Even though I dislike neglecting science with anecdotes, I couldn’t help but feel bitter when a personality assessment I did for a job said that my main weakness was resilience, the cousin of perseverance.

My anger stems from the fact that companies seem to want two different people in one. They want a hard-working perfectionist who doesn’t let any detail go unnoticed and always delivers on time. In other words, a control freak. On the other hand, they also want a laissez-faire entropy worshiper who is never stressed out but thrives in an unpredictable environment. A Buddhist surfer. Before gene manipulation becomes mainstream, I can’t help to find these demands a tad naïve. It’s like the 21st-century corporate version of the Madonna and the whore dichotomy. Pick one, Procter and Gamble!

I must accept that Angela Duckworth has a point. As a control freak, I hate to admit it, but life will not always respect the plan I’ve carefully written in my Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook. If I do not become more resilient and learn how to bend without breaking, I may never get an internship, and then life will lose all its meaning. Yet, I cannot lie in interviews and say:

“Yes, I thrive in environments where I can never finish the tasks I’m paid to do because I just got another ‘EMERGENCY’ email, and I haven’t even finished my three other ‘EMERGENCY’ cases yet!”

But maybe there’s a middle way. It’s hard for a control freak to change her initial fearful response when uncertainty bangs on the door. However, as Viktor Frankl says: “Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. And in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our responses.” 2023 might be the year I should try filling that space with resilience. It seems to be the only way I can finally defeat chaos.

Columnist Dora Tolstoy will finish her master’s degree in International Management this year, but is not sure what she wants to do next. Every month, she writes about that struggle.

Dora Tolstoy columnist_nr1-Levien Willemse – Pauline Wiersema

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