if I tried to accomplish something that required effort, was difficult, and, unto itself, painful?
Hopefully, in the near future, I will have an answer to this question. As of right now, this easy life is not cutting it for me anymore. I am missing that feeling of pride that comes with solving a difficult problem. I am missing that consistent brain activity that comes with persistence overcoming resistance. I am missing that fire that burns inside of you when you know you spent a full day breaking down barriers and fighting the good fight (whatever that looks like to you). I am missing that moment, right before you go to bed, where you tell yourself you did everything you could to make the world a better place.
This is not said to suggest that you leave your job or change your lifestyle because it is easy. This is not said to suggest something easy is wrong. This is about understanding yourself and being ready to battle the status quo, personally and culturally. This is about knowing when you have become stagnate, when you have stopped pushing, when you have decided to “let things be,” when you have let life be easy. This is about consistently evaluating your life to discover where you were, where you are, and where you are going.
As our dear friend Theodore continued, “…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
My name is Samantha Walters and I am what you would consider a “millennial executive” over at Colocation America. Every Monday (get it, get it, Samantha on Mondays – the S.O.M column) I will write a little something on whatever is on my mind from business practices to current events and everything else in between.