Resiliency has been such a popular topic in recent years – especially during the pandemic, but I’ve started to see some push back on the subject. Not from brands and business leaders, they still love talking about it, but regular people on social media.
I’ve noticed that brands and leaders tend to gloss over a crucial thing that makes being resilient much easier (and less exhausting) for some people than it is for others.
Resiliency and privilege
It’s not as difficult to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again if you have a secure roof over your head, happy family life and enough money to have fun.
If you know that, should something go wrong, your old room at your parent’s place is always there for you, things become a lot less fraught.
Some of the most resilient people have had difficult childhoods and are people who don’t have a security net to fall back on. Others are people in low paid or frontline jobs who have no option but to continue to keep going.
But because most of them will never be in a position to be celebrated or held up as an example of success, their resiliency is often ignored (or worse, praised as an alternative to, you know, paying them a decent wage *cough* clap for the carers *cough*).
People who struggle with mental and physical wellness also have to be resilient. It comes with the territory. But, again, when they are recognised for it, it can come off as condescending (mainly because it usually takes the form of a pat on the head and a “you’re so brave!”).
Resiliency is hard work
While I understand the value and importance of resiliency, it’s not a fun attribute for most people.
Being resilient is as essential as breathing.
So, when they see someone who clearly has a lot of privilege being praised and rewarded for their resiliency – when they’ve lived a life of security that made resiliency easy (and sometimes optional) – it’s harder to relate to that person or brand.
Resiliency is a great skill to have, but the most resilient are those people who’ve had to be. It’s not a trend for them – it’s an exhausting essential.
Our capacity to be resilient isn’t infinite, and so we have coping mechanisms. For some, it might be an annual holiday abroad. For others, it could be meditation, meeting with friends or gaming. Sometimes people develop unhealthy habits or addictions as they look for a way to escape the need to always be okay enough to function.
All this is to say that, when we talk about resiliency, we need to recognise the role that privilege plays in our perception of it. Sometimes society is so keen on focusing on the attractive “my resiliency helped me achieve amazing results!” side of life that it ignores the everyday trudge that resiliency is for most people.