Resilience: The Enemy of All Beds

Giulio was a student in the first cohort of Tip Labs. Read on to learn about his story and about this community’s impact on his story moving forward.


I found out about a campaign in Stanford and Harvard about “Resilience”. Undergrads, Profs and PhDs will come and talk about their major mistakes and failures, hoping to demonstrate to new students that a B+ is not the literal end of the universe.

This is happening because students often feel like a B+ on a midterm (or A- if you have any hopes of getting into grad school, ya fuckin’ loser) are the equivalent of the actual heat death of the universe, where their entire lives and dreams and work go to waste, a sad sack of garbage that might as well just fall out of that dorm-room window (except those windows are set to not open too much, so you’ll have to find another way to self-flagellate).

I found this resilience workshop hilarious, because although it addresses the immediate problem of telling people that minor setbacks are a part of being living, breathing humans, it doesn’t actually teach resilience. It just tells people that mistakes are normal, so they are still part of the pack. Wow, talk about breaking news. How about telling them that they are valid even if they are somewhat minimally unique? That we aren’t defined by grades not because some low ones can pass by, but because our value as humans could never be summarized into a GPA? That high employability is great, but not the waterline of their humanness since it is an illusion anyhow?

Nah, that would contradict the whole business model of the prestigious ivy leagues.


But what is resilience anyhow?

I think it’s me two years ago, exhausted and insufferably annoying, craving any type of human connection while making it impossible for my teammates to work with me because I was so needy, just trying to help, trying to be good, and failing in every possible sense. I was cranky, I yelled, I screwed up wiring, I was petty, and we were the absolute worst team in my year . . .

And I got to class every morning, to get shat on by equally stressed teammates and not understand any lecture material. And then I got to class again. Every day.

I think it’s also me a year and a half ago, deciding to take less courses so I could be healthier. Making the world I work in work for me too. Then spending less time with people who I should be friends with, and more with people I actually enjoy.

What I mean to say is that maybe resilience is not about knowing that you are still winning even with minor mishaps along the way, but that you don’t have to be winning, and that you just HAVE to play the game throughout the ENTIRE LOSING PROCESS… and then go play another game, one that you at least like.

If you are reading this, then you agree with me that Ji Youn is at least an interesting person, and at most, a master at Resilience, the true kind. I saw her perform as a promising academic, then snap and quickly crumble. I saw her life as a doctor disappear, then her future as an anthropologist, then her own existence as a living human be threatened.

And she got out of bed every morning.

(or almost)

Aside from her inspirational story, Ji Youn makes it a point to be inspirational to you (yes, you), as an individual. That’s what TheTippingPoint.Community is, and what Tip Labs does.

As it turns out, what makes you resilient is an open ended question, but having a direction works really well. It gives us a future to look at and go “Niiice. OK, back to the grind”. But it has to be real for you. A present To and From you, that makes you be Present.

That’s what Tip Labs gave me. After emotional and theoretical talks, worksheets and lectures, sad hugs and happy hugs, we were all ready to let go of so much fear and judgement we had over ourselves and our futures. We could see the road into our hearts a little bit better, and trace a line (curvy as it may) from where we are to somewhere we could be OK with. And just when we thought Ji was done, she gave us the professional tools to make it happen.

Now I’m making it happen.

I’m being resilient but not just to survive.

To live.


- Giulio