I'm looking for a metaphor or analogy for experiencing more and more difficulties (after getting more familiar with a certain teaching or art). I think I have seen a few in the past but I can't think of them right now.

5 Answers 5


It sounds like you have opened a can of worms.


For every head you cut off, another two will grow back (Referencing the Hydra myth)

Related to the above, less violent:

For each question you answer/problem you solve, two more come/pop up.


A well-known saying refers to the situation where beginners think something is easy, but those at an intermediate stage are overwhelmed. It's often said as:

The more you learn, the less you know.


The more you know, the more you know you don't know.

Both versions allude to the discovery of an insurmountable amount left to learn.

  • Well said, I can relate.
    – Hackworth
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 13:36
  • +1 I particularly like the second version. I think it's really a more explicit restatement of what the Delphic Oracle meant by saying Socrates was the wisest man alive. Socrates himself having said "I know nothing", which made him wiser than anyone else because at least he knew enough to recognise the extent of his own ignorance. Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 15:37

One relevant expression is

One step forward, two steps back

although it implies that any small progress made is counterproductive, and you are moving backwards.

As suggested in the comment on this answer by Rikon, a more accurate expressiong might be

Two steps forward, one step back.

  • 1
    +1 To add to this, "Two steps forward, one step back" would imply some progress is being made, just not without difficulty at every step.
    – Rikon
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 12:44

There's "snowballing". Once the snowball gets rolling it gets larger and larger.

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