(Insights from a 30-Something College Student) #6: Do The Hard Thing

Jan 11, 2019

3 minutes

Hard things are hard, and most of us don’t like hard things.

We don’t like hard tasks, hard conversations, hard problems – especially if we know they’ll be hard even before they start.

I was at a coffee shop earlier this week near my college campus, and there were two students chatting nearby. A Vietnamese girl was talking to her Mexican friend about how she really wants to join the Navy, but she knows that her family will say no.

Her Mexican friend talked about how even though he isn’t the oldest in his family, his older siblings have dubbed him “the man of the family” because he’s the one who went to college, which also makes him responsible for taking extra care of his younger brother while his mom is sick.

Both of these are hard situations that can only end two ways: both of those students end up with miserable lives, wondering “what if?” OR they have hard conversations.


In my attempt to stop living under a rock (shut up, it’s quiet under my rock!), I recently binge-watched Marie Kondo‘s Tidying Up on Netflix. In the span of one week, 8 people recommended the show to me, even though they know I’m a minimalist and rather tidy too.

Marie helps to guide various couples and families at different stages in their lives to “tidy up” their homes and theoretically, their lives.

As a former stuff lover, I really enjoyed reading her book a few years ago. Even before I read it, I had already begun purging my life and felt exponentially better for it.

Watching the Netflix series gave me a new insight into how much emotion people attach to things instead of memories. I get rid of things judiciously, even if it has meaning (but doesn’t “spark joy”) – instead, I’ll take a picture of it or scan it into my computer, then I’ll recycle it. I have a very small collection of physical memories that mean a lot to me and still spark joy. They can all fit into a backpack.

That’s not a brag. I was brought to tears by the amount of emotion some people have to their items … but MOST of their stuff didn’t induce that reaction. No tears, no joy sparked, it was just STUFF.

Tidying up is just one step in the hard questions that need to be answered. WHY did they buy so much stuff in the first place? WHY do they think they need more clothes, more toys … etc?

Until the hard “why” conversation happens, they’re likely to buy more and have the same problem again, no matter how small they can fold their t-shirts.


Hard things are hard, but DOING the hard things is what makes us learn, grow, and ultimately, be a hell of a lot happier.

So stop avoiding the hard things.

Turn toward the hard things.

Do the hard things.

And I practice what I preach.

It’s less than 2 weeks until college starts again and I’ve got two major hard things that I’m facing head-on.

ONE: my conversational Japanese is terrible (if you ask me). So, I’m facing it head-on and going to talk with native Japanese speakers in-person on-campus 3 times a week, EVERY WEEK, for an hour.

TWO: my entire adult life, I’ve had some form of debt. Now, I’m looking at EVERY penny I spend and dedicating myself to getting out of debt before I move to Japan (even while traveling to Japan and not being a hermit).

Will both of these things be hard? Yes

Can I accomplish them? Yes

Will it always be fun? Hell no

Will it be worth it? Hell yes

Do the hard things, or the hard things will do you (and not in a fun way).

Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

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