College

You’re More Capable Than You Think

Do you ever look back and try to pin point defining moments? For me, I find that more often than not, my defining moments aren’t really monumental at all. However, they are major learning experiences. 
One of these defining moments was when I moved out of my freshman dorm. Because of a crew regatta, I had stayed an extra week at school so everyone in my dorm had already moved out. It was pretty amazing to have the entire floor to myself… until I went to move out. All of my boxes were packed and the plan was to bring the boxes to the UPS store located across the street from campus to ship them to my house in Florida, spend one night in the dorm, and leave bright and early for the airport. The only problem, which turned out to be a major problem, was that I was all alone and couldn’t figure out how to get the boxes from my dorm to the UPS store. Luckily, a sweet custodian helped me get the boxes into a small cart… but from there I was on my own.
To paint a picture, my dorm was towards the back of campus and at the bottom of the hill. As I stood in the door frame of my dorm room, tears were just pouring out of my eyes because I could not figure out how in the world I was going to get this extremely heavy cart all the way to the UPS store by myself. It would have been hard with three people helping, let alone just me. All I wanted was a car. (This was way pre-Uber and I wasn’t old enough to rent a car.) Oh, did I mention that the UPS store was planning on closing early that day since school was out of session? I had one hour to get there. 
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Long story short, I ended up pushing the cart up that steep hill, huffing and puffing it one inch at a time. Somehow, I miraculously got that cart up. (My Blackberry fell onto the ground and I had no choice but to leave it there because I couldn’t bend over to pick it up without the cart tumbling all the way down. A random stranger picked it up and I got it from his apartment at 11pm that night when he got off his shift. Can’t make this up.)
After I got those boxes checked into the UPS store, five minutes before they closed, and therefore completing what I had (only two hours before) deemed thoroughly impossible, I realized I was capable of doing a lot more than I thought I could.



I’ve carried that memory with me. When I had a project I didn’t know if I could do, when I didn’t think I could complete a work assignment, when I was stressed about making a mistake filing my taxes… I would remind myself that I made it up that hill on that hot summer day.
I swear, figuring out that I have more in me than I think has pushed me to become a better worker, a better person.
I loved the job I had out of college. I was really challenged pretty much every day to go out of my comfort zone. 99% of the time, I had no idea what I was doing… I’d remind myself about the hill and cart and then figure out how to get it done. I’d ask for help only if I truly couldn’t figure it out on my own. It might have taken me a little bit longer than if I had just asked, but then I knew exactly how to do it the next time without help and I could take on a bigger project or task next. Talk about serious growth.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask questions before they’ve even given themselves a shot. Because of my age, I kind of turned into the person who answered other people’s questions at work if they were too afraid to ask their manager. Not only did it disrupt my work constantly, the person who would ask a question wasn’t even giving themselves a chance to succeed. 
A favorite trick of mine to do when someone asks a question is to flip the question. Here’s an example. I often get asked for advice on how to improve their blog. I like to start by asking, “What areas do you think you could improve?” The person almost always rattles off a list of things: I could write more original content, I could take better photos, I could redo my design, etc. Those are all the things I would suggest! She knew the answer all along. 
Don’t wait for someone else to rescue you (and your cart of heavy boxes). Don’t cheat yourself the opportunity for growth by asking someone else for the answer.
Trust yourself, push yourself. You’re more capable than you think.


xoxo
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29 Comments

Annie

This post could not have come at a more perfect time! It is currently midterm week (and reading your blog is my form of procrastination) and I am beyond stressed for these next two days. I often forget how much I've gone through to get to this point and reminding myself that if I can accomplish getting into school, moving across the country, etc., then three big exams and one paper are a piece of cake. I love the line, "I am capable more than I think I am."

Definitely the pick me up I needed before my midterms:)
Annie Belle

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Southwestern Prepster

Amazing post, and like Annie mentioned, you could not have posted this at a better time! I have been so stressed over midterms, papers, my internship, networking, getting more involved on campus, etc. that I've been finding myself quite frequently asking myself "Is it really worth it?" or "Can I really do this?" It can be really hard to stay motivated and encouraging posts like these are great in those moments! Thanks so much, Carly!
xx, Mikkaela
The Southwestern Prepster

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Cville to DC

Love this post! It is very true, I have been lucky enough to have two solid business jobs since graduating from college and I think they have pushed me to be "thrown into the deep end" and learn how to become a proverbial swimmer without relying on others around me. I giggled at the taxes mistake thing because I feared the same thing myself this year!

xoxo Ash

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Renee

Really love this post Carly! Just gave me the inspiration I needed to tackle a huge paper for school.

Renee // gimmeglamour.blogspot.com

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Sarah Williamson

I really needed this today! I am working at a non-profit that hired me to build their marketing plan, and it's incredibly challenging work, it's not the hardest thing I've ever done. I remind myself of my own "hills" I've climbed in the past and it helps me push through!

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Amy Marie

You always write about the best life lessons! In two weeks I start grad school and a new full time job on the same day – it's going to feel like I am pushing a big cart up a hill for a while… Thanks for sharing Carly 🙂

Amy

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Alexandra

This is an amazing story and post! I had a similar experience moving out my senior year – all alone and in the middle of the night and realized in that moment I can rely on myself and that a theme is loving myself, caring for myself, and not relying on others. It definitely makes me stronger and makes me stand out!

Warm Regards,
Alexandra
http://www.littlewildheart.com

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Julia D.

More posts like this please!

Similar to you, I have mantras and "defining moments" that I go back to when I remind myself that I can do hard things (one is to actually say "I can do hard things). One of my absolute favourites is one I've had since grade four or five and it is: "I've done it before and I can and will do it again." It never fails me, because even if it is something I actually haven't done before it reminds me I've done something equally as difficult before and made it through.

As for you turning improvement questions on their heads, I do a lot of facilitating workshops and mentoring and that is actually one of the tricks I use. I've noticed that women tend to do it more as a result of (what I attribute to) internalized sexism that makes women feel less confident or prepared to do a task. It's a really interesting thing to recognize and try to combat.

Enough of my rambling though. Thanks for the great post!

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Olivia Stieren

Thank you for this post!! I get discouraged easily and can get into the pattern of thinking something will be too hard to do, thefore putting off that task. Like you said, we are SO much more capable of overcoming challenges then we think. I have to remind myself that frequently, and I love your insight.

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Caroline

Such a great post, Carly, thank you for sharing your insights! I have a similar story where I was pushing a much heavier load than I ever thought possible to push up this incline in Heathrow Airport, when I was already at an emotional low. I just about passed out, but it felt pretty insanely satisfying an hour later when I was sitting at my gate, knowing that I could do what I never expected myself to.

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Morgan Hassell

I love how encouraging you are to your readers! Between your little rays of sunshine and Maxie Mondays, I always feel like I can conquer anything. Thanks for sharing, as always!

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CoffeeDancer

That is a great story! I've been having those moments lately in my life that just seems impossible to move forward, thanks for sharing that story it reminded me to focus on each step at a time.
Courtney from Coffee Dancer

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