I read a recent article about declining college student resilience.
And of course I thought about it in relation to me and my recent whining about running not going so great. People would probably describe me as very resilient, I seem to never give up. Depending on the task, or project, I do almost never give up. On the other hand I have quit at numerous things throughout my life, baseball, basketball, soccer, trumpet, acting (although you never really know with that one…), mountain guiding, and others. While I have stuck with some things far longer than many of my peers, like running, engineering, a job in Iowa, mountain climbing, being a vegan for a short time or going to church every Sunday. Yet I don’t really think of any of those persistent qualities as being resilient, yet they are. How many times have I thought that my running career was over? 2004 after high school, 2007 when I had a sesamoid bone problem, 2008 when I got plantar fasciitis, 2010 when I got a stress fracture, 2012 when I tendonitis, 2015 how many times? And it’s not over, I’m just being dramatic. At the same time, suffering on my own is hard!
I climb a lot of mountains solo, six 14ers in winter and four in summer in Colorado, just in the last four years. I like the challenge, I like the independence, and I like the seriousness, and moving at my own speed. There are always set backs, that’s why in seven winter 14er attempts I have only one summit. It’s an interesting little test, I drive out to Colorado alone, stay with a friend a night or two, maybe stay in my van a night or two, and then stay in hotels alone. The whole time basically burning with motivation to get outside and climb. I go out and get thrashed by the weather and then try again the next day.
Maybe there is a difference in time frames? A few hours setback is easier than a few weeks. Thinking of my college education, it was really hard! Yet I never really lost my motivation to be there. Running is the same, sure it has low points, but it’s not like I actually stop running. I suppose this article is really just exploring my own ups and downs. I will say part of it is community. Having a group of people to help comfort me when things are not going so well. In fact, I think lack of community is a big reason for the rise in loss of resilience. Younger people feel alone, because we don’t talk to people, we sit staring at our cell phones. We don’t all go to church together. We don’t have community dances anymore. Our parents don't always live in the same house. Our society is fragmented. Every additional division leaves more people alone.
What can I do? Build a community? Simply be a part of existing communities? Blog my sorrows? I don’t know. Am I going to Everest next year? I don't know. No one really knows the future, and despite how frustrating every single little setback seems, I feel that ultimately these trials are for my benefit. Still that doesn't make them any easier.