find (something) out the hard way

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find (something) out the hard way

To learn or discover something through personal experience, especially that which is difficult, painful, or unpleasant. Can also be phrased as "find out about something the hard way." Starting your own business is really tough. I had to find that out the hard way. Everyone will tell you that becoming a parent is challenging, but you never really know what that means until you find out about it the hard way.
See also: find, hard, out, way