Choose Your Hard Isn't Cancelled

Every now and then the "choose your hard" meme spikes on social media. Some are quick to denounce it as a false choice because not everything hard is a choice. They're missing the point.

Choose your hard is about recognizing which hard things are choices. Of course you didn't choose to get cancer, or to have a child die, or any of myriad horrible things. But you do get to choose how you respond to those things. You can choose to be bitter, or you can choose to be better. You can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be a survivor.

I have a pretty debilitating auto-immune disease that, untreated, would "turn my spine into bamboo" to use the metaphor that my doctor used to explain it to me. Now that I'm getting older, my vision is starting to go. I've had better-than-20/20 vision for my entire life, and now that I have even just the slightest astigmatism (multiple optometrists questioned whether I actually needed glasses), 5 minutes of looking at a computer screen without my glasses gives me a headache. I have moderate tinnitus that is exacerbated by the white-noise machine that my wife can't sleep without. Both of my children have been hospitalized for significant amounts of time, requiring me to miss work and stay with them (not to mention the stress of having children with that level of healthcare needs).

I could go on for 5 more paragraphs.

None of these things were choices. All of them "happened to me" and they are all hard on their own.

I choose to take the medication that makes living in this body bearable. For the first 10ish years that was an I.V. infusion every 6 weeks. Then it was at-home injections. Now it's a daily pill. Next year it could be something else.

I choose to wear glasses, and take care of them.

I choose to sleep with earphones in so that I can listen to old movies while I drift off rather than slowly go insane from the ringing in my ears.

I choose to be grateful for the time that I have with my children, and to be grateful for the medical professionals who have helped them. I choose to be grateful that I am a parent in 2023, and not 1823.

But it's more than that

Not only do I choose to look at the bright side of the hard things that have happened to me, I choose which hard things I'm going to do while not letting my hardships hold me back.

Body wants to turn to stone? In 2014 I got my skydiving license. I am a parachute rigger. I have 2 different skydiving instructional ratings and I have nearly 800 jumps. (By the way, if you're ever in south-eastern PA and want to make a jump, hit me up!)

I choose not only to make my living by making computers do my bidding, but to constantly follow my ambition to keep getting better at it. I choose to keep learning new things, and to keep teaching others what I've learned.

I chose to write a book because it sounded like a fun challenge.

I make fine furniture[1] from local hardwoods. I turn bowls on my lathe. I find joy in making things, and I choose not to be discouraged by the projects that end up in the burn pit.

Choose what motivates you

"Choose your hard" spikes on social media because it's pithy, and it works for a lot of people.

It reminds me that while working up the motivation to exercise can be hard today, being overweight and out of shape is hard but on a different time scale. I don't know yet if my body is capable of getting the phsyique I want, but I know that I can choose to work towards it regardless.

Nuance is important in this discussion, too. If "choose your hard" doesn't work for you, that's ok. But that doesn't mean it can't work for anyone. Likewise, I'm sure that some people take the choose your hard thing too far and come off as judgemental of you and your choices. That's not ok, and I'm sorry if that's been your experience.

The idea of "not yucking someone else's yum" works both ways.

  1. Well, I try. I'm not half bad. But I'm no master, either. Lots of work to do in that department. 😅 ↩︎


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