On Building Resilience.

Talking about lessons from my sister, resilience and Orange fruit drink🍹

This is not a long one, beloved❤️

2020 has been a hell of a year and there's no sugar coating it. Personally if I were to tell the tale of this year - at least this first half - it’ll be themed ‘loss’. There's been so many losses this year; of people, friendships, opportunities and yeah, even money. At some point, it felt like I just couldn't catch a break. And I’m certain i’m not the only one who felt that way. But look at me now, skrrrr! I mean, I’m not over it all, or healed or whatever endpoint/destination word that might pop in your head especially as there’ll always be one hiccup or gbas gbos around the corner but there's been so many pockets of happiness.

Bright days, lazy evenings spent teasing my sisters, conniving or dancing with them; video calls with friend; and the occasional credit alerts yunno😉

Being home this period is one more thing to be grateful for, although I’m currently at a friend’s place for a long weekend getaway, lol. Anyways, I have been learning a lot of things about my family this period, and one thing about my immediate younger sister is her dislike for pessimism. She's not an overly optimistic, happy-go-lucky person but she's always checking us whenever we imagine bad scenarios or dwell too much on negative outcomes. Even my parents have been at the receiving end of her legendary eye-roll. Add to the fact that she’s got thick lashes, it’s definitely really something to avoid.

She is probably the most well-adjusted teenager I know, and I have been learning from her attitudes lowkey. One reason why I was up reading articles on resilience at some point this week.

Premium Shalaye.

In the earlier period of the lock-down with all the social media challenges going on, I put a certain question up on my WhatsApp status as a challenge. I cannot recollect the exact question, but it had something to do with how my contacts perceived me. I got an influx of kindness, dedicated, clown, all totally expected, but the one I did not see coming was a friend who described me as resilient. I was not feeling the least bit resilient at that point plus I had just told my counselor I think I needed to build my resilience muscles so I was really surprised. We later had a short chat which made me remember certain storms I’ve weathered and triumphed. So maybe I really am resilient after all. Which brings us to lesson number one: Resilience is something you realize you have after the fact. There is no test for resilience, or a way of accurately predicting how you react after a setback or a loss, so it is often a matter of ‘been there, done that’

Resilience is often defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficult life events, bouncing back and thriving despite life’s downturns.

While I’m focused on the individualistic perspective, resilience is a trait that is often found - and deliberately cultivated - in successful companies, football clubs and even nations. It is a very important determinant for success so much that Dean Becker, the president and CEO of Adaptiv Learning Systems, a company that develops and delivers programs about resilience training, says: “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”

A good thing I discovered is, you are not just born with resilience, it can be learned. While it is safe to say genetics contribute to resilience as certain theories claim, studies have shown that it can be learned. In fact, there are claims that unresilient people easily develop resiliency skills than those with head starts due to genetics. Reading the stories of Viktor E. Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor; Admiral Jim Stockdale who was tortured in Vietnam for eight years; and even right here at home, the history of Biafra and the Igbos; it is safe to say this trait can be learned and mastered.

In order to build up your resilience muscles, here are tips you should definitely try:

Build your connections and prioritize relationships: Human beings are communal beings hence we thrive best when we are members of a supportive community. While it is easy to isolate when hit with traumatic events, resilient people are able to accept love and support from people who care about them. Having a good support system/ interpersonal relationships has been said to be one of the greatest contributors to mental health, hence it is important to build your relationships.

Finding purpose: In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl says finding a life purpose and immersing himself imagining the fulfillment of that purpose helped him get through the long, painful days in Auschwitz. This concept - Logotherapy - is being used in psychotherapy up until now.

Being proactive and moving toward your goals: It is important you develop realistic goals and do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward the things you want to accomplish. This helps you in keeping things in perspective, building a fairly regular routine that you can depend on, and also strengthens your discipline muscles. These are all things that prove useful in the event of adversity, putting you in the seat of control in an aspect of your life at least.

This list is not exhaustive, and there are additional things I’d like to tell you about regarding resilience, but I wouldn't want to lengthen this mail than necessary. However, three characteristics of resilient individuals I've learnt, is that they possess a devoted acceptance of reality; a deep belief fed by strongly held values that life is meaningful; and an unexplainable ability to improvise. Cultivate this and you're well on the path, beloved.

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The Gist.

(I finally finally went for my glasses🤓, and yes, i take pictures in the street😂)

It's sort of hard trying to remember what I've been up to this past couple weeks. However, on reading, yass I've finished reading Aké: The years of childhood and I anchored a discussion in my book club about it. I started re-reading Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, but it’s still not very much my pace, phew. My book club’s read for the month is The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu, and I'm hoping to read that later this week.

I immensely enjoyed this beautiful essay as well as this. You should check them out, maybe.

On writing, well, I just got word back on an article I submitted to an organisation. Fingers crossed, it gets published. I'm currently working on a story too, pray for me, lol. I had a one-on-one discussion with Ope Adedeji, The Managing Editor of Zikoko, on building a career as a writer and Editor. I might distill out part of our conversation and share if you're interested in that kinda thing.

Presently, I'm putting my feet up and sipping 5Alive Pulpy Orange Drink, and hoping you enjoy this newsletter😘

Love,

Maryam

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PS: There's no tweet to share in this episode as I’ve uninstalled twitter the second time this month. Let's see how long this hiatus last before I go crawling back😩