As 2021 — another challenging year, especially for the incarcerated community— came to a close, we invited students to reflect on the idea of resilience. The below essay was written as part of that series, which was shared as part of our end-of-year fundraising campaign.
by Carl Raybon
Early in life I assumed everyone suffered the same challenges I experienced: alcoholic parent, absent parent, witnessing domestic violence in the home, feelings of hopelessness, insecurity, abandonment, low self-esteem, etc. (just to name a few!). While I managed to survive and live to the age I am now (57), I did not make the connection to how resilient I am. I was showing resilience by surviving, using the skills and techniques I employed to combat the dysfunctional conditions I was limited to. Skills that served me, no matter how damaging they would, ultimately, prove to be.
Today, I have come to see life in a different light, and in that, in the morning when I rise, my outlook on life is to be the best representation of what honesty, open-mindedness, acceptance, and willingness to treat others as I wish to be treated looks like.
Resilience is enduring and maintaining a sense of being through the challenges, shortcomings, and expectations of others that can deter me from accomplishing any goals or endeavors I wish to achieve. Even if that is just taking life one day at a time. It is the optimism generated from resilience that encourages me to never give up, because I have, indeed, experienced consequences and circumstances that I believed I would not live through, but I did and I learned from those situations. The quality of life I am now aware of allows me the presence of being to share with others what it means to be resilient during times of uncertainty and moments of crisis.