From the professor’s desk:

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of “resilience.” How are we able to get up and keep going, under the most crushing of circumstances? Is it because we have no choice? Or do we have inner strength we’re not aware of, most of the time?

Favorite refrigerator magnet:

I think resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, is like a muscle; it develops through exercise – not of the physical variety, but of the psyche. Most of us pay lip service to the idea that there’s no joy without sorrow (no rainbow without the storm), but given the choice, we’d rather not go through the storm, thank you very much. We wouldn’t go there voluntarily.

The most frustrating thing about 2020 – for most of us – was how our choices became so limited. We couldn’t go where we wanted, when we wanted. We couldn’t interact with friends and family in the ways that we longed for. My students and I couldn’t come together in the classroom for a shared learning experience. In the beginning, I strained against these bonds. I was angry and frustrated. I longed to run, and my feet were bolted to the ground.

A funny thing happens when we stop fighting, stop resisting. We realize we can keep going, we can get through all the “nevers” – “I could never spend a holiday without my family, I could never spend weeks indoors without going anywhere, I could never …” We had no choice but to endure the “nevers.” And the strength, the endurance, is found in the silence, in the going within.

We got to know ourselves, and each other, in new ways this past year. It’s been tough, and it’s still going to be tough for a while. But you’re stronger than you knew, stronger than you were, stronger than you ever thought you could be when living in the mindset of “I could never.” You could. You did. And you can do it again if you have to.

This isn’t about trusting others. It’s about trusting your own strength, and its source.