In 1993 and 1994, a group who called themselves the Barbie Liberation Organization bought hundreds of Talking Teen Barbie and Talking G.I. Joe Dolls, swapped the circuit boards, added a tiny “Call the Media” sticker on the back under the clothes of the doll, repackaged them and secretly placed the boxes back on the shelves of the toy stores where they had been purchased. Unsuspecting gift buyers purchased the dolls and suddenly children in NYC and San Francisco were playing with Barbies that growled, “Vengeance is mine!” and “Eat lead Cobra!” while G.I. Joe was chirping “Let’s Go Shopping!” and “Will we EVER have enough clothes?”
The single phrase that set the group off, the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused the group to go to such extreme (and costly) lengths to protest gender stereotypes was spoken by Barbie in her sticky-sweet, slightly vacant voice: “Math is hard!” She uttered it not in an exasperated tone, not frustrated by her inability to figure out her calculus homework, not sympathizing with her classmates, but instead, she wore it like a badge of honor. “Oh well, math is hard. What can I do about that? Let’s go back to talking with boys.”
I often hear people say something like, “I’d lose 30 pounds, but it’s really hard,” or “I’d love to write every day but it’s hard to fit it in my schedule,” or “I hate my job but it’s too hard for me to get my resume together and figure out what I want to do.” These people are absolutely right. It is hard. Sometimes it’s really, really hard. It’s difficult to create time in our already overtaxed schedules to make room for our dreams and goals. It’s challenging to say no to all kinds of extraneous obligations. It can be almost impossible to eke out one last ounce of energy to spend on something personally important when the day has already sucked most of it right out of us.
Life is hard even when we don’t create space for our dreams. It’s hard to live an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s hard not to take steps towards our dreams, to feel like they are getting closer, even if it’s just a baby step every day. It’s hard to stay in a job we find non-stimulating or worse, soul-sucking when there is something else we’d desperately love to be doing.
So maybe we should just all agree that life is hard no matter what. At some point, we will need more time, we’ll have to say no to some obligations, we’ll have to chose broccoli instead cheesecake (not too often hopefully). We’ll always have to make choices that feel difficult in one way or another.
If this is true, if life truly is hard in some way no matter what direction we choose then it all boils down to one question:
“How am I choosing my life to be hard?”
As for me, I’m choosing to make my life hard by following my dreams, setting big goals and going after things that seem a little bit crazy to most folks. How about you?