The Art of Bouncing Back

The competition was fierce. The other team seemed twice as big and fast as us. I was the only girl in the game, and I was the last line of defense ahead of the goalie. We had 20 minutes left and the score was still zero to zero. Something had to give.

Suddenly a player from the other team came rushing toward me. I somehow managed to get the ball away from him, but was immediately surrounded by the other team’s offense. My only option was to pass back to my goalie. I shouted, passed the ball back, and my heart immediately sank. The ball rolled right past the goalie and into the net. I had inadvertently scored on my own team.

I wanted to disappear. The anger and embarrassment were crushing to little me, made worse by other boys on my team who made fun of me and said that girls shouldn’t play soccer.

My coach pulled me off the field. I cried bitterly, and told my mom I wanted to go home. She wouldn’t allow it. She insisted that I finish the game; that I couldn’t quit just because something had gone wrong.

I don’t remember now if we won or lost, but I will never forget jogging back onto the field and seeing that game through to the end. It was a formative lesson that has echoed across my life.

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

Fast-forward to adulthood. When I moved from Boston to the Bay Area, I had a hard time finding a meaningful job that could make ends meet. Job searching can be a brutal grind, and the struggle was real. After months of close calls and near-misses I felt frustrated, and was losing my confidence as well as my savings.

A good friend turned the situation on its head by daring me to see just how many rejections I could get in the next month. This re-framed the situation, made me laugh, and also…

Within three weeks I had not only racked up a number of victorious rejections, but I got an offer for the job I was most excited about. It was a total win. But – quite importantly – the win only came after first learning to navigate many losses.


Building resilience is the work of a lifetime.

It hinges on emotional awareness, strength, and growing one’s capacity to recover and learn from difficulties. It’s about finding a way forward, even when circumstances don’t make it easy or even likely. We’ve all been there many times before, and we’ll all be there many times again.

The question becomes, how can we help lift each other up?

My hope is that all of us have a chance to do for others what my mom and my friend (to name only two) were able to do for me at radically different points in my life.

Here’s to standing back up, again and again.


When have you or someone you know bounced back from a difficult situation? 

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