The past decade has brought Americans a series of significant firsts: the first black president and the first woman to lead a national party. These achievements point to an ugly history of institutional racism and sexism — and are signs that we can outrun it. To do so, though, we have to embrace discomfort as a resource. Americans tend to avoid what makes them uneasy; this is a mistake. We have to look at our cultural limits and consider why we are apprehensive to breach them. Those who believe a woman cannot lead, for instance, might be responding to the unease one feels when expectations — in this case rooted in a legacy of misogyny — are out of sync with reality. Only by recognizing this fact can someone overcome its power. To apprehend discomfort as a matter of bias is to turn it into a vital lens, through which we can ensure that it does not determine our future.