Resilience Essay Example: The Life of J.K. Rowling
“I am quite disciplined in my writing and do try to have a set working day, but I don't set myself targets of the number of words to achieve,” said author, and screenwriter, Joanne Kathleen Rowling. (CBC Books). Many times throughout the day, people can become caught up with all the negative aspects of their lives and forget to look at the positives. Learning to be resilient by overcoming whatever may be troubling, is a skill that not a lot of people have mastered. The definition of resilience is, “An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” (Merriam-Webster). To be resilient, one needs to find a starting point that will allow them to achieve some success. For Joanne Kathleen, also named J.K. Rowling, her start to success began with writing. The only way she could find security was through overcoming all the negative experiences that she had endured. Rowling allowed herself time to write, without a limit, and this gave her the security and happiness that she was searching for. J.K. Rowling started off in poverty, went through various difficult struggles, and soon after regained her strength leaving her to where she is today.
Growing up, Rowling went through a whirlwind of emotions. “Her childhood was generally happy, although she does remember getting teased because of her name, “Rowling” – She recalls often getting called “Rowling pin” by her less than ingenious school friends” (A&E Networks Television). This teasing from her classmates was one of the first struggles that she remembers enduring. This made her feel uncared for, but even though she felt this way, she kept going, worrying more about her family and future. She was extremely close to her mother, Anne, and her father, Peter, and sister Dianne were always there for her, even though she wasn’t as close with them.
As a family of four, the Rowling's enjoyed spending time with one another as often as they could. Together, they learned to live simply, as they struggled financially, but didn’t allow it to get the best of them. “Rowling grew up with a younger sister and an intense interest in storytelling. Rabbits played a large part in her early tales, for Rowling and her sister badly wanted a rabbit” (J. K. Rowling Biography). Storytelling and acting out imaginative stories became a common occurrence in the Rowling household. Looking for the positives in life became routine for Rowling, and this helped her to adapt to resilience much quicker as she began to grow up.
Rowling as a student
While growing up, J.K. Rowling studied at St. Michael’s Primary School in Gloucestershire, before moving to Chepstow, South Wales at the age of nine. (A&E Networks Television). This move allowed her to start fresh and get rid of those who teased her, using the resilience that her mother and father taught her. “In 1982, Rowling took the entrance exams for Oxford University but was not accepted. Instead of giving up, she graduated from the University of Exeter in 1986 and moved to London to work as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International” (Counihan).
Her parents had always wanted her to study something more than English, and going to the University of Exeter allowed this to happen. Although it wasn’t her passion, and she was torn apart by not being accepted into Oxford, she took this as a chance to try something new. Therefore, she moved to Paris and spent a year learning French. After she was through with this education, she decided it was time to get herself a job. She began working at Amnesty International which campaigns abuses against human rights throughout the world. Through this, she was able to meet the person that would make and break her future.
Rowling and her newly found “soul mate”, Jorge Arantes, got married and experienced an unplanned pregnancy. This was a very large struggle that became much harder when her mother passed away. This triggered her first feelings of depression. Being that she was right out of college, she didn’t have much experience with life and this was overwhelming. “Every day of my working week in my early 20s, I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone,” Rowling said (The Fringe Benefits).
Soon after, she became pregnant again, experiencing a new outcome. “But the magic was already evaporating from their marriage when Jessica was born July 27, 1993. Two months later, Arantes admits, he ordered his wife out of their apartment. “She refused to go without Jessica, and, despite my saying she could come back for her in the morning, there was a violent struggle,” he says. “I had to drag her out of the house at 5 in the morning, and I admit I slapped her very hard in the street.” (Fearon). This form of physical abuse led Rowling into a very deep hole of depression. “In her late 20s, struggling as an underemployed single mom after a failed marriage, Rowling went through a period of clinical depression” (CBC Books).
She was living out on the streets with Jessica, very poor, feeling like a failure, and her depression worsened by the day. Rowling therefore turned to what she loved most, writing. Despite the emotional wreckage, Rowling continued to work on her book. She had so little money, which slowed down her writing process. She felt as if she was a failure because she was jobless and had a “failed” marriage. All the while she had a little girl depending on her and so she used writing as a way to escape reality and cope with the overpowering struggle. (Fearon). She began to balance her time between writing and spending time with Jessica. Although Rowling felt as if her life was a failure, she kept going. She used this negativity to push her into a better life. “She took her infant child on walks to local cafes because that was the best way for her baby to sleep, and she carved out time to write her book while her baby slept peacefully” (Counihan). Although this struggle was tough at first, it became an everyday routine.
Through all of these different ups and downs of her routine, Rowling became even stronger and more resilient. She worked through the bad, thinking about Jessica instead of herself, until she couldn’t handle it anymore. She had bottled up so many emotions that she resorted to the very worst, attempting suicide. This failed attempt opened her eyes. “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” Rowling said (The Fringe Benefits). She decided that it was time for a change. She finished her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” She thought she was finally on the right track again, but her book was turned down by the publishers.
As hard as this was for her, Rowling didn’t let this stop her, as she was determined to get this published. She made several changes to her book, but it was turned down again. In fact, her book was turned down 12 different times. This was hard for Rowling and she wanted to give her daughter a better life, but the persistent feeling of failure became too much for her to handle. She thought again about suicide, but knew deep down that it wasn’t the answer, so she kept going until her book was published. This is when she adopted one of her favorite and most famous quotes, “It is our choices … that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (Counihan). This shows just how much she worked to get to where she is today. Resilience has become one of J.K. Rowling's greatest strengths and has led her to where she is today.
How it all affected her
Rowling has become a very successful and happy woman, having achieved a lot. With her fresh start she founded a new lifestyle, especially when she remarried in 2001 and had two more children. She stopped writing one of her books so that she could find a healthy balance between her new career and family, and she finished writing her series, which has sold more than 450 million copies and was adapted into a blockbuster film franchise. “According to The Sunday Times 2017 Rich List, J.K. Rowling’s net worth is £650 million (about $850 million) — making her wealthier than even Queen Elizabeth II” (A&E Networks Television). After this achievement, Rowling continued to climb the rungs of life. In April of 2013, Rowling broke into a new genre, crime fiction, with a novel she published under the pen name Robert Galbraith. In its first few months of release, the novel had modest sales and received positive reviews. Sales for the work skyrocketed in July when its author's identity was discovered (A&E Networks Television). Her identity being hidden was supposed to be her opportunity to start over.
She was hoping to take this as a way to use her fresh start as something worth it. Her experiences were a struggle before this time, and she wanted to allow for a less dramatic and stress filled life, but she did not let this reveal stop her from living her best possible life, and therefore, she accomplished many more things. “In March 2015, Rowling received the British Red Cross Humanity Award for her charitable work and advocacy for humanitarian causes. The award honors prominent philanthropists and humanitarians whose work has changed people's lives around the world” (Counihan).
This was one of the first awards she achieved, and it allowed her to appreciate all the positive parts of life. She then founded the international children's organization, Lumos, whose mission is to support 8 million children in institutions worldwide to regain their right to family life and to end the institutionalization of children. In April of 2015, the speech she had given in 2008, was published in the book Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. The self-improvement guide offers advice on how to embrace failure and use your imagination to succeed. Proceeds from the book benefit Lumos, J.K. Rowling’s non-profit children’s organization (A&E Networks Television). This honor has made Rowling feel as if the numerous struggles she encountered were worth overcoming. This charitable work, in which she speaks of her struggles, as an advocate, and gives advice on how to overcome it, has allowed her to see a new light. She has become so wealthy through her life that she has also been able to donate large funds to her charities, along with making it known to others so that they can donate as well. All of her resilience has paid off, allowing her to help others who are struggling with the same things she went through. These organizations, along with her books, have become her pride and joy in a world full of chaos.
All in all, Rowling’s “Rags to Riches” story is an inspiration to all those who are learning how to be resilient. J.K. Rowling started off in poverty, went through and a variety of difficult struggles, and soon after regained her strength leaving her to where she is today. “Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality,” Rowling states (The Fringe Benefits). Being resilient is a difficult skill, but Rowling has mastered the art of recovering from the hardships of life. As of right now, her ex-husband is trying to gain the right to see Jessica again. Rowling is using her newly formed lifestyle and experiences to work through this matter in a very resilient and mature way. This shows all of those struggling with anything in their lives that attaining a brighter future can happen. Although there will always be something new to handle, if one shows resilience, the problem will get better. As Rowling always says, “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters” (The Fringe Benefits).
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