Grit in the Boringness of Life

Nicole Manges
Part 2 of a 7-Part Series

As part of the team that wrote the Spirit of a Forester language in 2019, Nicole is sharing the heart behind each of the seven Forester traits and their practical applications. Today’s trait: Foresters Have Grit 

When I think about the word grit, I think about sand. Not the sparkling tropical beach variety. I picture the lake in the middle of Indiana kind of sand — mostly small rocks that aren’t quite smooth mixed with dirt and clay. Commonplace, and probably not pristine. If you walk through gritty sand like this, you’ll feel it dig into your flip-flops and come away with dusty traces on your feet.   

What’s remarkable about this sand is that it’s nothing special. You might look at its gray ordinariness and wish you were in Tahiti, but you could just as easily think it has a great “rugged wilderness” vibe. You can sit in your beach chair all day dreaming of something different, or you can embrace the grit. The choice is yours.   

Those who embrace the grit are willing to get their hands and feet dirty as they build sand castles, dig for treasures, or play beach volleyball. They sprint from the shore to the water and wade in the waves, even if they bruise their heels on a stray rock. They enjoy the beach because they see something worth enjoying: an adventure, a sunset, a bonfire. They turn something ordinary into something special.  

Many people think of triumph over trials when they think about “having grit.” I do, too. It’s heroic to have grit in the midst of what is obviously a battle. I’m certain we all can think of someone who has persevered when faced with a difficult circumstance.  

This Forester trait is not limited to extraordinarily tough moments, however. Like the sand on lakeside beaches, sometimes grit is in the plain, everyday situations of life.  

How do you keep going when life is boring and monotonous? How do you encourage your friends who are struggling — not with big, life-changing stuff but just a classic bad day? How do you put your best work into a project when minimal effort would earn a pass?  

Answer: You have grit.  

A forester (someone who manages trees for a living) deals with grit on a daily basis. Caring for trees means getting boots and hands dirty as you prune, dig, and plant your way through the forest. You do it anyway because it’s what needs to be done. Without this vital day-to-day down-in-the-dirt work, the forest suffers.   

Similarly, Foresters (capital F) are willing to take on the everyday, commonplace work in their lives. They go to class even when a nap sounds better on a rainy Tuesday. They show up when somebody needs them, even if it’s to share an ice cream or a video game at the end of a long day. They treat a project as a learning experience, not just a grade. This kind of grit might not be flashy or pristine, but this is the grit that gets stuff done. Day in, day out. Year after year.  

Sure, Foresters have grit when things get tough, too. But they have grit in those big life moments because they already possessed grit in the first place. They picked it up along the path in meaningful but ordinary ways. Breaking in their boots and gloves in the forest. Getting their beach bag a bit damp on the pebbly beach. Walking through the dirt, clay, and rock to make a life worth living and turn something ordinary into something special. 

Embracing the grit.    

Written by
Nicole Manges