The grand realization that I am, in fact, a badass

June 6, 2015 Jessie
I met Jen Sincero, author of You Are A Badass, at UtopYA Con in 2013. I never did read the book.

See how different I look, almost 2 years later.

This morning I woke up and realized I’m kind of a badass. Scratch that, not kind of.

I am a total badass.

The world is my oyster. I have walked through fire and come out the other side glittering like a phoenix. I am tested and tried and equal to any challenge that comes my way. The amazing thing about going through something truly difficult is the discovery that, in the end, it didn’t scar or harden me, and it definitely didn’t break me. It only strengthened me.

Honestly I’ve never faltered too far in terms of self-esteem. Even when I was so depressed I was thinking about suicide, I could find good things about myself, both in the mirror and in the heart. I’ve never been a defeatist, never thought I was a born failure.

But now I have proof.


Moving abroad really put it into perspective. In the States I was actually quite successful for a kid in her late 20s. 2200 square foot house, cars, pool, 7-year cushy job, large circle of friends, decent salary and savings. Outwardly perfect marriage. I had built the picture-perfect American Dream.
My old house… not too shabby for a 29 year old.

And when that shattered, I decided to do something totally insane. In moving abroad, I proved to myself many things.

I am my best healer. Let me repeat that. I am my best healer. I did not rush into the arms of any one of the eager suitors who came crawling out of the woodwork when my divorce became public. (Though it was flattering.) Nor did I saddle myself to any of the amorous admirers I met in Latin America. I remained alone. Even when it was lonely, even when my heart felt like it expanded into an infinitely empty universe and I was tempted to seek comfort and settle for someone who was not worthy… I didn’t.

I moved with intentionality into the land of solitude. It was a rocky road, I’ll tell you. As an outgoing introvert, I live in my head a LOT, but I also enjoy social interaction. I’m an INTJ in the Meyers-Briggs scale, to a tee, and that means I live very much inside my head. Being alone took some getting used to; it’s very loud in this cranium of mine, and it never stops.

But now I know that being alone is actually the way I recharge myself. The way I focus myself. The way I heal my hurts and tend my exhaustions. The way I process and adapt to change. Nothing in my life has been more valuable than this one simple lesson. I know that no matter where I am, no matter who is around me, no matter how little or how much support I have, I’ll be okay. Better than okay.

I will succeed in any endeavor I take on.

What a powerful thing to know!

I can drag myself to a hospital in a foreign city with a burning fever. I can survive a 6-hour public bus ride with food poisoning causing me to vomit repeatedly out the window. I go on hikes through the countryside, cross dilapidated bridges without safety equipment, rappel down waterfalls, snorkel alone on a beach known for thieves, and generally approach life with fearlessness.

I can negotiate housing in a tongue other than my mother tongue. I can be truly, madly happy with very, very few material possessions. I can be 100% responsible for myself with zero help at home.

I can stand up to lewd catcallers, or I can confidently ignore them.

I can handle a coworker who is vicious and furious all the time, exactly like my ex in many ways, with a cool head and calm words (even if I still get fight-or-flight responses dealing with him).

I can learn a new city, with a new bus system, new currency, new language, and new cultural intricacies… and do pretty well.

I can continue chasing the dream of being a writer, despite being busy all the time.

I can make friends anywhere. Awesome friends.

I can find a good job anywhere. I can take on an amazing amount of professional responsibility. I can become “indispensible” in my boss’s words in less than 2 years.

I can lose 35 + pounds and get to a size I haven’t seen since before university.

I can confidently walk away from someone who hurts me or is not good for me. I can close painful chapters without explosives and melodramatics.

I can go with the flow. I can change my mind a hundred times depending on new information. I no longer see that as weak or indecisive.

I can also stick to my guns and not stand down no matter what… and discern when the battle is a hill worth dying on.

People have noticed, too. I’ve been collecting an odd assortment of quotes about me. Things people have said to me lately that made me smile. Words that I have wrapped up with ribbon and tucked away in my heart to take out on a bad day and warm me up.

  • “Eres hecho de oro.” (You are made of gold.)
  • “You are an amazing person. Like pure sunshine in human form.” 
  • “Con mi hermosa amiga Jess ya un año de conocernos, que rápido pasa el tiempo, gracias por todos los momentos felices que hemos pasado.” (With my beautiful friend Jess, now a year of knowing each other, how quickly the time passes. Thank you for all the happy times/moments we have had.) 
  • “You would make the perfect sister. Outgoing, big hearted, and courageous.” 
  • “Me alegra que eres rara como yo.” (I’m glad you’re weird like me.) 
  • “Just wanted to say I think about you a lot but never more than on days I hear Sober!” (A reference to a Tool song.) 
  • “I can’t tell you how much more beautiful you look every time I see a picture of you. It is something radiating from within. Everyone likes to think that they are special or different or some other kind of BS just to feel their ego and then there are those few that ARE special, different and stand out in a crowd, that is you. You do not lead or follow, you just ‘go’ your own way. I envy the way you live your life…it is quite wonderful.” 
  • “I wouldn’t have survived last year without you. But not just that. You coming into my life made last year a fucken rad year.” 
  • “People love you in many places. You have excuses to smile.” 
  • “You inspire me so much and I value your personal character and perspective incredibly.” 
  • “Tienes un muy fuerte voluntad.” (You have a very strong will.) 
  • “You looked great in November and now you’re just plain hot! It is wonderful to see you happy and healthy again.” 
  • “Our realities are worlds apart even though our spirits are so close. You are an awesome friend.”
  • “I think you are aging backward down there.” 

Would I have made this personal journey without moving abroad? I don’t know. What I do know is this: Costa Rica has been very, very good to me.

Solo travel gave me the space to spread my wings and set my dreams free.

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
– Edgar Allan Poe