I consider myself to be very resilient. No matter the task, I’ll figure out how to complete it through some mental strategy. Whether it was working the third shift at UPS as I made my way through college or working my way to the lifting platform, no challenge was too great to overcome.
But my resiliency pales in comparison to the most resilient person I know: my mother! At 92 years old, she has survived breaking both her right hip and, eight months later, her left hip. While she was in the hospital, she contracted COVID – and after all this, she continues to live independently in the house she’s lived for the past 50 years. Breaking a hip is near fatal for a person of an advanced age. A 2018 study showed one in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture. Older adults have a five to eight times higher risk of dying within the first three months of a hip fracture compared to those without a hip fracture. This increased risk of death remains for almost 10 years.
So what makes my mother so tough? How did she become so resilient? It wasn’t because she takes or took cold showers in the morning, nor did it come from competing in tough competitions or listening to a mindset podcast. Unlike me, she wasn’t raised with the creature comforts of Western civilization; her resiliency came from her upbringing through the war in a territory that changed rule as often as the seasons passed. She then came to this country as a 17-year-old, not knowing the language and possessing limited skills. She initially would go from one factory job to the next as employment at times was scarce. She would eventually find a steady company to work for and become employed there for years. During all of it, she never complained. I look back now and think, “Yeah, those were tough times, but it couldn’t compare to … ‘We must leave because an army is marching through; we will call you back when all is clear.’”
I think my mother’s resilience is hardwired because she had no choice. I, on the other hand, could have quit my UPS job or stopped going to school. I’m not sure which is harder – that which is forced upon you or that which you choose. Either way, once you know quitting isn’t an option, finishing seems (dare I say) easy.