A short story. A long time ago (Mar 1986), in a housing office in Wood Green North London, I completely broke down and cried like I hadn’t ever cried before or since.
I was 12 years old. We had just been kicked out of temporary accommodation and found ourselves homeless on the streets of Finsbury Park. My mum was able to hail a cab and with our few belongings in bags, got us to said housing office.
It was a Saturday. I thought about my friends and how their Saturday’s perhaps were going. I felt cheated and that what was happening to us was unfair! What my mother, my 2 sisters and me were going through didn’t add up. I couldn’t understand it. Being thrown out of the Majestic Hotel made no sense to me! For roughly 20 minutes I was inconsolable. Nothing like this had ever happened to us. A sense of being lost in familiarity!
The idea of being a man and not buckling under the weight of being evicted I didn’t care about. The tears came. The tears hot and unstoppable. The tears were about the shame I felt, as much as they were about a frustrated internal pain that I hadn’t known before.
I since have gone on to achieve a number of significant personal milestones. I think the largest was getting married to the amazing Dr CW and raising a family of my own.
Professionally – my latest lecturing experience at UEL was another achievement. I presented a passionate argument about incarceration with 3rd year psychology students.. We (they and I) discussed the demerits of prison and the criminal justice system in the UK.
I mention the achievement because at the age of 12 nothing like a career in counselling or presenting at a University had ever crossed my mind. I had designs that I was going to be an Artist.
What does this have to do with resilience? Being able to not only withstand difficult life experiences when they hit, but when knocked on your ass, to get back up! Rising time and again is almost a dare to the universe. You can make it through an incredibly hard time. To look beyond into a different future and ride out this period of discomfort.
Is as much an idea as it is a continuous practice. We all have areas that we can be resilient about. Other words to describe resilience can include Determination, Grit, Toughness or Stubbornness. You may have heard the phrase, get knocked down 7 times, get up 8. The idea is resiliency, in and of itself.
It’s the getting back up part and being willing capable and curious enough to go again. A perfect film that describes a person’s resilience is the 2020 Netflix release of Uncorked. The tale of a young African American Sommelier (Wine Taster) who takes on the challenge to become what in his heart of hearts he longs to be. A knowledgeable wine connoisseur who can choose wine for guests at a restaurant or hotel and describe what the guests are going to enjoy in their glass.
I mentioned him earlier. George the poet from Have You Heard George’s Podcast, is another person who sums up the experience of a person who is resilient.
George the Poet, has experienced personal tragedy and turmoil. The difficulties jet propel him to go in another direction with his skills in music and words. I can see his poetry becoming lessons for anyone with ears to hear and a mind that is willing to go deeper, to see.
Perhaps secondary schools and colleges will unpack George’s many ideas and commentaries about social mobility and being able to pivot. Another Poet/Rapper whose words and music have been made in to school lessons is Kendrick Lamar. To be resilient then is not only for our ‘nows’. But for what follows after. Stick around. You’ll see…
How to Fail with Elizabeth Day and Otegha Uwagba
Science of Success Matt Bodnar with Jim Kwik
Wanna Be Podcast Imrie with Emilie Wapnick Multipotentialite
Pivot – Book Jenny Blake
Cover photo by Lou Batier on Unsplash
Inlay photo by James Baldwin on Unsplash
Intro, Substance, Resistance, Persistence, Insistence