A big question
Why do some people seem to weather a storm or bounce back from a difficulty more easily than others?
A short story
On the drive from the airport to my Airbnb in Buenos Aires (this was in the before-times of course), I was practicing my Spanish in conversation with my taxi driver when he said to me: “wait… you don’t know anyone in Buenos Aires?”
“Is that a little crazy?” I asked him, with what I suspect was a reflexive self-conscious laugh.
“A little…” He wasn’t laughing.
That was Thursday. A quick message on a local Facebook page and I had an invite to dinner for Saturday with a small group of some of the loveliest people I could hope to meet. I hung out with these new friends for the next month, becoming accustomed to the both-cheeks-kiss greeting.
Now, here’s the thing: I am an introverted sort, I struggle with anxiety, and, to quote an ex-boyfriend, I can be “unsurprising.” I like routine. I’m a homebody. It takes me time to get to know people and feel comfortable around them.
So, as the song goes, you might ask yourself: well, how did I get here?
Two years prior to that taxi ride, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be in the middle of a solo trip of South America. I couldn’t have told you that I’d go hangliding in the shadow of the Julian Alps or that I’d tell stories on a stage in front of hundreds of people. One year after that taxi ride, I couldn’t have imagined I would be starting again in London from scratch or that I would be commissioned by a publisher to write two books.
No, these experiences that once seemed improbable for me all started just over three years ago, when my life as I knew it blew up.
A little idea
The details are different for everyone. For me, it was my partner of nearly eight years leaving me out of the blue. I lost my home and my stability overnight. Yet these events launched some of the most painful, inspiring, and defining times of my life so far.
Most of us will face something like that in our lives, whether on a large or small scale. Times when the future is uncertain. Times when a hole has been blown straight through our carefully laid plans. Times of great loss.
They say to write what you know. Well, I know how to start over. I know how to pick up the pieces and how to carry them with me when the only way out is through. I might even have an idea or two for how to bounce back better.
Through years of seeking, trial-and-error, decisions made, or events thrust upon me that redirected my path, I have had to develop a skill set that helps me adapt to change, take risks, and grow in order to build the life I want; skills that I draw on again and again, including to weather some of the tougher bits of this past year—the isolation, the uncertainty, the ongoing change.
The thing about life is that it’s rarely what you expect or what you plan for; this past year has taught us this on a monumentally collective scale. More than ever, we need ways to not only survive, but to thrive, no matter what life throws at us—because it will, make no mistake, throw shit at us that we’re not prepared for.
And that’s what this little letter will explore—that big question at the top. What does it take to be resilient? Can you learn it? Is it a skill or a personality trait?
Every Monday expect a key question related to these themes with, well, not so many easy answers, but rather bite-sized practical ideas and stories about how to move through the difficult stuff, and how to even grow stronger by it. These are tools, ideas, and skills for starting over, but they’re also the bedrock of the everyday well-lived life; expect topics to develop self-awareness, to strengthen your relationships, and to build a meaningful life.
So, what’s your biggest lesson from this past out-of-your-control year? Let me know in the comments!