We went camping for 3 wonderful days. Our eight year old returns with a graze on her face, both palms of her hands and knees, a cut on her foot, a burn on her hand, many bruises and several loads of washing after getting wet in a freezing creek unintentionally on more than one occasion. And along with those comes a catalogue of stories, her stories.

A lot of people will try to sell you lines about what resilience is and how it is cultivated. They are inspired by justifying their own choices to connect hap-hazardous dots that suffocate any guilt before it has a chance to surface.

When you bring up bullying, they’ll tell you that figuring out a situation is unsafe yet continuing to put yourself into that circumstance is building resilience. Not in those words of course but the message remains the same; when you erode your self worth enough that you’ll tolerate mistreatment, that’s resilience.

When a person expresses deep, raw (and valid) emotion after misfortune, their resilience is questioned. Resilience becomes those who are detached from feeling. Those who suffer in stoic silence, those who pretend they are okay no matter what. Those who have been conditioned to believe their emotions are unacceptable, unwanted, a burden.

Enforced, external “resilience” is a farce. It is a measure of convenience; how little can you need me?

The resilience I observe instead is the balancing of your fears and your desires. It’s the measure of what you are willing to risk to achieve your goal. It’s your own barometer. You do not have to accept mistreatment or not accept your feelings to be resilient.

It is an eight year old falling off a wagon down the hill and feeling the weight of that pain and disappointment. It is them assessing for themselves the merit of trying again.

And it doesn’t depend on the conclusion of those thoughts.

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