The New Grit

By: Caitlin Cannon

Characterstics of the Gritty Person

Grit is often used to get through adversity; there is no need for grit without there being adversity. Grit and Adversity are like the opposite duo that can't live or exist without each other. There's many characteristics that make up a "gritty person". So here is your guide to fighting adversity with grit on your side.

Characteristics needed to face Adversity:


Dictionary Definition: The ability to do something that frightens one

Personal Definition:The ability to stay strong and get through things no matter how hard they are or how scary they seem to be.

Use of Characteristic:You have to be able to have the courage to get through the problems you are facing no matter how big or how small. Always remember that courage can run the whole show when facing adversity.


Dictionary Definition: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

Personal Definition: Handling difficulties easily. (Yes we all can do this, surprising I know.)

Use of Characteristic: Resilience is not always easy, it sometimes seems difficult to find. Though if you want say “I made it.” after a problem you have to have Resilience. Resilience is required during difficult situations. Having resilience is focusing on what you want to accomplish and trying to not let the other things bother you.

Self Believe-

Dictionary Definition: Confidence in oneself and one's ability

Personal Definition: Believing that you can accomplish your goals, even if it's just generally believing in yourself.

Use of Characteristic: You have to believe that you can get through adversity. You have to believe in yourself, that you can get through the struggles you face. Self Belief isn't always the first thing that comes into your head when thinking of having grit. Though if you want to get anywhere in life you have to believe you can. Self Belief is also needed when facing adversity, you have to believe that you have the capability of getting yourself through situations.

Endurance/Mental Toughness-

Dictionary Definition: The fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.

Personal Definition: Getting through the problems you face and staying mentally strong through it, no matter how hard it is or seems to be.

Use of Characteristic:There's going to be good and bad days no matter what, though you have to stay mentally strong. Keep a strong head and you'll make it through. Mental Toughness and endurance both work together. Having endurance is not only meant for physical activities, endurance can also be helpful in mental activities. When facing adversity you have to keep going. Endurance can be used in adversity, by being able to last as long as possible until the problem is solved. Never letting yourself give up is having mental toughness and endurance.


Dictionary Definition: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Personal Definition: Being able to hope for a better day or future; dreaming of what can happen and empowering yourself to get there.

Use of Characteristic: Hope. Hope is not just a silly thing for children's shirts, hope is needed to fight adversity. You have to be able to have the hope that you'll get through adversity.I can guarantee that with hope comes self empowerment to make that dream a reality.

Not your Grandparents Grit

Like all things grit changes over time. Researchers, specifically Angela Duckworth, have noticed that current day grit has changed by, how much grit a person possesses and the characteristics and definitions that make up the current day gritty person. There has been such a change in grit that researchers are now studying what’s happening to grit. Researchers are even looking at why the current generation of children are lacking grit. Forbes Magazine did an interview with Angela Duckworth and the article stated, “According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit is defined as ‘firmness of character; indomitable spirit’. Duckworth, based on her studies, tweaked this definition to ‘perseverance and passion for long term goals.’”. The author of this article also went on to say how that grit isn’t just about perseverance and long term goals but can also be about the attitude to succeed no matter what obstacles may be on that path. This article also stated that “This doesn’t diminish their fortitude, but rather underscores that grit perhaps is more about attitude than an end game.” The author stated this after referring to gritty people she knows that don’t always look at the big picture, or long term goal. This article also mentioned how teachers are noticing that children currently in school have “grown soft”. While in past teaching years they saw more grit in children than they do now. Overall this article shows that current day grit is not what it was when our grandparents were our age. Rightfully so, a lot of other things since our grandparents were our age have changed. My grandparents grew up in the 1940’s and 1950’s and I was born in the early 2000’s. By basically examining what my grandparents lived through and what’s currently happening today, are very different topics. Yet some of the things that happened are similar in their own way. Especially that all events require some sort of grit, no matter what characteristic that may be. For instance my grandparents generation had to deal with, World War II,the Dustbowl, and the Civil Rights Movement. There also was big changes for America including, increase in female employment, college attendees and graduates increased, and the invention of the television caused media to spread even faster. While my generation is dealing with, terrorism, social media, economic struggles, increase in stress disorders, and harder academics. Though both generations endured similar things such as, poverty, family issues, personal problems (i.e. social and health), unequal rights, protesting towards end to discrimination, racism, and even bullying. These major events for both generations raise one question. Can grit really accurately be measured? Or does the amount of grit a person has solely depend on the person? Both generations will have gritty people in them no matter what. Though what Angela Duckworth and other various researchers have noticed is the majority of grit in people today has dropped. Showing that grit is not so common now as it was back in my grandparents days.
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Bruno, Shmuel, and Grit

Not only do real life people use grit in their everyday lives but authors personify gritty characters. An example of a gritty character in a novel is in the story called, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne. Boyne crafted a beautiful story of two nine year old boys. The boys were growing up in the midst of Nazi Germany, though they didn't understand what and why things were happening. Especially the fact that they had a fence between them. Both Shmuel and Bruno were very gritty in there own ways, though Shmuel showed the most overall grit. Shmuel lived in a concentration camp, he was then beat, following he became malnourished, next treated like a animal, was always over worked, and finally separated from his family members. Due to this various events faced he was not as indifferent about life as his new friend Bruno was. Though Shmuel found a small way to enjoy life when Bruno visited him from the other side of the fence. Shmuel had the courage to keep living through hard conditions. He had the resilience to still try to enjoy what little life he had left. He believed that one day he would leave the fenced in walls and that he would find his grandfather and father again. He had the mental toughness/endurance to keep going, keep living. He even had the hope that one day he and Bruno could see each other without a fence in between them. Shmuel was right about that. He did get to see Bruno without a fence between them and they did get to go exploring. Shmuel proves to be gritty on all levels. Bruno may not have lived as hard of a life as his neighbor Shmuel, but he did face adversities that caused him to use grit. He first moved away from his home, was then very lonely at his new home, following his grandmother died, and at the same time his father and he did not see eye to eye on the situations the family was facing. Bruno was courageous by disobeying his father’s rules to go to the fence to see Shmuel. He was resilient by keeping the secret about Shmuel from his parents so he could continue to make his own and Shmuel’s lives better by having each other as company. Bruno used self believe to push him and Shmuel harder and farther into finding Shmuel’s father. Bruno did lack the ability of having endurance and mental toughness; he was often quick to give up. Though Bruno had the hope that one day he and Shmuel would not be separated by the fence, Bruno wanted to take Shmuel to Berlin one day. In conclusion the events faced by these boys made them both gritty.
The Boy In the Striped Pajamas trailer

Your "Sweetness", His Grit

Walter Payton was born July 25, 1954. He grew up poor, in Mississippi during segregation in the south. Due to the time period in which he grew up, he attended at the time, an all black college, Jackson State University. Payton will always be remembered for his amazing football talents, and of course as his nickname “Sweetness”. Sweetness lived through many adversities throughout his lifetime. As mentioned before in his early life he grew up very poor and had to deal with racism and segregation. Since he lived in Mississippi he attended college at Jackson State University, where his long football career began and blossomed. In college he rushed over 3,500 yards and scored more than 450 points. Due to this he was selected for the All-American team and won Black College Player of the Year, twice, in 1973 and 1974. An outcome of his college success was being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1975. After being drafted he quickly became a well known player who would blow the minds of all watchers due to his football skills. He played football for 13 seasons before retiring. Payton thought he would only make it 5 seasons, which he definitely proved others and himself wrong. Sweetness was a running back and became known for his speed. A result of his career landed him with, NFL rushing record of 16,726 yards and the single game record of rushing 275 yards, Nine pro-bowl appearances, he won the M.V.P. award twice, he was inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame. Walter Payton was also known for never going down on the field it would take many defensive line men to take him down. Although Walter Payton was as well known outside of the field as he was in. An impact of always doing anything he could to help others is that he started many foundations and organizations to helping young people in Illinois, especially inner city Chicago children. Though during Paytons seasons with the Bears, his Father died. Therefore, Walter Payton was dealing with his own personal problems while also playing football and being in the public’s eye. He used grit in this situation by being strong and getting through his adversities. He also used grit to get through injuries he faced during his career due to playing football. No matter how bad it hurt he was known for always having a smile on his face and keeping his sense of humor. In fact he only missed one game in his 13 year career. Walter Payton became ill after retirement from football with a rare liver cancer. Though he refused to use celebrity gain for a spot to get an immediate donor. Effects of this made him encourage more people to sign up to be organ donors. Due to using his popularity for good that year there were thousands of new registers. Walter Payton never stopped fighting to beat the cancer, though he lost the battle and died November 1, 1999. Though Sweetnesses legacy did not die with him, his will to keep fighting both in football and in life still inspires people today. His charities, foundations, and organizations still exist and help countless people. Both the ones he started and ones that started after him. They even give the Walter Payton award to the player that does the most charitable work every year. Sometimes, it takes the events and things a gritty person faces to inspire millions of other people to become gritty. Walter Payton certainly inspires people still today and his legacy and spirit, that also made him have grit, will never die.
Walter Payton career highlight
Megan Bugg is a 13 year old girl who is fighting stage 4 cancer. She possesses grit to fight through the nasty chemotherapy and radiation treatments in hope to beat the cancer. Visit Megan's blog, run by her dad, about her courageous battle with cancer.

Decades of Grit

Unlike most people, when I think of grit, there is a very different picture in my head, then there is in others. I don’t think of a celebrity or a movie character or even my favorite book characters, I think of my grandfather. My grandfather was born November 24, 1937, he was the third child born to his parents. He was the first in his family to go to college.The problem was he had to pay for college on his own. He solved this by getting a job to pay for college, as well as playing Minor League Baseball. After college he joined the army to help pay for law school. After service and law school he was officially a lawyer. He had his own law practice and had to provide for his family of 9. My grandfather was also very witty, he had many catch phrases he would use. In particular he would say “As far as that goes.”. He would say this while talking about what happened at work or simply watching the weather report. Though there was humor backed to this, I also beIieve that it applied to his grit. He always would push himself as far as he could. He wouldn’t stop at good enough he would always go farther. When he said this I would always think that you can to farther than what you had already done. This could apply with school work or just how to live your life. Others and I who knew him will always remember my grandfather as someone who never went down without a fight. This stayed true to his character till the end. He had been battling Parkinson’s Disease and fought and fought to get through this problem. Though he lost the fight on April 20, 2013. My grandfather leaves behind a parade of gritty people that he took part in raising. His 7 sons and daughters and their 15 children, his grandchildren. All of his children and grandchildren are gritty individuals just like he was.
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My grandfather and I, when I was a few months old.
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