But it’s easy for you…

Grace under pressure buttonSometimes stupid things fall out of people’s mouths and you’re just left slack jawed, wondering how do I respond to this—without smacking them upside the head, ‘cause, well, that’s just not nice.

Often well deserved, but not nice.

So now you’re going to ask me why I bring that up now.  Blame my son, he just graduated from college.

He just graduated cum laude with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Mama bear is super proud—I know you’re surprised to hear that. He’s one of those scary-smart types who does calculus in his sleep and thinks advanced physics is wayyy too easy.

Yeah, one of those.

In a similar vein, I have a niece who is currently in college on a four year athletic scholarship for golf. She’s an amazing athlete, leading her team to their best season in college history. Super proud of her.

Both of them showed very early on that they had some special aptitudes in their respective areas. My niece skunked us at miniature golf when she was barely big enough to hold a club. My son taught his younger brother algebra when they were both in elementary school. It was pretty clear at that point, we had some unique abilities going on.

So, in some ways, their achievements haven’t been all that surprising.

Flash forward to the morning I sat down to coffee with someone who was asking me about my books. I made the mistake of sharing my excitement over one of them receiving a BRAG medallion. My companion turned to me and said, “Oh, that’s nice, but it’s easy for you.”

Easy for me?

Ah, yeah, no, not so much.

It was a wonder that the rest of the coffee shop didn’t hear the crash of that stupid hitting the ground.

My self-control hit new heights that day and I didn’t say or do anything that I have since regretted—except maybe for not doing a good enough job correcting that perspective.

Why is it that instead of recognizing someone’s achievement with congratulations, we downplay it by insisting they have some special ability that makes it easy for them.

I suppose they do have a special ability: focus and hard work.

My niece has spent countless hours on the golf course practicing, taking lessons, and playing tournaments. She’s endured heat, cold and painful injuries and kept on keeping on. She’s missed out of other fun things to practice. Yes, she has innate talent, but without the drive and hard work, she would still be playing miniature golf.

My son may make multivariate differential equations look easy—if that’s possible—but I know the hours of study he’s put in. He doesn’t EVER talk about how hard he studies, but I get to see the work he puts in. All of his grades and scholarships were earned through those efforts.

It hasn’t been easy for them to achieve what they have. And it wasn’t easy to write a book.

I wish I’d stood up and said that more clearly over coffee that day.  It’s too easy to let others down play our hard work and efforts, and effectively make us doubt the worth of them. After all, if it’s easy for us, then it isn’t really important or a real achievement, right?

Yah, no.

Making it look easy is the sure sign of someone who has really honed their craft be it calculus, golf, writing, carpentry, cooking, teaching children (I could go on and on…) to expertise. Just don’t get that confused with it actually being easy.

What do you make look easy? Think about it and give yourself a good solid pat on the back for it, then go out and find someone who makes something else look easy and tell them how proud of them you are. We’ll all be better for it.

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    • Meg on May 16, 2016 at 12:22 pm
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    I agree. There may be natural tendencies or abilities that exhibit themselves before a child is very old, but to really become proficient in any area, one must work at it! Or as Lady Catherine would advise Elizabeth, she will not become really proficient on the piano without more practice, but thankfully Darcy realizes Elizabeth spent her time more wisely. Elizabeth has become quite skillful in dealing with people such as Lady Catherine or Mr Collins.

    • Natasja Rose on May 16, 2016 at 12:58 pm
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    Yes.
    Sometimes people have an aptitude for things, and it does help if your passion is something that can benefit you in the long run, but that doesn’t man that it’s “easy”.
    One of my clients knows that I write. I know that he speaks from ignorance, but it is SO FRUSTRATING when he says that I must be nearly finished with a draft, when I had told him only two days ago that I was struggling with the last few chapters, because “all you need to do is write it down”.

    No, I need to write it in a way that I don’t cringe in shame when I read over it. I need to capture the voice and emotion of the characters themselves. I need to research and fact-check, and strike a balance between sensational and realistic. I need to edit and spell-check and make sure that one part of the book that was typed on a computer doesn’t contradict another part that was scribbled on a paper serviette when I didn’t have the rest of the story at hand to check, or because that scene was written months before when this part of the book was still only an outline.
    It takes practice and dedication and while I love being a writer, the one thing it will never be, is ‘easy’.

    To think that a thing is easy is to become complacent, something that is impossible in something you are truly passionate about. By its very nature, Passion cannot be easy, because passion is what keeps us setting new goals and trying new things and reaching out to learn more, because we will never be satisfied with ‘good enough’.

    • JerryT on May 16, 2016 at 9:06 pm
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    Congratulations on the achievements of your son and niece! Sounds like in their excellence they’re chips off ye olde block. 🙂

  1. Yes, exactly!

    Making it look easy isn’t the same as it being easy. Saying what your coffee buddy said is a cop out. I’ve heard similar cop outs from individuals and also from parents comparing their kids to others at the school where I work. To me, it’s a way to show envy without calling it such.

    Timely reminder to help me check that stuff in myself! Thanks, Maria!

  2. Yes, I have heard that many times. As I used to teach at a university, some of the moms in our homeschool co-op say the same about me as I grade their teens’ expository essays. I spend over an hour on each essay, often writing as much or more than the student did as I offer suggestions for more effective structure and wording, point out leaps in logic, encouraging and supporting the areas of the essay which have been well-written, etc. And then I get the off-handed comment, “Yeah, but it’s easy for you. You have a grammar-brain.”

    So I know what you mean. 🙂

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

    • Carole in Canada on May 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm
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    Congratulations to all three of you! Having an aptitude for something is wonderful but the hard part is in disciplining yourself to not only maintain it but improve on it. Nothing is ever ‘easy’ when you want to do it well. I find writing a review hard for a book I have read. Trying to convey my thoughts and the feelings I experienced is a struggle. Yes, I would agree with the ‘envy’ comment. I always seem to think of a good comeback on a stupid comment like after the fact!

    1. Discipline is a big part of accomplishing anything and that is never easy! Totally agree with you! Thanks Carole!

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