Why you should get started even if it’s hard.


On Sunday, I ran my first ever 10k race. That’s 6.2 miles for my fellow Americans. While I felt like I might pass out around mile four, I managed to reach the finish line with style.

It’s just the latest in a series of really, really hard things I have been doing with my life. I got a job as a web developer, even though my degree is in English. I started studying Japanese, and took (and passed) the three-hour N5 Japanese language competency exam. I decided to blog every day while I was in Japan—and I almost made it, too. I launched a new business inspired by my fandom, and though it’s recently had a major setback, I’m keeping it afloat.

All of this has been exhausting. My developer job is forcing me to learn quickly and I’ve grown enormously since I began, but personal growth is really hard. Even weekends are rough—right now, my brain hurts from my latest Japanese homework essay, plus I can’t feel my legs. I’m sure you can tell that I’ve been slipping as a writer, too. I haven’t been sticking with my blogging schedule as faithfully. I’ve cut back my Anime News Network weekly reviews to two shows instead of three. I haven’t blogged at Forbes since April.

Sometimes I fantasize about how easy it would be to just stop. Just let the blog lapse, stop turning in articles, turn in my notice at work, take a hiatus from Japanese, stay home and eat some donuts instead of run. But that’s when I think about the Month of Battlestar Galactica.

Let me take you back five years. John and I had just moved in together to a studio apartment that wasn’t big enough for both of us. I was working a 9 to 5 desk job that I didn’t love. But I kept it because we had just weathered the Great Recession, and I felt lucky to have anything. John was just starting his career at entry level, having to slowly work his way up. That first winter was awful. Bitterly cold but no snow, so we had to keep slogging to work. We were living in a cramped space with each other for the first time, so we stepped on each other’s toes a lot.

But there was one solitary highlight that February, and that was Battlestar Galactica. We’d come home from work, settle in front of the TV, and watch as many episodes as possible before falling asleep on the couch. Not to knock Battlestar Galactica or anything. It’s a gripping show. But I’ve never felt so empty as I did that month. Battlestar Galactica was a great escape, but eventually, I had to go back to my own, unfulfilling life.

It got better. The weather got warmer. We moved into a bigger apartment. John and I got really into eating healthy and working out, and actually spent time together not staring at a screen. I applied to the Daily Dot to write for a living, got the job, and put in my notice at work.

Of course it hasn’t all been perfect since then. I want to do all the things, put too much on my plate, and get stressed out. I picked a job and hobbies I’m not great at. It’s hard!

But then I remember what easy is like. Easy is sticking with a 9 to 5 you hate because you don’t think you deserve anything better. Easy is eating takeout and barely talking to your significant other, because cooking and relationships both take effort. Easy is running away to the fantasy world of Battlestar Galactica, and waking up each morning feeling empty.

I get it. I love keeping up with my weekly anime shows or marathoning an old gem. But I want to advise you (and remind myself) against getting too comfortable. All of the coolest things I’ve done this year have been outside of my comfort zone—crossing the finish line, solving a difficult programming bug without asking for help, reading manga in its original Japanese. Getting to the point where I could do these things sometimes sucked. But even if it’s not as fun or easy as watching a space opera, it’s real. It doesn’t disappear as soon as I turn off the TV.

What have you been putting off? Today’s a great day to take the first step.

Photo by Pete on Flickr