Your Corner Stone of Awesome

Friends, I’d like to share something impressive with you.
When I was 25 and living in Taiwan, I negotiated the terms of my lease in Chinese.
What?  Yes.
(Or, perhaps more accurately, Google Translate and some very decisive body language negotiated my lease.)

When I was 26, I got myself from Santorini, Greece to San Remo, Italy via six different pieces of transport (ferry, train, plane, subway, train, taxi).  I did it alone, without speaking Greek or Italian and I only got lost once and that was because I fell asleep on the train.When I was 27, I moved to New Zealand with a dude I’d been dating for three months.  I earned my M.A. in 18 months while working two jobs. (P.S. I would not necessarily recommend doing this.)

When I was 29, I went through an awful break up that necessitated starting my life over.  I was so broke I took a second job and blogged from my work computer because it took my three months to save enough money to buy a $200 netbook.
I’m not really telling you guys these things to impress you so much as to remind myself of what I am really, actually capable of.
When I’m feeling malcontent.
Or intimidated.
Or nervous.
Or overwhelmed.
I remind say to myself  “Self, you’re the same person who negotiated a lease in a second language. You slept on the floor of a ferry to get to Italy and teach at a summer camp.  You rebuilt your life from scratch – and the second version is way, way, waaaaay better.  This thing?  This.ain’t.shit.  You got this.”
We’ve all got those cornerstones of awesome.  Those amazing/hard/crazy things we’ve accomplished that we can look back on it wonder.
Next time you’re feeling less-than, look back at your awesome and remind yourself that if you can do THAT?  You can totally, totally do THIS.
What are your cornerstones of awesome?  Where can you draw inspiration from yourself?

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  1. Sarah Rickerd

    I buried a baby and came out more alive on the other side. Not exactly a cornerstone of "awesome," but there's absolutely nothing I can't do after that.

  2. Tamber

    Needed this today. Thanks. 🙂

  3. Sarah

    Great post! I've gotten into the habit of telling myself I'm awesome on a daily basis. It seemed silly at first but it helps to remind myself that i can do anything.

  4. Manda

    I needed this today. Going through a big time of ~change and upheaval~ right now, the kind where I have a feeling I'll look back and be like "and that was when everything changed." Just gotta make sure all the changes are for the better!! 😀

  5. Temmy

    Just I have always hustled my way out of everything. I completed a Masters degree in India while heavily pregnant. I got this one too.

  6. Creole Wisdom

    I'm pretty much in awe of that list of yours. And, I know many of those things- okay, all of them- wouldn't be right for me. We all have our own ways of living bravely. I'd say the bravest things I've done are: breaking up with each boyfriend who wasn't right for me– all of them were hard decisions especially from the girl who wants more than anything to be married (but to the right man), choosing a creative career- I had to make this decision quickly when a once-in-a-lifetime chance was offered to me and choosing to live alone. All have blessed me in more ways than I can imagine. Living bravely is scary, but it's authentic and I'll choose authentic over malcontent (great word!) any day.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Dude, breaking up with people is The Hardest. The last time I broke up with a guy it took me a month to work up to it and I rewarded myself with a nice purse.

  7. New Wave Domesticity

    This is a super awesome post & I needed it right this moment. Thank you so much for writing it. Your stories (and the comments) also remind me that other people can do amazing stuff and that means that I can too, I think my corner stones of awesome are obtaining a job that I thought I really really wanted and then realizing it wasn't right and being ok with leaving and taking a massive cut in pay to do something that feels more meaningful. When I was 18, I picked up my things and moved 3,000 miles from everything I knew to fall in love with a new city. I also think growing up in a chaotic household with a paranoid schizophrenic father and then facing my own demons to control my bipolar disorder was petty awesome. I'm optimistic that there will be some other pretty awesome things in the future, <3 Thanks again!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! All of that is suuuuper impressive! Go you!

  8. Lauren

    I've taken a 50 hour train ride alone across India. I've arrived at a small Vietnamese town at 2am and no hotels were open AND did not die, AND did not sleep on the beach, AND did not get robbed. I moved across the country without knowing a soul because I had a "feeling". I branched out and started my own (slowly building, slowly moving, but YES my very own) hybrid business of freelance writing and event planning. I gave Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (wrong) directions to their hotel suite. UNSTOPPABLE!

  9. Samantha Murch

    Thank you Sarah!! I spent most of yesterday planning my finances a year out, paycheck by paycheck. I am tired of living paycheck *to* paycheck, and I want to pay off my debt and afford to go to school. The first four months or so are very nearly planned to the last cent, and I'm a little nervous, but it was so exciting to see how much easier it gets after that. I know your post is about looking back on your awesome accomplishments – I know finishing this plan will be one of mine. 🙂

  10. Corin

    I've had a job interview in a foreign language by cell phone (so, without the helpful hand gestures that I generally used to get by) while on a train AND got the job.
    I totaled my car in a super-scary car accident and then lost my job the next day, leaving me with no transportation and no steady income for nearly a year.
    I once had my heart broken in the most terrible fashion I could imagine and then had my house robbed ON MY BIRTHDAY.
    And I managed to get through all of it. Thanks for the reminder to remember my bad-ass moments in life when the little things start to get to me.

  11. The Lea of Old Virginia

    I'm another one who needed this today, so thank you! After my parents lost their jobs and our house while I was away at school, I dropped out of college, pulled together what little cash I had stashed away and moved to another state with a couple of friends who needed a fresh start. We lived in a run-down hotel room, shared a car, and worked 55-75 hour weeks at minimum wage jobs until we could get together the money for an apartment. It took awhile to get back on my feet, but I did and will finally graduate college in December.

  12. mel

    Oh wow I don't have any amazing stories at all, I'm more of a homebody who is afraid to leave the house most days. So most of the things that amaze myself are considered totally normal to everyone else!

    Maybe I just have spectacularly low self worth but these things still amaze me for some reason (reverse chronological):
    – I somehow got my driver's license and own my own place (2 things I thought were impossible)
    – I lived in a horrible DIY basement suite with backwards plumbing and wiring, sharing bills with drug addict neighbours who paid us frequent night visits (but never the bill), with no heat or locks on the door and broken windows for no reason other than building character. And it had in-suite laundry, a rarity!
    – I rejected the hell out of a bad job during an interview in which I looked amazing, and somehow got parental support for that decision…
    – In high school I did try outs for a hip hop team in front of a crowd, alone, even though I couldn't really dance (and got accepted obviously lol)

    • Corin

      Homebody or not, trying out for the hip hop team in front of a crowd?!? There's no way I could do that! You are so awesome!

  13. Akirah

    I survived four years of an abusive relationship and use the experience to inspire the work I do today.

    Thanks. Some times I lose sight of that.

  14. Alisha - the.wineglass.manifesto

    I applied for a course in Wellington that would mean leaving Melbourne, my apartment, my friends, and my very highly-paid job in a different industry that I felt safe in. When I got the email that I'd been accepted, I screamed and jumped up and down and have never felt so happy. I told myself that that is my marker for how I am meant to feel when good things happen, and have never looked back!

  15. worthcommenting

    wonderful again. it is very inspiring when someone writes as well as you.

  16. Katy

    Wonderful post!

    Personally, I don't know how me/my family have made it through the past year. In February 2012, my abusive father of 20 years abandoned me, my mom, and sister in $60,000 debt. We were kicked out of our renting lease by an abusive landlord and signed a lease with another abusive landlord who foreclosed on the house a week after we moved in. My mom, sister, myself, and our two pets were almost homeless this summer after our lease was up. During all of this my sister and I traveled two hours to our local college campus three days a week. SOMEHOW this past summer two people found us in our local community after hearing our story and we have been renting stress-free (after ten years of abusive landlords and no help with legal restitution from any lawyers) for the past four months.

    Through some grace or universal power, or maybe my own corner of awesome, we go through it. 🙂

  17. Steph G

    Love this post. Great reminders! Sometimes we forget the big stuff we've come out of when we're sweating the smaller stuff.

  18. EleanorJune

    I love this!
    I lived through 14 months of an abusive relationship, then moved across the country to start over, working with at-risk kids in a title one elementary school.
    I lived in a tipi for 9 months while working 11 hour farm days on an organic farm.
    I homebirthed my baby in just 6 hours.
    I lived in a tipi for four months as a single mom working every day, not knowing what would come next, trusting the universe. Then I bought my first home with help from my folks, mining my tiny savings, and fundraising for myself!
    This year I've taught myself the ukelele and am writing my own songs.
    We are all so creative and powerful and it's important to CELEBRATE THIS!
    Thanks for sharing everyone!

  19. Angie

    This is awesome, and very much appreciated! Thank you!

  20. vanessa

    I love this. It's a really powerful reminder. I needed to see this right now. As I think about my struggles with finances, finishing up my degree, dealing with the holidays after the death of a loved one, & navigating life in my early twenties it's good to know that I got this.

    At 18, I moved from my teeny tiny town for the first time, 2,000 miles away in a fairly big city to go to college.

    At 19, I left an incredibly destructive relationship, moved back home & decided to take a year off of school to rebuild my life. Later that year, I decided to finally seek treatment for PTSD.

    At 20, I went back to school in my home state & began to accept my bipolar diagnosis & make amazing progress with my treatment plan.

    Thanks for sharing y'all! It's so encouraging to see what y'all have managed to do & overcome. We all got this shit.

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