college, lifestyle
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Notes on Resilience

I have experienced so much privilege. Yes, I am a woman, yes I am Black; but, it would be dishonest of me not to acknowledge the many blessings that I’ve been gifted. For much of my existence, things came relatively easily for me. I grew up in a two-parent, upper middle class home. I do not have any physical or mental disabilities. I never had to worry about basic necessities. I grew up in a safe neighborhood and college was my only option.  For these reasons, I can sight few instances where I was able to truly work my resilience muscle.

The Situation

Currently, grad school feels like my cross. During these few months, I often found myself forgetting my privilege and blessings while wallowing in self-pity. I have considered leaving more than once (which admittedly is a sign of privilege), I constantly question my intelligence, and I cry a lot more than usual.

I recently heard this story about a type of bamboo in china that grows in a five year growth cycle. The first four years of its life it seems as if nothing is happening.

Imagine preparing the soil, choosing the perfect spot, planting your seeds, watering it and waiting. In fact, you wait an entire year and nothing appears. But, you don’t get discouraged. You patiently water and protect your future plant.

Another year passes and still, nothing. You remain persistent and decide not to give up, so you keep on watering. You water, check the soil, start talking to the ground, maybe even sing some type of growing song you read about on the internet. It is now year three. Still, nothing. Should you give up? You heard that it might take a while to see the fruits of your labor, so you keep watering, wishing, hoping, and praying to see something. Another year passes. No tree.

As you begin year number five, you are determined to give this year your all—if at the end nothing happens, you will walk away. So you enter this year with the same passion as you started with. You water, you wait, you sing, and wait some more. You wait, water, and sing. Then, it happens! There it is, something sticking out of the dirt. The next day you return to your sprout and WOW it has really grown! In fact, you continue to come back each day for a little over a month. Finally, the Chinese Bamboo tree stops growing—and it stands 80 feet tall! 80 feet in just over a month! Well, not exactly. It took five years of resilience and stick-to-itiveness.

The lesson is so simple. If you had given up for even the shortest period of time, there would be no tree. It took almost impossible persistence. The Bamboo tree only stands 80 feet tall because you believed in it and you persisted. This is resilience.

Assessment of My Resilience

While there are bursts within this experience where it all feels so overwhelming.  I remind myself, if this is it: struggling to get my grades up while attending a prestigious university—If this is “adversity”, I’ve hit the jackpot. I, unlike so many people, get to try and (sometimes) fail inside of a controlled bubble.

I’ve seen what reliance looks like through my parents, who’ve lived drastically different experiences in comparison to my own. I’ve watched them turn nothing into something and I’m hoping that rubbed off on me.

As it stands, I am not very resilient. I am the shadow of resilience. However, if there was one trait I admire most, it is this one. Every time I get a “No” or a “Not right now” I feel my resilience muscle begin to work. Even though it hurts and I’d much rather get a “Yes”, it is sort of exciting to look back and see that I made it. So, I’ll continue watering, singing, praying, and waiting for that breakthrough.

No, I am not fighting to survive a war, starvation, or a traumatic event…but these are my tiny victories. This is my bamboo.


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