Today, we had a long talk with one of our children about coasting. This child has been coasting through school. He's a smart kid, and he really doesn't need to work hard to get by. The problem is that he has refused to challenge himself, so he really hasn't been growing much. This conversation turned to my own experience with coasting.
I was a coaster. I was smart. Everything came easy to me. Not once in my school career was anything hard for me. It was incredibly boring, but what I learned was that I didn't need to work at things. I never learned to study. I never learned to work hard. I was never challenged. My brain was able to handle multiple things at once without flinching.
And then I got sick. It happened gradually. I thought it was just age. I started forgetting little things. Slowly, but surely, my brain stopped functioning the right way. Most adults don't have to memorize things once they're out of school. I certainly didn't before I started taking tae kwon do. Oh, but tae kwon do required me to memorize all sorts of things. I didn't have any problem at first. But about a year into it, I accepted that there was something wrong. I could not memorize the things I was supposed to.
This was new for me. This, in addition to all the other little things convinced me that something was wrong. You can read more about my sickness here. But this post isn't about that. It is about doing hard things.
I tested for my red belt in November of 2009. I was set to test for my black belt in August of 2010. But, I didn't test for my next stripe (I had three to get before testing for my black belt) until November of 2010. It was hard. I was incredibly panicky that I wouldn't be able to remember what I needed to know. Each time I tested, I had to work hard, harder than I've ever worked to remember that information.
Then, black belt testing came. I almost didn't test for my black belt. That is how scared I was. I worked and worked to memorize my knowledge, but still I just couldn't get it. This was stuff I'd known just a year before, yet somehow, my brain would not retain it. Suddenly, I had a new appreciation for people whose brains don't work the way my did. Suddenly, I knew what it was like to struggle, and I didn't like it.
Everything used to be easy. I want that back, but I will always be thankful for what I have learned during this time. Things don't have to be easy. They just have to worthwhile.