Yesterday I wrote about brokenness. Believe me, I feel loneliest and most tired when I am at a cold, dark train station in the evening. Just waiting. Today I was going to name my blog simply brokenness II. But I’ve changed that into resilience. Yesterday I attended IGNITE 2016, a conference by Spark, a NGO that focuses on entrepreneurship and higher education, especially for refugees. Since I am really searching for what I want to do with my degree and with my talents, I decided to go to this conference. Especially for the reason that it wasn’t supposed to be too academic and I wanted to challenge myself to engage with the more entrepreneurial side of our society. But if there is one thing I was reminded of again today, is that entrepreneurs have a positive mindset. So in that spirit, this blog is about resilience rather than brokenness.
25 years old. Her name is Alaa. She sat on the old wooden throne in the Beurs van Berlage, the world’s oldest (former) stock exchange building. She had a little bit of an air of proudness mixed with disbelief about her. Not quite realizing that she was actually in Amsterdam talking to a crowd of business managers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, NGO directors, researchers, world-famous professors and the list goes on. Yet also proud, since she had a story to tell about resilience rather than brokenness. I don’t want to say that there isn’t any brokenness in her life. On the day she graduated, she heard her father had been killed in the Syrian war. She had to flee the country. She ended up in Turkey, not knowing the language, but desperate for a way to earn a living. In two years, she set up a translation enterprise and is now developing a professional firm with staff.
In the break I spoke with another young woman that I hadn’t seen in a long time. She recently started studying again after a long period of health struggles. I asked her: “how did people support you? What was the type of support that helped you most throughout this process?” She said: “be available and simply listen.” I want to believe her and know that she is right, but it feels sort of like going the easy way. At the same time, I know that it isn’t the easy way. Because o boy, we always have something to say. Instead of just listen to Alaa tell her story about her translation business, a million questions pop up, people have advice, criticism, opinions. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but let’s just all shut up sometimes and let the resilience in a person be. Like Job’s friends did.
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
We know that story ends well. Not at first, since those friends do start talking and judging Job, but eventually he was richer and more blessed than ever before. I think that is resilience, if you go through the hardest period of your life, don’t deny the pain and grief it may give you, still don’t understand why it was all necessary, but in the end you keep going. That is why I chose to simply listen to people with such inspiring stories. Not because they are some sort of hero, but simply because I can learn from them and see the power of resilience in their eyes.