I wrote this blog post for CLMB, an amazing initiative that helps young people focus on their careers, life skills, mental health and building their future – check out the rest of their work here! I’m grateful to have written for such an innovative organisation – it’s really early days but it’s already doing great things, and it’s something I wish I had as a school leaver, and even at uni. Let me know what you think!
That’s what I tell myself, through everything from workouts to tough situations in my job, to difficulties in relationships or just a long old commute!
Resilience is what gives people the mental strength to cope with stress and hardship. Some people seem naturally resilient, with a perma-positive attitude and endless ways to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their goals. But I think that anyone – even people who don’t believe themselves to be resilient naturally – can build on this skill.
I never really thought I was a ‘resilient’ person until my dad had a brain hemorrhage in 2014. Quick note – luckily, he’s absolutely fine now, he made a great recovery and we’re closer than ever. Yet, when this happened, my world was thrown upside down. I was 18 and on my gap year (sadly nowhere exotic – working in a pub in Kent!) and up until that point, had felt very little in the way of responsibility or life challenges. I suddenly felt like the world had thrust me into a 100mph lane with no seatbelt. I also realised, once I knew my dad was going to be in hospital for a while, that I had a choice. Now, I want to add that I’m fully aware that your mental health isn’t ‘a choice’. If it was, we’d all have half-full glasses and be bouncing-off-the-walls happy all the time! But in this instance I knew I could choose my actions, and how I reacted to the events that transpired. The first choice I had was to let sadness, anger and worry stop me in my tracks. The other choice (and the more difficult one, no doubt) was to feel those feelings, but use them as something to learn from and discover how best to cope.
So how do you work on being a more resilient person? One way you can do this is by allowing yourself to feel a whole spectrum of emotions, and recognising them when they arise. Don’t try and push them away – you’ll learn more about yourself in the process. Embracing change is another one – this can be hard, there’s no doubt about it, but even small things help. I like to write down all the ways something could go right, rather than go wrong. I think letting other
people into your life to support you also helps. “No man is an island” as the famous quote goes! Practising self-compassion is a BIG one, and something I’m definitely still working on too. I could write a whole separate blog post on this, but what I will say is that self-kindness is underrated.
COVID has also taught me a bit about resilience. More specifically, in job hunting/workplace/ professional aspects. I was lucky enough to not be furloughed, and in fact, work went completely the other way! I took on two other people’s jobs as well as my own and while it was a
learning experience, I will admit I felt completely out of my depth. Imposter syndrome crept in, and I was left questioning whether I was good enough to manage all this new responsibility. But I’ve realised now that the office hasn’t burnt down, our online events are still going on and actually, I’ve not been doing a bad job at all.
I’ve also been job hunting. I know, I know, WHY would you bother in this climate?! I want a new challenge, is the honest (and LinkedIn-appropriate) answer. To tell the truth, I think I have applied to between 250 and 300 jobs since about January. Happily, this week I was offered a new job! I’m over the moon and feel incredibly lucky, of course. But what I’ve learnt after all
those applications, all the “unfortunately, you’ve been unsuccessful on this occasion” emails, and even being flat out ignored a good number of times, is that you just have to keep going. You can’t give up if it’s something you really want. Sure, take a break for a few days, a week, even two. But you should always get back on the horse, no matter how daunting it might seem.
Being resilient, especially in a professional context, could open doors you never thought you’d see. It can offer opportunities that, had you given up and decided not to bother, you’d miss out on. Yet, by just carrying on, you’ll always have the potential to experience new and exciting things that come up in life. Resilience matters because it gives you the skills and mental strength to not only cope with, but recover from challenges. It’s something that will pick you up when you’re feeling your lowest, and allow you to learn from your experiences.
So, try to keep going. Even if you have to slow right down, that’s okay! Just don’t give up.