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You’ve Already Done Hard Things

I found this quote in a newsletter by Nat Eliason recently that I think is interesting:

But I recently realized there is a very good reason to take Calculus. It’s to prove you can do hard things.

The ability to do hard things is perhaps the most useful ability you can foster in yourself or your children. And proof that you are someone who can do them is one of the most useful assets you can have on your life resume.

I’m not here to talk about Calculus though.

I am here to talk about childhood abuse and mental health. Surviving either of those is hard. Growing up in an abusive situation is hard.

We’ve already done hard things, but we don’t give ourselves credit for it. Typically, we do the opposite, blaming ourselves for the trauma or our mental health struggles, thus seeing ourselves as weak, the kind of people who can’t do hard things. That carries over into all aspects of our lives. We don’t take risks in jobs, relationships, etc. because we don’t think we’re capable and we don’t think we could survive failure.

Which is weird, given how much we have survived. But, I’ve been there and I understand it. I had to start all over again as an adult doing hard things, and surviving when things didn’t always go correctly. I had to prove to myself that I could learn new skills. Realistically, I had to prove to myself that I could take care of myself as an adult by learning how to take care of myself as an adult. But, every time I questioned whether I could do it, I’d look back at what I had survived and remind myself that I’d done hard things.

Heck, I learned Calculus in High School. I can do hard things.

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