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Is It Actually A Compliment?

Katie doesn’t have any experience with this topic—that’s why she’s opening up to all of you in hopes of learning more!

These women are the reason I am strong-willed and are my most constant heroes.

These women are the reason I am strong-willed and are my most constant heroes.

You may be familiar with Tracie Washington and her quote, "Stop calling me resilient. Because every time you say, 'Oh, they're resilient,' it means you can do something else to me. I am not resilient."

Let's think about that for a minute. Most of the time, when we say people are resilient, we mean it to be a positive compliment. A compliment meaning that person is strong-willed - a fighter, even. I have had many people describe me as resilient. I've always taken it as a compliment, and still do. But let's go back to the moment before they were "resilient." What happened in their life that caused them to have to rise above and fight?

There are many different ways we can look at this. I understand Tracie Washington's reasonings for saying what she said and while I want to honor her story, I invite you think about another perspective to this quote. Here's a little about her story for you before we move on.

For me, I am thinking about the moments in my life where I have had to fight my way through something and have come out on the other side. That's when most people pride me for "sticking it out" and never giving up. But some of these situations should have never taken place to begin with. Some of these situations were wrong and I unfortunately stayed quiet and didn't speak up for myself. (Please know that I understand there might be situations out of our control where one has to fight through. I'm not invalidating that resiliency.)

When looking back on your own life, do you have times where you've been told you were resilient? Could you have prevented what made you resilient? There is a blurred line here between what is in our control and what is not. We can't always be in control of what is said or done to us. But do we stick up for ourselves in those moments? And then that creates another blurred line. Are we even mentally, emotionally, and physically able to stick up for ourselves? Timing and personal development/process is crucial.

I hesitate to share what I've just written. In no way do I want to come across as insensitive or ill-intentioned. I am posing these questions because I know I could have done more in my own life. There are times where I could have said no. And to be honest, the reasons vary as to why I didn't. Some of the occasions were more serious and I wasn't able to respond due to being frightened, confused, or quite frankly, young and naive. Other times I carried on as a way to prove something; that I was capable and could handle anything. Hindsight is 20/20 though and if you take anything from this article, let it be this: THERE IS NO AWARD FOR WHO CAN HANDLE THE MOST STUFF.

Now I'm changing lanes a little...

Tracie Washington said, 'it means you can do something else to me.' I keep getting hung up on that part. That adds a victimization quality to the word.

To my friends and family that have called me resilient, I don't want you thinking I'm taking offense or that I have felt victimized. That is not at all the case and like I said earlier, I still take the attribution as a compliment. But I am choosing to take the strong-willed component of the word as the compliment. A strong-willed person is described as 'determined to do as one wants even if the other people advise against it.' A resilient person is described as 'the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.'

A rubberband is resilient as it bounces back from being stretched too much. We shouldn't be congratulating each other for bouncing back like a rubberband as much as we should be making sure each other doesn't get stretched too thin in the first place.


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