Ok, so one of the buzz words I have heard and used a lot is Resilience…good word…great word even.
In fact, I find myself using it or referring to it when talking to my students (high school teens) or my own kids (a range of ages) on many occasion. The word is trendy, maybe because the influx of overly sensitive and, I dare say, even ‘wimpy’ young people. The ‘Snow-Flake’ generation are known to crack, give up and then ask for a week off work and counselling sessions whenever they fall on hard times.
The word Resilience is one of those characteristics that all employers hope for and teachers only dream of.
Each week I find myself advising one of my older kids on how to deal with friend issues, mistakes, misunderstandings, mean teenage girls etc…and one of my favourite golden nuggets of counsel is resilience! I am heard many times reminding them that they cannot change or control what others do or how they act, they can only control how they respond and get up, dust off and move forward…hopefully with limited resentment or bitterness.
Resilience has been my ‘go to character trait’ for some time now.
However, recently I had a number of beautiful moments where I was able to take my own advice or taste my own medicine per say…and it was bitter.
We are talking about your classic rejection, unkind aggressive behaviour that most likely stems from massive insecurity…nothing crazy. But, and hears the thing, I am not used to people on a whole not liking me or not being pleased with me or to not have the ability to win them over or crack them up! (Yes…I hear myself, little white middle class princess…I know.) I do have to accept that there are probably many people out there in my life that I annoy the living crap out of…they are just too kind to ever show it, and for that I am grateful.
One thing that I am seeing more and more in my thirty’s is how much a people-pleaser I am, in spite the ‘I don’t’ care what people think’ and ‘who the crap cares’ attitude I perfected so beautifully all through my teens and early twenties.
In fact, even then, I DID care what people thought of me…I wanted them to think I was the strong chick who ‘didn’t care what people think!’! The irony is not missed.
A couple of years ago my sweet and very wise husband said something that resonated with me since. I had a woman in my life that really seemed to not like me…at all…not even a little. I racked my brain to think if I could have done anything that would have upset or hurt her, I came up with nothing, I barely knew her and had only ever been nice and tried to include her. I would try to think of thoughtful questions and I would be left with one word answers and award silences… it was like pulling teeth!
I would also observe her talking away, openly smiling, to other women/mutual friends of ours. I didn’t get it…and tried even harder.
Adam finally pointed out to me one day two important things. One was that I was chasing this poor girl determined that she like me…I needed to get over myself…her life will be just fine without the affection and entertainment of Beth Watson in it. And two, yes she didn’t like me…but that was ok. In fact, he made the valid observation of: pretty much everything that I stand for, enjoy doing, get excited about, personality, way I dress, look, sound…my overall demeanour probably annoyed the living crap out of her. It’s ok that everyone doesn’t likes me. I never want to hurt people to the point I am on their black list or anything, but I need to accept that I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea!
So when I have, most recently in the last couple of months, come across reactions, people, behaviour, my own mistakes or even circumstances out of my control that aren’t nice, I have found myself standing there with the magical word ‘Resilience’ ringing in my head, but struggling all the same.
In fact, it’s hard. Yet I throw the word around as a pearl of wisdom like it has power to fix.
So I have had to be resilient, to get back up, to shake it off, admit and apologise, hope for forgiveness, to learn and change direction, even to accept that I will not be awesome at everything or loved by all…no matter what I do.
Resilience is a great thing and needed by all. It makes you smarter, stronger and wiser. It helps you see clearly once the dust settles and the pain subsides…but it won’t make the first pain any easier. It hurts, but it’s about remembering, as quickly as you can, that truth that can help you get back in the game faster, with more empathy and less bitterness.
Resilience is key but can only really be learned the hard way. When I am talking to a dishearten student struggling to improve or a teary eyed daughter who has been knocked, I am grateful for those small reminders of what it takes to be resilient and the journey there.