Hard is Normal

This message may seem a little tough-ish. Harsh. Strong. Direct. But I promise you, it is meant to encourage.


I have been blessed to lead a large community of women physicians on social media for about two years. I have learned a lot from this amazing group. I see their remarkable accomplishments and I hear their dreams. And I see also see their struggles and their setbacks.


If you are a woman who wishes to do something, stop waiting for someone to give you permission.


People are busy. They have their own agendas. And sadly, often women are overlooked.


Stop waiting for everyone to like you so you can advance.


They won’t.


Stop waiting for someone to see all of your accomplishments and say, “Wow! You are the woman for the job! Here’s a raise and promotion and a new role!”


They won’t.


Stop doing jobs that you have done for years because they are comfortable, wishing someone would notice and give you the job you want.


They won’t.


Stop expecting that pursuing your calling will be easy and smooth sailing and you will hear yes more than no.


You won’t.


Stop expecting everyone, including your mentors, to clearly understand, see and agree with your career choices.


They won’t.


Stop expecting other women to support you simply because they are women.


They won’t.


Stop thinking every step in your career will be positive and free of setbacks, hardships or mistakes that will humble you.


It won’t.


The lesson is this:


Hard is normal. 


My friend, Laurie Baedke, a leadership expert and friend of mine, says these exact words to me often. When I start to focus on the looming mountain in front of me, Laurie will say "Sash, hard is normal."


Once you accept this, it becomes much easier to move forward.


Not everyone will like you, your calling, or your idea. In fact, some will try to blatantly stop you from success.


Once you understand this, you become free to expect dejection, rejection, and even attacks, and prepare yourself for it.


Women have been doing hard things for centuries. We’ve been raising people, feeding people, cultivating crops, and healing our communities for years. It is what we do.


In the last 100+ years, our work has evolved in different ways as we moved into the traditional workforce, in lesser roles, under men. The challenges of running our homes and struggling to find a foothold in industry are often the difficult hurdles to balance. That said, we have always been caregivers and we know how to deliver. But our roles have changed. Our ability to lead has become something we have to fight for.


I bet if you asked the most industrious woman 500 or 100 years ago if she had struggles, she would reply yes. I bet if you asked her if she had to wait for someone to give her permission to pursue her passion or her calling, she would have smiled and laughed at that question. I’m guessing women who worked in fields and built their homes and ran their homesteads while the men were away faced challenges we cannot imagine. We can learn a lot from the history of strong women who rallied together and figured out a way to survive the Great Depression, wars, and the start of the evolution of the modern woman.


We have work to do.  We aren’t going to advance by asking permission or expecting easy.


Hard is normal. Expect it and move forward. Stop waiting for the path to be easy.


The struggle is real. But it is what we were born for, what we’ve grown to do, what our predecessors fought for. Be a woman… do the hard things. 


"Once you find the path, light it for others." -- Dr. Julie Silver, Harvard Medical School