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I'm Positive!

ResilienceAwesome Moments
Artwork by: Caleb Ramirez

One day, while browsing random quotes on the internet, I came across a very familiar unattributed saying that reads: “You don’t understand the real value of what you have until it’s gone.”

Yet, from very early on, I have been taught to be thankful for whatever I have, and to understand that I am not entitled to privileges but just happen to be lucky enough to be given them. Therefore, I didn’t agree with this quote and decided that a more truthful version would probably be: “You always know exactly what you have. You just never think that you’ll lose it.” Looking back, I realize that this modified quote helped me understand loss as a problem, and this understanding helped me cope with loss by being resilient.

Since I am a middle school student, almost half my day is spent at school. Naturally, I am exposed to philosophical words that I don’t always understand. Most words, like resilience and empathy, are quite casually tossed around until we attempt to learn their true meanings.

I came to understand the concept of resilience last spring, when my class was given the opportunity to help conduct a national-level award function for kids alongside an official organising committee. We had been psyched for this period of the year for a long time. As our list of major tasks got longer, we began to form committees to focus on separate categories. One of the first committees to be formed was the Core Team, which was to interact with the official organizing team on a daily basis, receive tasks, send updates on our progress, and draft official emails. Because the responsibility appealed to me, I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of the Core Team, and somehow, I was selected.

There never seemed to be a moment to spare, with all the things to be communicated and done, and I was actually having fun writing emails and circulating tasks. It was great while it lasted, but then I started making mistakes.

The initial euphoria of getting onto the Core Team went to my head, and I started ignoring duties and the urgency of certain assignments. Soon I had to step down and hand over all my responsibilities to someone else, because every person in the Core Team was expected to contribute and do their share. I was crushed. It seemed as if the ground had been yanked out from underneath my feet, and I couldn’t breathe. Yet I decided that I wouldn’t show any forms of weakness to anyone, and instead buried myself in work.

I somehow managed to get through the award function. Every time I watched the Core Team rushing around, I would quickly move away to avoid a breakdown. In all the rush, the event was quickly over, and my hastily built mental dam broke, releasing all the pent up negativity and anger. I managed to put up a façade at school, but in my idle time, it would all come crashing back.

Luckily, a teacher and mentor at school understood what I needed. By talking to me, she helped me see my current responsibilities and abilities. She told me stories of her various experiences, and recounted incidents when she saw me living up to my potential. Over a discussion that lasted about an hour, the real meaning of resilience—the binding thread of all my teacher’s stories and the point where, with some effort, everything started getting better—slowly dawned on me.

I realized resilience is the effort I and people all around me put in to make our circumstances less problematic and more favorable. I learned the importance of living happily in the present by moving on from the problems of the past. Suddenly, everywhere I looked, be it newspapers or the internet, I saw examples of people displaying resilience.

Now that I understood resilience to be the ability to bounce back after a problem, I actively began to look for places to exhibit some. These opportunities could be anything, ranging from leading a group discussion to taking charge of a class project. It wasn’t very difficult to fall into the same rhythm, but the fear of messing up again always lurked just in the shadows. However, as hard as it was, it also felt rather empowering to be actively exhibiting resilience. I gradually moved back up by taking on responsibilities and doing more than what was expected. When I felt more sure of my progress and potential, I knew I had come far, and this time around, I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes.

The experience taught me that anything can be lost and found again, as long as we have a firm net to fall back on. The support of my family and the gentle nudges of my teachers helped me find my rhythm again. Part of my belief in my ability to bounce back stemmed from my friends and family’s belief in me, so their support was essential to my journey.

Now I understand what resilience really is. Resilience is the ability to return to what is normal, and to bounce back to a steady and habitual rhythm after any difficulty or obstruction. Resilience is what has gotten humanity this far, and resilience is what will take us further ahead, to a point where problems are welcomed for their excitement, all because each of us will believe in our ability to bounce back from complications.

Resilience is why we believe that we can solve any problem. Every time we fall, we can brush off our knees and start running again, only this time more sure of ourselves. Failure, or "falling down," is rather important while attempting to win, because the reason we fail is identified, and the next time we try, the chink in our armor has become a strength. Failure becomes a milestone, and it ultimately gives us the knowledge we need to succeed. Eventually, everyone is bound to reach the finish, wait, and then start running again towards the next line in sight.

Looking back, I understand that I did value the opportunity to be on the Core Team, but because I thought I couldn’t and wouldn’t lose it, it gradually and then all in a flash slipped out of my grasp. My experience taught me the true meaning of sayings about appreciation and loss like the one I found on the internet. We all value what we have and don’t think we’ll lose it, but sometime in the future we will. Instead of looking towards the future with apprehension, my experience taught me to believe in my ability to be resilient and, any time I fall, to brush off any doubts and move ahead confidently.

Raavee Tripathi is a seventh grader at Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India. She enjoys dancing, reading dystopian books, debating, playing sports, and just surfing the internet. Her ambitions do change, but her current goal seems to be re-reading the Harry Potter series for the 15th time.

Caleb Ramirez is a 17-year-old student at Secaucus High School in New Jersey.

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