Grit and graduation

Last week, Roger Federer got an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.   And he gave a brilliant ‘Commencement Address’  to his fellow graduates.

One of the things he spoke about was talent.  He said it “has a broad definition.  Most of the time it’s not about having a gift.  It’s about having grit.

Interesting.  Grit is something I associate with HSPs.  I’ve seen it in every one I’ve met.

Whichever way you look at it.

(1) Dictionary definitions of grit include: “courage and determination despite difficulty” (Cambridge), “resolve, strength of character” (Oxford Languages), and “firmness of mind and spirit” (Merriam-Webster).

HSPs are the most determined, hard-working and spirited people I know.  They stick to their principles … even when it’s hard, inconvenient to others and leaves them out of sync and alone.

(2) In her book, “Grit”, psychologist Angela Duckworth talks about its powerful blend of passion and persistence.

Two things HSPs have in abundance.

(3) GRIT has also become an acronym.  Some variations have it standing for Guts, Resilience, Integrity and Tenacity.  Others change the G to Growth and/or the I to Initiative.

All qualities I’ve seen in HSPs.

I appreciate this might come across as if HSPs are some sort of wondrous beings (we’re not).  And as if no one else has these attributes (they do).

But I want to put it all in the context of ‘graduation’.  Back to Roger.

He thinks of himself as having “graduated from tennis”.   And “finishing one big thing and moving onto the next” – just like the graduates he was addressing

My experience of HSPs is that they have graduated too – from one view of their sensitivity to another.  Not by completing a course, but through discovery, exploration and – finally – self-understanding.

What HSPs graduate from is the struggle they’ve had with their sensitivity and the shame they’ve carried about it.

What they move on to is making sense of themselves and their experience.  And freedom from shame.

So I’m not going to apologise for celebrating and ‘bigging up’  such a transformation, especially from such a starting place!

That sort of ‘graduation’ changes everything.  And it takes grit and perseverance to get there.

If you’re still reading this, I suspect you know that.

You may have ‘graduated’ already or be in the process.  Either way, to quote Roger again,  “From one graduate to another, I can’t wait to see what you do next”.