Friday, June 11, 2021

Bite The Bullet (MY Eng #16)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill' and 'pot calling the kettle black'.

Why do I have to put up with this nonsense? Life just isn't fair! I need a way out!

It's fairly common to harbour such thoughts, day in day out. Annoyances build up to frustration. People around us can be such a pain, sometimes. A dream job can turn into a nightmare overnight.

But wait! Don't throw in the towel just yet (another idiom)! Weather the storm. Stay the course. Keep your cool.

* * *

At a former workplace, there used to be a word often thrown about. True, it's just one of many corporate jargons that we're constantly lectured on, but this one's quite meaningful and under-rated. It's a character trait called 'resilience'. Or in more colourful terms, this refers to our ability to 'bite the bullet'.

I'm not quite sure how the expression came about. I don't think it means literally clamping a bullet between our teeth. Rather, it invokes the even more frigthening prospect of being shot. How well can we ignore the pain and carry on with, well, whatever we were doing before we got shot.

Now, this will sound rather preachy, condescending, and mean-spirited. But hey, cold hard truths need to be said, even if they cuts deeply into our heart (like a silver bullet).

What youngsters lack - now, more than ever - is resilience. They're too brittle and fragile. They freak out at the first sign of trouble. They can't handle stress well. They can't accept when things don't go their way. They're not very good in biting the bullet.

Still, to be fair, they're going through a harder time than any other generation. Population is growing, and competition rises in tandem. The expectations of your parents and elders is out of touch with present-day reality. The world turns at a faster pace. It's harder to get noticed when you're faring well, but easier to be spotted when you stumble. Social media can be an unforgiving place.

You can rue the luck of being born in this day and age. But so what? Complaining and whining won't change the hand that you've been dealt with. Yes, the deck may be stacked against you. But you know what? That's all the more reason to grow a tougher shell, thicker skin, and above all, tenacious spirit.

* * *

As the popular saying goes: When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

The difference between people who are merely good and truly great is minute. At the highest level, it's no longer about skill nor intelligence. The tie-breaker is resilience. Grit. Patience. Determination. A never-give-up attitude. The greatest achievers are not those who never fail, but those who never cease to pick themselves up after they fall.

So grow a spine. Don't be a snowflake. Bite the bullet, and bite it hard!

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