Two weekends ago, #ZamFam travelled to Siavonga for our GHC Quarter 1 Workshop. The purpose of this weekend was to reflect on the successes and challenges of our first 3 months, and the central theme was building resilience.
If I may create an elaborate metaphor, building resilience is akin to learning choreography. Unless you happen to be an amazing free-stylist, which I definitely am not, you cannot just get up on stage and bust out dazzling choreography without foresight and practice. In the same vain, one cannot just be resilient when tragedy hits. Instead, they have to practice their steps to resilience to build muscle memory, so that when the tough times really pour, they will be ready.
Personally, I have been in much need of resilience. Each day is a conglomeration of loneliness, workplace challenges, programmatic obstacles, resentment, and a rollercoaster of oscillating emotions. After leaving Siavonga, I promised myself to live more positively. So here is my 7-step choreography to dancing my way into resilience:
- Build a Support System: This was the easiest step for me to master in my dance because I am fortunate to have the most amazing family, friends, & ZamFam who have been by my side every step of the way. Whether I need unconditional love or space or a person to vent to, my community is there for me. Never be afraid to ask for what you need because your support system is more than willing to help!
- Create a Mantra: My dear friend and mentor, Kate Kryder, sent me beautiful
mediation stones before I left for Zambia and helped me create a mantra. When I feel discouraged or just need a general pick-me-up, I repeat my mantra to replenish my energy – On the inhale, I am lovable. On the exhale, I am capable.
- Mindfulness: When I am in a frustrating or desolate situation, I stop thinking about where I should be or where I could be and, instead, embrace where I am. This has definitely been one step that I am fumbling to master. Wholeheartedly embracing the present is difficult, but taking a deep breath and accepting where I am helps me remain calm and keeps me from spiraling into negative thoughts.
- Gratefulness: Despite the many downfalls, I still have a lot to be grateful for. I am living abroad learning about global health – my dream. In addition, I am immersed in a network of brilliant young leaders. I have the ability to travel and to explore Southern Africa! I have an amazing co-fellow that keeps me laughing, and I have my youth, my health, and so much more. Taking the time to remind myself of all of the positives makes tackling the negatives one step easier.
- Self-Care: Building resiliency is hard, very hard. This dance is not an easy one to learn! At the end of the day, I have to remember to take care of myself in face of all of the challenges whether that means going to sleep earlier, taking time to reflect alone, or treating myself to a yummy snack. For me, the best form of self-care this year has been joining a gym down the street!
- Set Goals: Although the need for resilience might mean setbacks, setting goals can help keep one on track. I have had to reset my own expectations multiple times, but continuing to set goals and timelines helps me stay focused and motivated to keep working towards what I care about.
- Do Not Give Up on Yourself: The most important move to learn – do not give up on yourself. During challenging times it can be so easy to blame yourself for everything that is going wrong. But more often than not, these things are happening to you, not because of you. Be kind and forgiving to yourself.
Every dance is different, but every dance is worth practicing. Feel free to share the steps to your resilience choreography because I am always looking to add on to mine!