By Maya Smith, MSW
Hello JPK Blog Readers! I am so excited to let you know about a special summer 3-part series on resilience written by guest blogger Maya Smith. Maya has just completed her master’s in social work and is one of my mentees. She shares with us her reflections on living and leading as a young woman. She titles this series, “Metamorphosis: Resilience, Surrender, Bloom.” Check it out, she has some great insights to share!
“for a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must become completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out & everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction” ~ Cynthia Occelli.
Throughout our lifetime, we will face insurmountable circumstances which will test our faith and challenge our character. Sometimes the future will seem bleak, and we may even lose hope. In those moments, we are pushed to our breaking point and our true character is revealed. It is then,we are made aware of our true power. This is where growth occurs. This stage of growth is grueling, uncomfortable, but transformative. Oftentimes, we become overwhelmed by our circumstances and lose sight of our purpose. In life, we need uncomfortable conditions to propel us forward. Without it, we remain stagnant, which is counterproductive. We should continuously be growing, evolving, and progressing.
My lesson in Resilience.
In my experience, I have faced obstacles which have left me discouraged and hopeless. I tend to resist the challenges of life, but they’re inevitable. Personal and academic setbacks have caused me to doubt my own competence. Hardship and loss tested my emotional capacity and wavered my faith. A key part of my journey is resilience. In my lowest moments, I felt that God had left me. Through it all, God unleashed my resilience. Resilience has allowed me to turn my obstacles into opportunities for growth. Although circumstances were unfavorable, my will to persevere had to be stronger.
My undergraduate and graduate journey was the greatest point of self-discovery. I learned to fuel my passion, pour into myself, and trust my intuition. This journey was the start of my transformation. It took some time for me to adjust to college life. Like many others, it was the first time I was on my own and away from home. Living in a new state, surrounded by new faces was scary at first.
As an introvert, I am very reserved and tend to stay to myself. However, in order to take advantage of this experience, I had to step outside of my comfort zone to assimilate which was very uncomfortable. I volunteered for various organizations which allowed me to interact with other young women and contribute to a greater cause. I utilized the wisdom and tools which were instilled in me during my formative years.
How I Developed my Resilient Mindset.
My professors and peers were a great resource as I honed my craft and continued on my path to success. As I recount this transformative period of my life, I discovered key lessons which shaped my individuality and formed my resilience. Through these lessons, I developed a Resilient Mindset.
A Resilient Mindset is an approach to living and leading that enables you to press through difficulties and come out stronger. Resilience is about recovering from setbacks and growing from each comeback. I’ll say more about a Resilient Mindset and how you can cultivate it, but first I want to share a little more of my journey that has set the context for my resilient mindset.
I Surrounded Myself with People That Helped Me Blossom.
I am very intuitive and utilize discernment as I continue to develop my core group of friends. The prerequisite for spending time with anyone is that they nourish and inspire you. The people you spend the most time with will have a significant impact on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. As you look at your core group of friends, ask yourself these questions: Are these people nurturing or hindering your growth? Are they cultivating an environment for you to fully bloom? Are they inspiring you to grow, elevate, and aim for your goals? It’s important to be mindful of those within your inner circle. As you develop a core group of genuine individuals, they should help you bloom like a beautiful flower in a garden.
I Came To Realize Everything I Need is Already Within Me.
Previously, I searched externally to meet my needs. I realized that it only left my cup empty. Although I was unaware of it, I already had the tools, answers, and love within myself. Even more so, I had to believe it. Your “gut” or intuition is a powerful tool which provides you with the knowledge to handle circumstances that will arise. You can choose to seek externally or you can choose to believe that everything you need is already inside of you. Trust yourself.
I Learned to Unleash my Full Power.
Previously, I downplayed my success and played it small. I even avoided aiming for high goals for fear of failure. However, playing it small does not benefit anyone. In fact, I do a disservice to myself. Playing it small means our actions are motivated by fear rather than faith. Over time, I’ve learned to take up space in every room that I enter. With patience and confidence, I’ve learned to tap into my potential and step into my full power.
In retrospect, I had more strength than I was aware of. It was the strenuous periods which developed my endurance. They shaped me into the God-fearing, resilient, passionate, brilliant, Black woman I am today. I have a duty to myself to persist amid adversity in order to fulfill God’s purpose for my life.
At the end of every test, is a testimony. In order to have a testimony, you must first undergo a test. It is up to us to determine how we will handle the test. Tests and trials are necessary components of life. They shape your individuality. When you come out of the storm, you will not be the same person that walked into it. That’s the point. We are meant to change, adapt, transform, and advance throughout life. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to it. That’s where our power is.
So, now, let me share six tips for developing a Resilient Mindset:
Change is an inevitable, but necessary component of life. Embracing change allows surrender to the natural progression of life rather than becoming frustrated with life’s circumstances. By embracing change, you can adapt and become more flexible. Flexibility allows you to be better equipped to respond to life’s ever-changing circumstances. Change is a way to utilize difficult moments for opportunities to build resilience.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
In life, we constantly discover new information about ourselves. Throughout this process, we identify our strengths and opportunities for growth. By dedicating time to learn ourselves, we become self-aware and gain a strong sense of purpose. During the challenging periods of life, we learn valuable lessons which reveal something about ourselves. Afterward, we are more equipped to handle the next lesson.
Discover your purpose.
Discovering your purpose is a daunting but fulfilling journey. It provides a sense of pride and accomplishment to fuel your passion. Some examples include becoming involved in your community, engaging in meaningful activities, or dedicating yourself to a notable cause. A sense of purpose gives life meaning, direction, and inspiration to leave your mark on the world.
Recognize & develop your strengths.
Inside all of us resides strengths and skills which add value to the world. Identifying and enhancing these strengths provide resilience when faced with tumultuous circumstances. Once you identify your strengths, you gain clarity on your purpose. As you enhance your strengths, you become more confident to unleash your power and step into your purpose.
Establish and nurture a strong support system.
A strong support system is a crucial aspect to life. Developing genuine relationships with others will provide encouragement during times of crisis. Surrounding ourselves with trustworthy people who support, nurture and hold us accountable is impactful. Having a strong support system allows us to persevere amid our challenges and not face obstacles alone.
You cannot pour from an empty cup. As you meet the demands of life, numerous personal, professional, and academic obligations will arise which require your time and energy. If your cup is empty, how can you be of service to others? As the airlines instruct passengers to put their own oxygen masks on before helping others, we should also sustain our own well-being before tending to the needs of others. Some beneficial ways to nurture yourself include exercise, rest, meditation, and incorporating a healthy diet. Set aside time to replenish your cup so that you are refreshed, rejuvenated, and revived.
-Maya L. Smith, MSW
Continue to follow this 3-part series on resilience at https://www.drjeanneporterking.com/blog