There is no bouncing back. There is only moving through.
“Life’s reality is that we cannot bounce back…What’s done cannot be undone…There is no bouncing back. There is only moving through.” -Eric Greitens, Resilience
I want to start this post by acknowledging that the author of the above quote has turned out to be quite a piece of garbage. That said, his book Resilience still contains a lot of wisdom. I’m not one to throw out all of the good that someone bad has written.
We often thing of resilience as the ability to bounce back, but as the author of the book mentioned above points out, there is no such thing as bouncing back. You don’t go back to the way things were after facing difficult times. You aren’t the same person and you never will be. The way through life is forward. You can’t go back.
I think of this when it comes to losing a loved one. The pain we first feel after the loss does subside, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still feel it. I lost my dad almost five years ago and I’m not “back to normal.” I never will be, and I accept that. I can’t go back to who I was before I lost my dad because I’m a different person without him. I’m not the same me.
Resilience isn’t the ability to bounce back, it’s the ability to move forward. Not everyone does this, however. Some stay stuck, searching for some way to go back to the way things were. They don’t take the lessons from what happened and move forward with them, maturing and growing from it. Resilient people aren’t cold and unemotional, they just realize that it helps nothing to remain stuck in pursuit of something that can’t be obtained. They carry the pain with them as they move forward with life.
The mantra during the COVID pandemic has been “kids are resilient,” but I worry about some of the damage that’s been done by living life the way it’s been lived the last couple of years. We say “kids are resilient. They’ll bounce back.” But there is no bouncing back. There is only moving through. As resilient as kids may be, they are going to need our guidance to move through something that even we haven’t encountered before.
Resilience is a virtue. Those who can keep moving forward no matter what life throws at them are the exception and not the rule. Look around you at the people you know. You can instinctively tell who is the most resilient among them. If resilience isn’t a strength you possess, learn from those who exemplify it. Choose to be resilient. Move forward.