I know, it sounds like a compliment, doesn’t it? You’re so resilient! Your resilience is inspiring! You came back so resiliently. You know what? Maybe I don’t want to be resilient, maybe I want to sleep. Or at least, not be reminded of what a fucking struggle it’s taken to get to this place.
Re·sil·ience – /rəˈzilyəns/
Noun 1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
Of course it’s better than being called weak but after all being resilient isn’t something we necessarily choose. If we display resilience, it’s always in response to something. It’s a reactive characteristic. Ultimately we don’t want to be resilient, we want to be if we need to be, which isn’t the same as other values we might choose for ourselves, such as kindness and empathy.
In some ways it’s forced upon us: you sink or you swim; you find your resilience or… is there an or? I never found it.
Dr Ginsburg, child paediatrician and human development expert, proposes that there are 7 integral and interrelated components that make up being resilient – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. I’m not about to dive into all of those but ultimately it’s believed each of those attributes are required to exhibit resilience. On their own, one would argue none of those are bad qualities to have, and I’m not saying resilience is either. It’s just that… well, it’s fucking exhausting.
I’ve been hearing it a lot, interchanged with “strong”, in relation to my decision to progress with (and share details of) freezing my eggs. And I do take it in the way that it’s intended, which I believe is as a compliment. But sometimes I wonder if it diminishes to some extent the anguish that I’m experiencing – you’re so resilient, you’ll be fine! Like no, actually I’m barely clinging onto my emotional equilibrium and it’s taking me every ounce of my sanity not to choose to be in a darkened, padded room right now to have a private, but much needed, meltdown.
Does that sound like resilience??? I don’t know…. When we’re called resilient is it in fact the facade we put on that’s being commented on, because it sure doesn’t feel all that heroic in my brain!
So can we be “less resilient”? It sounds counterintuitive, I know. I guess we can try to choose situations and people, and implement boundaries that don’t lead us to need to be resilient. Can we instead choose paths that don’t ask us to be anything other than soft, and kind, and loving. Why do we so often have to resort to being resilient, strong, steadfast? I fucking hate it. Leave me alone. I want to sleep.
I know that life just do be like that sometimes, as they say, and I get it we can’t control everything that happens to us. But surely at some point the need for resilience pauses, to give way the ability to just live, without enduring, without struggle, without traumatic experiences? Can we experience a world where resilience isn’t so readily required because the world isn’t so cruel? Doesn’t that sound idyllic…
I may have lost you with that last overly simplistic hope for the world, but it’s worth a thought. And maybe a lot of it just comes down to good old kindness. Can we all just be a little kinder to each other, and ourselves, so that resilience isn’t so often required? Can we make life easier for others in some / any way? So we can maybe save someone the fatigue that comes with having to be resilient.
After all, is it truly a compliment to call someone resilient if it’s an attribute forced on us at a time when little else was available to us?