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Boing boing! Resilience, adversity quotient, and tenacity

Shan’s musing on resilience and tenacity: An experience to inspire

On the theme of resilience and tenacity, this came to mind.

Life is like bumper cars. You take a few knocks along the way, smile; life still goes on. – Yip Pei Shan

Resilience (n.d.) is defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.  To quantify and qualify, the adversity quotient (AQ) is the science of human resilience.

Change is the only constant. - Heraclitus

This is one of my favourite quotes from this famous Greek Philosopher known for his change universal theory. Change and resilience are closely interwined.  Everyone experiences change on an intimate basis.  Change may be good, bad, or neutral.  It is a state of difference, not of constance.

Life is full of constant changes. We experience changes in life stages (transitioning from womb to tomb), social, emotional, mental, physical, and lifestyles.

There is one interesting experience I still remember to this day. I had been accepted into the study of my choice, Interactive Media Design, after vigorous screenings and interviews. Just by being in the prestigious and exclusive design course at that time would gain the respect and admiration of my peers in other faculties. Of course, we did not have a lot of time to bask in our glorified status in school. We had 10-20 projects to complete each week, comprising painting, drawing, photography, typography, social communication skills, copywriting, animation, electronic media, videography, etc. We would be in and out of school looking for locations to film, shoot, paint or draw in various mediums. Inspirational blocks came often, and we were always frustrated when that came. Somehow, I still found time to pursue my love of music and helping friends in other design courses.

We had the liberty to be cool, as long as we completed our projects well and on time. Presentations were a dime a dozen. I enjoyed photography, with funny memories of being cloistered in a tiny dark room with lots of other friends, and one of them letting out gas from the rear. In the midst of developing our photos, I had cut my thumb without even realising it as we were rushing to get our projects done. Only when my friend discovered in the well-lit area, did we realise it was bleeding profusely. All our photos had blood on them. It was indeed blood, sweat and tears.

Everything was going well. I was busy and happy. However, after we had chosen our specialisations, my grades started going downhill.  I had chosen the wrong specialisation.  Friendships soured from a clash of personalities and the intense constant pressure. The time for presenting our major projects arrived. Our presentations were a nice term for harsh criticism, where you either excelled or failed. Needless to say, I failed all.

I was kicked out of my course, with all my dreams of being a great designer dashed. It was a depressing time in my life, taking me a whole twelve months to get my act together again. I enrolled in another course of my choice, determined to excel in all aspects.

What happened in my second attempt at study? I found the best friends in my life, keeping them close to me up to now. Academically, I was in the top 5% in my large cohort; the cream of the crop. I gained exceptional life skills which I still keep to this day – a great focus, an iron will and discipline, a courage to weather all adversities, excellent time management and prioritising, emotional management, leadership skills, and dealing with people from all walks of life. My beloved class mentor said that I needed to contribute to my school in other ways, not just academically. I took on volunteer roles, leadership positions, and various other activities. Being a class leader, leader of several project and presentation groups, all added to the rubrics of study life. I even had a scholarship to study and do my practical in an Ivy League university, along with 2 others out of a cohort of 600 students.

Resilience is part of my character make-up. To bounce back from change, is something that we need to take in our stride. The pleasure of living is in the process, not the result. One more thing that is vital for living is tenacity. Tenacity is to hold fast. Hold fast to the pillars in your life, such as your morals, values, principles, and loved ones.

I almost lost hold of my pillars in my life when I was kicked out of my course. Do not let this happen to you. When you feel down, always look up! The sun will always rise. When there is life, there is hope. Let’s enjoy our life rollercoaster to the fullest!


Resilience. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved June 02, 2009, from website:


1 Boyd Dininger { 04.08.11 at 23:12 }

Did you promote it? Its exelent i like this hugely much.

2 peishan { 04.11.11 at 13:25 }

Yes, Boyd and thanks. I’ve spoken on this before. It was a good experience to share with others.

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