One of my favourite quotes has to be from the writer Donald Miller.
He said: “Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, sit down with myself and explain that things were going to be okay, that everybody loses ground sometimes and it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the way life works. This is hard to understand in the moment. You get to thinking about the girl who rejected you, the job you got fired from, the test you failed, and you lose sight of the big picture — the fact that life has a beautiful way of remaking itself every few weeks.”
To me, the key to resiliency — the ability to recover quickly from hardships — is understanding the incredible fluidity of life and teaching yourself to adapt to it rather than fight against it.
While resiliency can be learned, I have found that some people are better at it because of what they had to endure in their childhood. I came from an unsafe and unpredictable upbringing which forced me to become as adaptable as possible at a young age. Having an abusive dad, brother and uncles presented itself with numerous challenges I had to deal with internally, and from early on I learned that life was never going to be very stable or kind at times. It made me strong, capable and resilient.
My best friend Anja, who is involved in facilitating and teaching mental health to university students, once said to me that resiliency means you can look back on your past with compassion and toward your future with hope. While my past has been difficult, it is the substance which has built me into a person I am proud to be most days, and therefore the substance for which I am grateful for. People often see me as a strong woman, and although I have found that it does get easier to be resilient, it unfortunately does not get any less painful. That pain, however, is where resilience starts.
What Miller said was true: we do get heavy-hearted about the ways in which life knocks us down, and feeling that pain is okay. But how do you bounce back from it quickly? By understanding and accepting that life is always in a constant state of flux. You could be upset about the job you lost and find an even better one in a month. You could be have your heart broken by someone but connect deeply with a new person the next week. And on a day where everything goes wrong, the very next day you will probably wake up and forget what had happened the day before.
When something doesn’t pan out the way you so badly wanted it to, it’s important to keep in mind two things: the remarkable and wonderful ways in which life surprises you, and the inner strength with which you carry inside of you to look at challenges in the face, dig your feet in and embrace what it has to teach you. Basically, it’s the ability to say to yourself: “I am strong. And this is temporary.” That, to me, is resilience.
Photo via Her Aesthetic