We all hate 2020. It’s been a long and devastating year for all of us. There were so many new stories that followed one after another. Even when it seemed like things couldn’t get worse, they did. We’ve lost jobs, hobbies, and loved ones we can’t get back.
For me, Covid was just one awful piece of my life.
I went through yet another breakup. I quit what was supposed to be a dream job. I broke off contact with toxic people. I moved all my belongings twice. I lost a friend to suicide. And honestly? I cried more this year than I have since I was a teenager.
Basically, 2020 has been the worst.
It was supposed to be the hopeful start of a new decade. Instead, it was full of loneliness and suffering. However, it has also been full of resilience. In fact, I’d like to propose we look at 2020 as a year we overcame and celebrate the hard work it took to do that. First, let me explain more about resilience.
What is Resilience?
According to Psychology, Resilience is our ability to cope during a crisis and come back stronger. Instead of letting adversity and challenges tear us down, we choose to face them, to heal, and to continue our course.
Some research suggests resilience has a genetic predisposition. The good news is that many of us are resilient in some capacity. Yes, some of us are naturally better at it than others, but I believe it can be learned as well. As with everything, genetics and environmental factors are always interacting in some capacity. The layman’s term for this is Nature vs Nurture. Psychologists have often taken a stance on which affects our development more. That said, these days most agree that it’s a mix of both.
If you don’t think of yourself as resilient, well I’d like to argue you are more resilient than you think. Winnie the Pooh phrased it better than me though.
“You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.”~Winnie the Pooh
And if you don’t believe that, well let’s look at ways you can improve your resilience by learning from others.
What Builds Resilience?
There are a lot of traits associated with people who are highly resilient. Here are a few ways to build your own resilience. And don’t worry, I’ll elaborate on each one with research.
Here are 4 traits that build resilience:
- Internal Locus of Control
- High Rates of Optimism
- Social Support
- Strong Moral Compass
Internal Locus of Control
The Locus of Control refers to the degree to which you believe you are in control of a situation. If you think all your problems are out of your control it would be external. If you see yourself as still in control it would be considered internal. Resilient people have an internal sense of control and that helps them perform better. This makes sense since feeling in control reduces anxiety and that makes adapting to a challenge easier.
High Rates of Optimism
Optimism is another trait that has some basis in our genes, and I’m sure I fall into this pool. My family has gone through some difficult times, but we have always been happy. Being more optimistic leads to more success when faced with challenges, as seen in this study on university students.
Resilient people also look for emotional support in times of trouble. In this paper, they provide evidence that seeking social support leads to better psychological hardiness. A close social network is a key factor in reducing depression and coping with adversity.
Strong Moral Compass
Having a clear moral compass and internal belief system is another way to increase your resilience. In this study, having a strong moral compass and ethics was found in resilient people as well. This makes sense since decision-making would be easier if you follow your own beliefs on what is right and wrong.
My Own Resilience
I’ve always been a resilient person. When I was 11, I ended up getting lost on a ski hill with a couple of friends. Somehow, I kept my head on straight until someone saved us. In my last job as a 911 operator, I was able to remain calm while helping people in their worst moments. Whether it was something as simple as an aggressive driver or as serious as a robbery, I was there to console them and send help.
I have experienced dozens of challenges in my life, but I have faced them every time and come out more capable than I was before.
It’s hard to be resilient when everything around you is crumbling. Even though I’m resilient, a small part of me is afraid of failing every day. Still, I keep going. There’s always a future to look forward to and happy moments to hold on to. Even if it’s just a sunrise or a new ice cream flavour at my favourite ice cream shop.
So what were my happy moments in 2020?
Well, I spent most of the year single which allowed me to focus on my own joys. I taught myself how to play the ukulele. I rediscovered my love of video games. I adopted a corn snake named Lexicon. I got my first ever tattoo. I finally started freelance writing. And lastly, I made new friends on the internet and joined a writing group of badass women who inspire me.
Instead of looking back at 2020 as a shitstorm, we should look back at it as a challenge we overcame. We might be watching a dumpster fire, but we can still bring marshmallows and eat s’mores while we watch as it burns.
Here’s to accepting this year for all its adversity. We faced many challenges as a society, but because of them we also developed a stronger sense of resilience.
This article was first published on Medium.