I read a joke once. It said, “If you’re ready to give up, it’s okay. Just give up. You have tried.” I think it was a mockery of motivational speakers who tell us to fight till the end. However, sometimes you need to give up to either regroup or to start an entirely different fight. It’s not compulsory to win at everything. Losing is a lesson in itself.

I thought about that a few days ago while struggling with a stomach bug. I was ill, I was having nightmares and I was just too tired to do anything. I was also angry with God and asked him to stop making promises. 

I take it for granted that God speaks to me regularly, and that is unfair to many who are struggling. And so, I admit that to a large extent, my resilience comes from my faith. No matter what I’m going through, I usually tell myself, “Subomi, just get to the place of prayer and you will find clarity.”

Sometimes, God talks about the future I should be planning for.

Other times, he gives instructions on what I should be doing now. But, by Saturday, I was done with future assurances. I wanted specific instructions and results. I wanted action; implementation. Let’s me even start seeing the results of all he’s said before sef. 

By morning, I knew I wasn’t going to give up, even though I really wanted to. I traced it to decades of resilience training and the fear of failure. In short, “we die here”. 

I tweeted about that word, resilience recently with regards to Gen Z. Some took it as victim-blaming. Others were offended. But it’s inescapable and I will explain with the following analogy.

Tony and his aged mum are in a mall when they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a terrorist attack. An armed man is waving a gun around and there’s chaos everywhere.

Tony has four options:

1. Run and save himself.
2. Actively engage by trying to disarm the terrorist. This is because he’s concerned his mum won’t be able to save herself on her own.
3. Freeze and melt in a puddle of inevitability and despair.
4. Pretend it’s all a dream.

In this analogy, Tony is Generation Z and the Terrorist is wicked life – a dysfunctional country, unemployment, a breaking economy, no light, #EndSARS, COVID-19, attention deficit & desensitization from obsessive technology use, failed parenting, abusive relationships. The list is endless.

The call for resilience is not an attempt to blame Tony for the Terrorist’s actions. It simply says his duty is to first save himself and then actively engage to save others if he chooses to do so. While we must demonstrate empathy & humanity, we must also recognize that Tony has everything to lose. The terrorist has none. Without resilience, Tony will freeze. He will keep stating the obvious, that there is in fact a Terrorist on the prowl who’s out to get him. He will flail about in a puddle of self-pity and finger pointing and then he will die, because no one is coming to save him.

The fourth option – pretending it’s a dream – is escapism: through drugs, sports betting, pornography and self-harm, among other things.

Building resilience is not by happenstance.

It doesn’t come by just sucking things up. That’s an unhelpful stereotype. And yes, previous generations got it through upbringing which wasn’t perfect in any way. (I acknowledge the imperfection and all the abuse that came with it.) Rather, resilience can come from deliberate training. It can also come from a mentor, from therapy and finally from self-learning through books. A helpful resource is Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman.

You must build resilience. The world is not going to be normal for a few years at least. COVID-19 has done too much damage. Nigeria even has a longer path to normalcy because of its entrenched issues. So, build internal fortitude now. You need energy to tackle life and to slay dragons. You need faith that you can overcome. You need to stop the endless cycle of thinking things are going to go wrong. 

Finally, in my tweets I said this – I strongly believe every generation is hardcoded with the solutions to its own problems. It’s why Gen Z must lead.

For more, please read Poverty is not a Fruit of the Spirit.

Resilience can come from deliberate training. It can also come from a mentor, from therapy and finally from self-learning through books. Click To Tweet

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