I was asked in an interview…
Where do you get your resilience from?
That’s a wonderful question.
I think people are generally of the belief that resilience comes from just being strong or unshakable or something. I’m sure we can find these traits in many resilient people. And I’m sure many resilient people would like us to believe that’s all it is. But, I think it’s a far more complex question than a couple adjectives can easily answer. And when we understand the complexity of it, we can begin to understand that we all have resiliency in us. Sometimes life gifts it to us.
For me, I can attest that it started with circumstances I had no choice in. I was born two months premature in 1966. I came out and stopped breathing. They threw me in an incubator for 18 days to keep me alive. So, I came out fighting. I imagine it was all survival instincts. Nobody knows what babies are thinking. But also, probably as a result of being under developed, my genetic predispositions were all laid bare. I had allergic asthma from the start. After I got home, according to my family (I’m the youngest, so they like to remind me), I would scream all night trying to breath. Our father left when I was 8 months old and our mom remarried when I was two. I was adopted by our new dad. All of these are things were out of my control and later led to my having resilience. And perhaps created a stronger instinct.
My actual recollections start at about age 4, and I can remember dealing with asthma attacks. When you’re that young, you don’t so much understand the life and death element of things. It’s scary. But you just know you want to breathe. So you fight to do so. Keep in mind, we didn’t have any real medications for asthma at the time. You took cough syrup and sat in a steamed-up bathroom to try and loosen any congestion. Another factor that taught me to not give up easily.
Getting towards age 9, I didn’t like to sit still. I wanted to play like other kids. I took up soccer and ran a mile a day. I played outside among the weeds and trees that made me ill. Often this would put me in the hospital. By this time, they could shoot me with epinephrine and hook me up to an oxygen tank. It helped, but it was depressing. I felt less than the other kids. So I was that much more driven to get out and…