At work, we often discuss how to help the families we work with to build resilience. They face a wide range of struggles as they navigate life in a new country, complete with new systems and governments and cultural norms.
I think the more I work to build resilience in others, the more I am painfully aware of my own lack of resilience.
I am easily sidetracked. Easily deterred. Easily defeated.
A few years ago, I graduated from an excellent university. I moved out to Chicago, volunteered a year, and then was hired full-time. Though I had taken all the exams and done all the required work, I never officially obtained my teaching certificate. Mostly because it involved a bit of paperwork. My father had even paid for it. But it required trying to remember passwords to old accounts and tracking down my transcript and sending in a cover letter. To any normal adult, this should not seem daunting. To me, it seemed insurmountable. Particularly because I was not planning to use my certificate and thus had little interest in jumping through the hoops.
I graduated six years ago this month. And just today I finally mailed in my transcript in the last and final step of obtaining my teaching certificate. I can see my father's smile from half-a-country away.
Truth is, I give up at the first sign of difficulty. Sometimes it's the perfectionist in me. The part of me that says something worth doing is worth doing well. And if I think for just a moment that I might not do it well, I just give up. Sometimes nothing is better than something if that something is going to be painfully awful.
But most often, and in this case, it's the slacker in me. (Which, fyi, Webster defines as "an especially educated young person who is antimaterialistic, purposeless, apathetic, and usually works in a dead-end job." Harsh, Webster, harsh.) The slacker that would prefer a Scrubs marathon over spending time navigating the Mass DOE website or Chicago's no-help-ever system of starting a small business. Or researching for a grant. Or keeping the house clean.
While I love my job and my life outside of my job, many days, life is a struggle. To keep myself motivated. To make my checklists. To think through my goals. To push myself forward. And my victories come when I am able to stay on task or get myself one step closer to where I want to be.
So often when I write, I start with a question or a problem and as I write the answer I thought I was searching for suddenly becomes clear. Like it was there the whole time, waiting to be freed, my words unlocking each little chain.
Not this time.
Instead I'm left with questions. Will it always be this way? A struggle to keep myself motivated? A fight to move forward? And if I continue, winning some and inevitably losing more, is it enough to simply say that I made progress, no matter how small?
Someone must have the answers.