The COVID crisis throws into relief what happens when grief has—quite literally—nowhere to go. The evidence suggests that most people summon strengths that surpass their own expectations.
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The idea of sticking around to build character only makes sense if what you're sticking around for is worthwhile to you in other ways, if you can see the end in sight and have a goal in mind that you really care about achieving. Otherwise, you're probably just sticking around because of the dread of being stigmatised as 'a quitter'. It doesn't build character to force yourself into pointless situations where your quality of life suffers needlessly, but it does build character to be empowered to make your own choices and take responsibility for them.
I've heard people make the separate but similar argument that kids should be compelled to go to school because learning things that are boring and unnecessary is character-building for them and shows them that life isn't going to be all sunshine and apple picking. However, I'm sure that kids can learn that in other ways. It makes much more sense to help them reach for what they truly want than to passively accept the unwanted. And I wonder if any of the adults who say it would take their own advice. "I won't accept that promotion to manager - it's character-building to have to take instructions from others even when I have better ideas than them". "I'd apply for a job I really enjoy but it's so much more character-building to work at something I hate". I think school ought to just stick to helping kids reach for their passions and their talents, and let their character-building look after itself.
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