This chapter is about personal resilience. When I talked at the Cooks Congress of Lisbon last fall, I used my own life story starting in 2013 to address personal resilience. This was the year when my mum died, I got divorced and started the process of leaving the company I was currently working for, Microsoft.
Again, a little bit of context: I spent 22 years working for big companies and I am really grateful for that. I had wonderful projects, most of them bold and innovative, I was given great responsibility. I discovered a lot about the world, technology and behavioral trends, I traveled and met great people. But at this point I needed to stop and figure out what the next part of my life would be like.
One year later, I left my job and went on sabbatical time. I did a collection of travels in Asia, letting myself immerse in remote areas. Trekking in simple peasant places gave me the insights I needed. I reflected on the rhythms of nature, on social and economy scale and how happy one can be aligned with the physical world. I also saw food as a universal language touching all these different elements and this was the roots of what would later be Comida Independente.
I believe the main search when speaking about personal resilience is the search of your identity. If you take resilience definition on previous chapter, personal resilience is how you keep your personal identity in face of life changes.
Everything we think that define us, doesn’t. Your job title, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the places you go to or the people you hang out with.
The reason why these things don’t define you is simple: they change. And if you keep trying to protect them as if they were part of who you are, you will be acting out of fear.
You need to build your personal identity based on your personal truth. You know what is truth instinctively. Truth is where you come from, is transparent relationships, is being intimate to someone. You find truth in the rawness of nature and in hand-crafted objects. Truth is imperfect.
Here are the pictures I used to illustrate the talk:
Btw, I had good laughs with this book. It’s a humorous approach by Anne Berest, depicted here for the sake of illustration
I find this picture adorable: someone looking so happy yet so totally out of standard
When I told all of this to an audience of young cooks in the congress, I could feel they were paying so much attention, more than in any other part of the talk. Nobody was checking phones; they were fully focused on what I was saying.
COVID pandemics presents a new scale of challenge when it comes to personal resilience. The change most people are exposed to trigger levels of stress inescapably painful.
Some people have a high health risk, some will get sick, some others are health workers, or have health workers in the family. Many are in financial trouble, even some who never thought they would be.
So, going back to my resilience approach: what you are going through doesn’t define you. If you are a chef who’s doing take-away, an event manager who is receiving financial support from your family, if you are a nurse living apart from your family. These, painful as they are, are just circumstances. Get read of social constructs and do whatever you have to do to survive. This ability only shows how great you are inside.
Reach out for whatever brings you joy, your close friends, your family. Be true to them, even when is tough. Truth is always better than elaborate lies. Go through different options with no boundaries, perhaps you can farm and spend your time outdoors, you can drive and help on deliveries, you can photograph and build a beautiful website?
If you are resilient, what you have to do might hurt, but doesn’t change who you are.