Reminder: You can be inspiring just by being yourself

You don't have to climb Mount Everest, donate a kidney, or write a bestselling novel to inspire someone. Being who you are is enough. Here's why >>
This is the real, true story of how my best friend and I fell in love with a middle-aged couple in Mexico.

Okay, maybe ‘love’ isn’t the right term. Maybe it’s more accurate to say we fell in adoration with them or we were completely overcome with life-envy. Or maybe we just wanted to grow up to be them.

This is how deep our love ran: After we parted ways with this couple, we spent the next 20 minutes discussing them in Awed Tones.

“Like, how do you get to be like that? How do you keep being so cool and interesting? For, like, your whole life? I’m on track to melt into my couch by the time I’m 55.”
“Did you see his glasses? THEY WERE SO COOL.”
“And did you hear her just casually mention how they’d backpacked around India for a month last year?”
“Yes! Also, I think I only want to wear linen tunics now.”

The objects of our affection were a middle-aged couple from Maine we met on a house tour in Merida, Mexico. He was a self-employed graphic designer who wore tortoise shell glasses, took notes in a moleskin, and had turned their garden shed into a design studio. She was an educational director who nurtured award-winning flower gardens, hosted big dinner parties for artsy friends, and spearheaded their trips all over the dang world. (She also wore linen tunics like nobody’s business.)

This couple wasn’t wandering around, hoping to Inspire People. They didn’t look deep into our eyes and impart their wisdom. They didn’t hand off a dog-eared copy of WaldenThey were just two creative, interesting people, inadvertently reminding us that fun and adventure don’t have to stop when you’re 55 with a mortgage and a Super Serious Career.

Totally unbeknownst to them, through no effort on their part, they inspired us to be better versions of ourselves.

Which made me think about the people I find inspiring. Of course, I’m inspired by my friends who win Jeopardy or run marathons, but I’m also inspired by the friend who speaks with grace and diplomacy about her (horrible) ex-husband.

I’m inspired by the friend who loudly, vocally loves WWF and the friend who volunteers with inmates.

None of these people are trying to be inspirational, but by being who they are and doing what they love – they are.

You don't need to climb Mount Everest to inspire someone. Being who you are is enough. Click To Tweet

You never know who’s reading your Facebook updates and thinking “Wow, she really gives me hope that I can figure this out.” You never know who’s listening to your dinner party story and thinking “You know what? I want to do that, too. This is the nudge I need.”

This very moment, you might be accidentally inspiring people to:

But we can’t be inspired by you if you don’t show us who you are. If you’re looking for a push to share the thing you’re excited about or start an important conversation or just post more photos on Instagram – this is it. You’re doing amazing things. We want to know about them.

Who are are you quietly inspired by? Has anyone ever surprised you by saying you’re inspiring?

P.S. Life has big plans for you.

photo credit: pineapples // cc

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  1. darcie

    here’s one instance where I’m glad I talked to strangers in public, they were so fun. ((who am i, making conversations in line at the airport?))

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! I’m so glad you did! And I’m so glad we ran into them again!

  2. Frannie

    I’m inspired by reading this blog! U both inspire me and I hope I inspire u two, too!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Hugs all arouuuund! <3

  3. Kate

    Ahh, I love this. (This is my default comment on your blog, it seems.) You are so right about the “you might be inspiring someone.” I’m 33 and single, and while I hope that maybe someday I’ll meet someone and get married, I’m okay if that doesn’t happen. More specifically, I think my life will be wonderful if I remain single. And a huge reason for that is the fact that my parents’ long-time friend Linda is single and in her 70s, and I’ve grown up watching her live a fantastic life. She travels, owns her own fabulous home, has a wonderful group of friends (mostly couples) who love her and support her, she owns her own business, and volunteers in her community. It’s been inspiring to see what a life can be if it doesn’t follow the “married with kids and a dog” route.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! It’s so nice to see ‘evidence’ that something we want is possible! And I’m sure Linda isn’t going around trying to be Inspirational, she’s just being her awesome self!

    • zoe

      This made me think of how various awesome older single ladies have unintentionally inspired me to not take crap from boys — even when I was in my early 20s, the peak putting-up-with-crap-from-boys age! — because I realized that a potential boyfriend would have to be pretty amazing to be better than the life they showed me I could have without a partner.

      • Sarah Von Bargen

        Yes! <3

  4. Lisa

    This is such a cool post. There is nothing more inspiring than those who are true to themselves. When we recognise that in others we give ourselves permission to do the same. (having a philosophical Friday moment over here!!)

  5. Johnna LaFaith

    I just found your blog (thanks bloglovin’) and I love what you’re doing here. I enjoyed this article so much. When I think of the people that have inspired my life and my thinking it has really and truly ALWAYS been the most genuine and most sincerely themselves people. Sometimes it’s even just the fact that they shared a quote that rocks you to your core… I don’t know… I just get what you’re saying and LOVE that you took the time to say it.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Thanks so much for reading, Johnna!

  6. Kristen

    ::mwah:: You know I love you.

  7. Marisa

    I’ve been weirdly hanging onto this in my RSS reader instead of just reading it, but I’m glad I did. So true! I’m not sure what I’m inspiring my friends to do, but I get inspired by other people’s lives all the time—one reason I love reading personal and lifestyle blogs!


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