For the longest time, Harry Potter was the mascot of most millennials. But then a new kid arrived on the block: Katniss Everdeen, the iconic heroine of The Hunger Games trilogy, which went on to become a blockbuster film.

And a new role model was born. 

I must confess I haven’t read much dystopian fiction and living in 2020, I’m not sure I want to, for now. But I’m a big fan of Katniss, also known as the girl on fire. She remains one of my favorite fictional characters not only because she is a girl-power hero but also because she’s one of the most resilient and determined characters I’ve read about. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from her during these uncertain times, it’s the power of grit and resilience

The story of 16-year-old Katniss is set in a future dystopia, where participants are forced to compete in an annual televised battle unto death named the Hunger Games. She lives in an impoverished coal-mining region in the autocratic nation of Panem where she becomes a symbol of revolution against an oppressive government. Armed with just a bow and arrow, she sets off on her journey during which she faces many challenges. But she is an agile and skilled hunter as well as a quick thinker who keeps her head cool as she consumes everything in her path as she plays the Hunger Games. 

Much like Katniss, we too face several challenges and setbacks in life. With the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, our world has come very close to resembling the dystopias that we’ve only seen in books and films. It’s an unprecedented time. Living in a pandemic is the new normal. With no vaccine in sight and the graph curving sharply upwards, it’s anyone’s guess how long this is going to last. 

It’s important to be resilient to deal with these challenges. And Katniss from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games taught me how to do it. As I live through these uncertain times, I find that Katniss’ story and habits have a lot of resonance. In different ways, the pandemic is testing our grit and resilience. 

So what is grit, exactly? 

Angela Duckworth, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied grit extensively and in her book Grit, she defines it as a combination of perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Grit can be built by cultivating one’s interests and passions, eliminating negative thoughts, and staying focused on long-term goals despite setbacks. One persists through difficult times by not taking the easy way out. 

The first part of the definition of grit—perseverance—is about being resolute in the face of difficulties or delays in achieving success. Different people term grit differently—tenacity, determination, resolution—but really it’s the driving force that helps you meet the goals and overcome any obstacles in the way.

The other critical component of grit is passion. One needs to be extremely passionate about one’s long-term goals to be able to stick to them even in the face of challenges and adversity. You can learn more about grit in the Harappa course Embracing Change.

This can be challenging to do alone. In order to be a gritty person, you should surround yourself with people who are ready to look out for you. Have a support system in place to propel you forward and deal with challenging situations effectively. 

For Katniss, this support system was known as a “prep team”, which was a group of people responsible for bringing out the best in her and contributing to her larger goal. One of my biggest takeaways from the story was the importance of being surrounded by gritty people—my very own real-life prep team.

The world around us is changing. All of us need to embrace change.

Here are three things you can do to be resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks:

  • Don’t think of mistakes as major setbacks or roadblocks. Make them part of your learning journey instead.
  • Have a team of first responders who you can reach out to when things are overwhelming.
  • Lean on mentors, friends, and experts for guidance whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.

One is not born a gritty person, but one can definitely know how to be one! You can continue your learning journey by exploring Harappa’s Embracing Change course! 


You can enroll now for the Practicing Excellence course from Harappa Education to demonstrate integrity and agility at your workplace. Learn how to achieve workplace success with our Online Learning Courses. Explore topics such as Self Awareness, Meaning of Charisma, and Resilience Examples from our Harappa Diaries blog section and take charge of your growth.

Deepita Shukla is an associate in the Curriculum Team at Harappa Education. She studied Sociology and Liberal Arts and can be spotted with a journal that has her thoughts doodled, in no particular chronological order. 

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