13 The Power of Sisu
How a word changed everything
Kristine Smolsky was a former co-worker of mine, and she and I were driving home in her car one evening after a work meeting. I had recently submitted my letter of resignation from the organization. Kristine now congratulated me on my decision, telling me how proud of me she was for standing up for what I believed in.
“Have you ever heard of the word sisu?” Kristine looked over at me and said.
I had never heard of it before.
“I want you to look it up when you get home,” she said. “Because you’re that word.”
This was what I found on Wikipedia:
“Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns… It is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English.”
I had not started writing, but I’d certainly been on a search to find my life’s purpose. So when Kristine mentioned sisu in relation to me, even before I looked it up, I knew that it would come in handy one day. And it has been the constant thing that sees me through my impossible dream.
Sadly, I found out that Kristine had passed away from an illness in December 2018. I was devastated, but who she was as a person, our connection and her having shared with me this powerful word from her culture have all attenuated my loss.
Turns out, sisu has always been part of my life.