A Different Kind of Hard

I find myself saying the above phrase a lot. Sometimes it is in response to a friend asking me how a life change of mine is going. Sometimes it is the answer I hear myself giving to someone wondering what might be in store for them as they make choices in their own lives.

A different kind of hard.

Perhaps it is my season of life, but the more I learn, the more I think it is in every season of life. Every next step is often a different kind of hard. Even things that should be totally delightful—a new love, a new job—though they may have their “goods” (love! connection! purpose! money!) they also have their “hards” (compromise! consideration! coworkers! work!)

If you think a change is going to make life a whole lot easier, chances are that, while it certainly may in some respects, it will also bring about a different kind of hard.

It’s a great lesson to remember when you hear your inner voice murmuring “if only _____ was different, then it would be so much easier…” or “once _____ happens, everything will fall into place…” Sure things will change—and while that change hopefully brings about positive, good “stuff,” it may very well also bring about a different kind of hard.

With the Rio Olympics in full bloom, I think about how these athletes have dedicated so much of their lives in pursuit of their Olympic dreams. And I also remember the numerous interviews I’ve seen or read of former athletes that speak to the emptiness that can come to them once the dust has settled and they look at their medals (if they are so blessed) and think, “Now what? What does this all mean?”


Will van Wingerden


Of course, I’m not saying this applies to all or even most of these incredibly focused and dedicated competitors, but it does serve to remind us that even achieving our loftiest of goals can sometimes result in a different kind of hard.

As someone in the Sandwich Generation, I deal not only with different stages of my kid’s growth but different stages of caring for my aging parent.

My mom lived with me and my family for a looong time. It was layers upon layers of challenge. It was hard. When she did finally move to a place that could meet her needs and adjust to the level of future care she might require, most people in my world—including me—thought, now it will be so much easier! But it wasn’t a problem solved. It just evolved into a different kind of hard.

While many problems, time demands, and concerns faded, new problems, time demands, and concerns that I never foresaw are now a part of my life. It is a different kind of hard.

And such is life.


William Poulos


It doesn’t deny the good but acknowledges the hard. Whether it is our own personal growth, the growth of our kids, the needs of loved ones, or any other challenge or evolution life brings our way.

It can be beautiful…but rarely is it easy. Rarely does the complex resolve into the simple.

It took a few major life curve balls for me to truly learn and absorb this, and I think this is true for most of us, right? I mean, you’ve really got to deal with some shit to understand that it not only stinks but also fertilizes us to come to full bloom.

Bet you won’t find that little bit of wisdom in any Hallmark card.

Life is often (maybe always?) moving from one hard place to another. It doesn’t mean that that is all there is—the difficult, the challenging—but it does mean that we should be prepared and know that while we may catch a breather, we should be ready to face the next hard place we find ourselves in…or maybe even caught between.


photo by Julius Rinke


Thankfully, even when we are surrounded with those hard places, the sun still rises. And sometimes there’s nothing quite as beautiful as seeing the rays of joy and hope shine through the very thing that causes the light to glint just so.




4 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Hard

  1. Wow, that’s me in a nutshell. I’m forever looking forward to a better time. A time when all the pieces fit together. And yet when I make the change and am enjoying the new, I look back with fondness. Why just yesterday I said to my husband, “Some day I’m going to call this the good old days.” Maybe the key is to enjoy the present with all its thorns and roses.

    1. Yes, Leanne! It is a lifelong challenge for me, and I need plenty of reminders…The roses do always have their thorns–but that doesn’t take away their beauty or their heavenly scent, right? 🙂

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