They Say I’m Resilient

By Niko Coady

People say I’m strong. They can’t imagine how I deal with the day to day.
How do I move on? How do I continue to laugh, to smile, to enjoy the simplest of joys?

Survivors are told they are brave, resilient, impenetrable.
But our resilience is in the moments we are willing to be exhausted.
To show our anger, our trauma, our isolation,
to those who say we are strong.

Resilience gets put on a pedestal.
It is something we admire, and hold up high, and covet.
But my resilience is not something I chose. It’s not something I wanted, or want, or would choose to be recognized for.
People say survivors are incredible because of their strength. No.
Survivors are people, and they have to be strong to survive.

To me, resilience isn’t about getting back up after you are pushed down, or smiling in the face of adversity, or continuing to move even when everything hurts.
It’s about sharing that the systems around us are continuing to cause pain.
It’s about allowing yourself to grieve the adversity you have been forced to face.
It’s about asking the people in your life to lend a hand and pull you back up, because you don’t want to be strong anymore.

We have to stop forcing survivors to be resilient, and start asking our institutions to minimize retraumatization.

Of course, we can recognize resilience. We can see that people have to get back up time and time again through adversity.  But I believe we should take resilience off the pedestal. Let’s covet change, growth, and empathy. Covet the traits that allow us to give people spaces where they do not have to be resilient.

People say I’m strong. But I just had to survive.



Niko Coady is a recent graduate from the University of New Brunswick, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Gender and Women’s Studies. She has a certificate in Family Violence Issues, and has volunteered for several years within the sexual violence prevention and intervention spaces within her communities. She currently works as a Partnership Coordinator with REES. Niko is passionate about ending sexual violence on post-secondary campuses and hopes to empower survivors through her work and her writing.