I recall being fifteen or sixteen and telling my mother that when I grew up I wanted to be a writer, that I wanted to write stories and share them with the world, that I wanted to see my book in bookshops.
I also recall her telling me that it would be too difficult, that many writers have tried and failed, that it wouldn’t be possible because it was too hard, that I should have a different dream…
Tomorrow I would have done exactly what she told me was not possible to do – to become a published writer. Sure, I’m a long way off from being the next Amy Tan where I can make a living from my writing, but I would have achieved what she told me wouldn’t be possible because it would be too hard.
I also recall that since that conversation, any time someone said I wouldn’t be able to achieve something because it was ‘too hard’, I would take those words, scrunch them up and swallow them. They became nourishment to me, they motivated me even more. Too hard? Okay, watch me do it anyway.
I did it with achieving straight A grades at A – Level, even getting full marks in some of my exams. I did it with my BA dissertation when I chose a topic that hadn’t been done before. I did it when I became the youngest Senior Salesperson at Louis Vuitton aged 21. I did it when I finished my PGCE at the top of my class, I did it when I started training Krav Maga and even became an instructor. I did it starting my own Krav Maga kids business and ploughed through COVID lockdowns.
It got my thinking about what ‘too hard’ means. Here’s some of the thoughts that came to mind: only a few people have done it, no one else has done it, it can’t be done because of your size, gender, age, creed, sexuality, colour, socio-economic status, blah-blah-blah. It’s too hard because of lack of their confidence in you, in self-confidence, due to judgements, assumptions, fear of failing, fear of success, lack of opportunity, prejudice, discrimination, social structures – the list can go on and on.
What occurred to me whilst wring this is that ‘too hard’ feels so much like a barrier that is either imposed on us, wrapped so tightly around us like a strait jacket either by external or internal factors. But like all barriers, they can be hammered down and broken.
I like the words ‘too hard’ because I see it as a challenge, and nothing tastes sweeter than when I prove myself wrong.