An Open Letter to “The Easy Way”

Dear “Easy Way”,

You already know all of this, but somehow it feels better to say it out loud.

You call my name, every day, multiple times a day.

I used to think, how inclusive and kind you are, to think of me so often!

You reach out and ask me to come along with you, you tell me that you’ll protect me from danger, and hardships. You’ll keep me from discomfort and growing pains. You’ll put band-aids on my scraped feelings, and give me aspirin for my offenses. You shield me from confrontation, and offer me simple ways to avoid and ignore my problems.

When I choose to go another way, you come beside me and offer me a hand. You patiently remind me that you can show me a different path, a simpler one, one with more people on it.

But something in me strives, and pushes and grinds on this other, more difficult path. I don’t really know why, but it does. I stay there a while.

You give me some space. But the moment you see me collapse in exhaustion, and find me at the bottom of a pit with bruises and bumps and a look of defeat, you wrap your arms around me and you ask me why I allow myself to be bloodied through the thorns and the thickets of the “other” path.

You point and show me a few steps away where there is a bright, comfortable, well traveled path waiting for me.

Sometimes, when I am really weak, I listen to you.

I take your hand and I mindlessly follow you onto this well-traveled path. There is a cool breeze that accompanies the warm sun.

There are cheering crowds, and all the pleasantries I could possibly imagine. Immediately I am welcomed by all. There is someone to offer me a ride on the bandwagon, someone else to offer me my favorite food, and another that gives me cool water to drink.

I am enamored by it all, and truly wonder why I ever stepped foot off this path. This path full of support, encouragement, comfort and others who are just like me. I feel that strange feeling again, but this time I push it down and ignore it. Little good that did me last time.

I relish in all of this goodness, this ease and simplicity.

I tell you I feel bad about something I said, but you tell me it wasn’t my fault.

I tell you that I really wanted to accomplish something, but you remind me of all the reasons I never could, and that I made the right choice quitting on it.

I tell you something doesn’t feel right, and something calls to me from the “other” path, but you tell me not to listen to those voices. You say that they don’t have my best interests at heart. They only want to hurt me, but you want to see me happy.

Somehow I’m not entirely sure that this path will make me happy. Something seems to be missing.

But then, up ahead I see it. No one else is looking up, because they are all wrapped up in this pleasant, simple life. They are dancing and singing and celebrating.

They don’t see the danger that is coming.

We are just moments away from reaching the realization that was our potential.

Potential. The possibilities that have been stored up inside of us. Our gifts, talents, staying dormant inside, useless and dying while we fill our bellies with glasses of wine and piles of ice cream.

The sign in the distance says “Graveyard for Potential”.

I wonder how many are buried there. I wonder what sort of potential I had in me that would remain undiscovered, unused, unshared.

Suddenly I am sick. I think I have figured it out, that thing that calls to me from the other path.

I look over at you, Easy Way, and you can see the fear in my eyes.

I am on the verge of a big decision and you know it. You know that if I choose you, Easy Way, that I will stay with you forever. My potential will be buried with all the rest and I cannot leave. But if I leave, I am gone forever. I will be choosing the path less traveled, the path unknown. You will have lost one more.

Before I can think of anything else you quickly rush over to comfort me, to remind me that this is the better choice. You tell me to ignore the Graveyard for Potential, and say there is not much potential to be buried anyway. You tell me I should continue enjoying my life with my friends and all the wonderful things around me.

But something just isn’t right.

Something is unsettling.

I hear it now, almost audibly within myself, “You were made for more than this.”

With a lump in my throat and not another moment’s thought, I hop off the wagon and without a single look over my shoulder I run back to the other path.

I can feel the weather has drastically changed, just a few steps over. I can see the storms in the distance, the darkness, the uncertainty, the loneliness, but somehow it feels right almost immediately.

I have never been more ready for what is up ahead.

I realized that just maybe, uncomfortable on this path now will lead to comfort in knowing I reached my potential later… or at least that I had tried. I know that I would rather find out than not try at all.

I knew for certain that the comfort of The Easy Way led to certain discomfort knowing that I would have to lay to rest my life’s potential.

I look up to read the sign. What is the name of this path, anyway?

“The Hard Way”.

In small print below, it says this:
“The hard way is the way less traveled. It is full of sharp edges and dark corners. It is growing pains, discomfort, heart break, hard lessons, and raw truth. It is accompanied with criticism, disbelief and gossip from others.
You will be drained, and sucked dry. You will have to intentionally find ways to fill yourself back up, because on “The Hard way” no one will do it for you.

You will pass others on The Hard way, though very few. And when you meet them, get to know them. They, like you, are on this lonely path. They will believe in you and encourage you and you must do the same to them.

It will hurt you and it will beat you, but if you can make it to the end, you will reach your potential. You will see what you’re made of. You will grow and learn and evolve and be strengthened.
You will find out the purpose for which you have been created.

You will hear the loud voices and music and parties calling to you from The Easy Way. When you are feeling at your absolute lowest, wondering how you can go on, someone you know well from The Easy Way will call to you, and offer you exactly what you need to feel better in that instant.

If you choose to take it, you will be choosing instant gratitude over lifelong fulfillment. The moment of sweetness will be replaced with a lifetime of emptiness.
When you ignore the voices and press on, you will be rewarded. Not now, but soon.

WARNING: The Easy Way is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She calls to you because she knows that the longer she can keep you on the easy path, the less likely you will ever be to return to The Hard Way and live out your purpose. Her goal is to cause you to drift through this life, unaware of all that you have missed out on for yourself, and for the world.”

You see, Easy Way, I’m on to you now.

I see you now for what you truly are. Behind the beautiful colors and irresistible fragrances, you are rotting away, hopelessly, and looking to drag us down with you.

You exist, and nothing more. You try to motivate us only enough that we continue to drift along, without any real hope or expectation of the future.

You tell us we should be embarrassed and ashamed of our gifts, our talents. You tell us we should ignore them and that we are being selfish and prideful for thinking we should share them with the world.

“Who cares about your love of writing and speaking? You have nothing new or worthwhile to say!” You whisper to the blogger/speaker.

“Why would anyone want to follow you? You make too many mistakes!” You sneer at the budding leader.

“You are not smart or patient enough to raise those children well.” You call out to the young mother.

“HA! Just like I thought. You failed again. Why keep trying?” You remind the growing entrepreneur.

There is no growth, no chances, nothing brave, nothing bold, nothing kind, nothing good on The Easy Way.

There is drifting. There is aimlessness. There is existing. There is taking up space.

Simply because you are there, we look for you. We cry out, “There MUST be an easier way!” only because there is. Little do many of us know that it is The Easy Way that leads to regret, death and destruction.

The Hard Way leads to fulfillment, success and life.

So today, and every day forward, I will choose The Hard Way.

I will try to not even look towards you when you call. I was at a crossroads, but I have made my decision.

I have grown to love the challenges, the discomfort, the problems. With each one I am offered an opportunity to learn and to grow. On The Easy Way I was given excuses, avoidance and victim status.

The Hard Way has shaped me, instructed me and led me. The Easy Way has sheltered me, hid me, and devalued me.

Although it has been the hardest and most lonely journey in many ways, it has also been the most rewarding, fulfilling and supportive.

I had almost settled for a lesser life with you, Easy Way.

But The Hard Way reminds me that there is someone who believes in me, someone that has not left me alone, and that desires even more than I do to see my potential achieved. Not for me, but as a gift that I can leave with the world. He is greater than anything IN this world and now at my highest high and my lowest low it is His voice that I seek, not yours.

On the easy way I would have been laid to rest, right there along with my potential. Once I had realized it, it would have been too late.

So this is goodbye, Easy Way, forever. I am done with you, and I am moving on. I want you to know that I’ll be taking as many people as I can with me. I will be telling them about you.

You cannot manipulate us anymore. We are ALL on to you.

For “The Easy Way” is truly the hard way, and “The Hard Way” truly is the better way.

So despite all, I am thankful for you. Had I not experienced those years of drifting through my life, I would not know how empty it really is to simply exist. In a sense, you have given me a reason to look for purpose, and sparked my desire to keep pressing on towards a better future.

I will love with intention, I will dig deeper and I will push harder.

It is because of the temptation of an easier way that I keep moving forward and accept each new challenge with more strength and bravery than before.

Thank you, Easy Way. May you rest in peace.

Truly never yours,


Emily Long

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