Grit – Amy
I grew up in a small, mostly rural, county about two hours south of Louisville. The majority of kids there grow up on or near a farm, and most end up working there or in coal-related fields. Seeing anyone grow up and end up in any sort of white-collar workforce is pretty rare there. Amy, is one particular exception to that trend. We became friends in elementary school, and stayed friends from then on. She was always exceptionally bright, but her ambition and bravery is really why I’m writing about her now. In 9th grade, while most students were doing silly teenage things, she was working nearly full-time in her family’s own diner – Both to make ends meet for her family, but also to build savings for college. You see, she had a plan to go through school and unlike most farmers or miners in the area… She wanted to become a doctor – fast. In 11th grade, I found out that Amy wouldn’t be attending high school from then on, because she had been accepted into an incredibly prestigious program at WKU where students completed high school, while taking college classes. Amy ended up earning her high school diploma in 2010, walking with our class… Followed by a BS in Biology the following year. She went on to attend medical school, start her residency, and today she’s a doctor at an age when most of our high school class are just beginning their careers.
I can honestly say I’m in no way as ambitious as Amy. But despite that, I admire her bravery to grow far past any expectations many people had for her. She greatly inspired myself to really make my own path and grow my skills more organically rather than subscribe to a strict career path.
Resilience – David
David struggled finding his place even before he started school at University of Louisville. He doesn’t like to plan, and enjoys finding passion in a wide variety of industries. With those traits, and many more, he’s faced problems finding and sticking to one degree program at the school. He started out in musical performance, aiming to make a career in music playing a variety of music. His passion even allowed him to tour Europe and play in some amazing locations. But, despite that, he quickly fell out of love with music and instead switched to history/education… Sadly, after seeing what that program requires and the state of Louisville school system… He very quickly switched to a communications program. Despite all this, he’s loved every moment and hasn’t worried at all about what the future may hold. For him, it’s easy to be resilient when his goal is to simply enjoy what he’s doing.
For me, I like to take the same approach towards my own skills. I enjoy a variety of hobbies, from computer programming to knitting. Being resilient to me means I can enjoy and be happy with what I’m doing, and when that passion fades or is replaced with something new… I can walk away without feeling guilty about the time spent or other investments made towards it. Someday, I may revisit it… and if not, at the very least I acquired new skills and found happiness in something passionate.
Vulnerability – Mother
My mother has struggled with chronic pain for the majority of my life. She’s in a very good spot now, but she wasn’t always in control of her situation. She has severe scoliosis and disability problems that she deals with on a daily basis. Despite living with a worsening state of health, and a constant source of frustration, she’s remained optimistic and preserved. She can’t do all that she would like, but at the end of each day she’s happy with what she accomplished regardless. She wears her vulnerability without care that she may or may not be able to keep up with others her age – Instead, she focuses on what she can do, and what she enjoys doing, to be happy with herself despite all else.
Watching my mother struggle with her diagnosis and eventually come to terms with her reality absolutely influenced how I dealt with my deafness growing up. Up until 6th grade I had average hearing, but from that point on I developed profound hearing loss that eventually lead to me requiring two high-power hearing aids to augment my hearing today. I feel like seeing my mother go through her situation has given me the same bravery to handle my own, and to treat vulnerability as simply a fact of life. Everyone has one (or more), so there’s no sense in trying to hide it in shame or frustration.