If you’ve had to bust your behind, burn the midnight oil, and shed blood, sweat, and tears to get where you are today, you could say you’ve endured significant travail. In other words, back-breakingly hard mental exertion or physical labor.
Travail comes to us from a sinister Latin word: trepalium, meaning “instrument of torture.” The closest English word is probably toil, though travail means you’re not just exerting monumental effort but suffering as you do so. If your life has been hard-knock enough to be the stuff of old blues songs or Shakespearean tragedies, you’ve had your share of travails. In French, incidentally, travail simply means work. The Spanish trabajo (work) is closely related.