You Got This: Keeping It Together Even When You Think You Can't

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

You Got This: Keeping It Together Even When You Think You Can't

Photo Credit: "confidence", Brennen Bearnes,

As some of you noted from my blog last week, the kids were on fall break and out of school for the entire week. When Marlowe came home from school the Friday before, she was excited not just that it was break time but also that she had gotten an opportunity to apply to be a part of the school’s Student Council. In order to do so, she had to write an essay on what it means to be a leader, and she thought she might start to write it while we were in NYC.  She told me it was due this upcoming Friday (the 28th).  I said all versions of “cool!” and “yay!” and then it was off to our NYC trip planning, thoughts of Student Council already fading into the background.

She didn’t work on the essay during our trip, unsurprisingly. But she did work on it this weekend, without prompting, and actually finished a complete draft on Sunday. On Sunday night she showed it to me and asked me what I thought. (PS, I thought it was amazing). We talked through a few opportunities to make it even stronger than it already was, and she jotted down some notes as we were talking before setting it aside for the night.

So yesterday morning, as we were all trying to get back into the swing of a school day morning, I was getting their backpacks organized and ready and happened to pull out of her folder the actual form for Student Council. The form that clearly stated in bold that the essay was, in fact, due yesterday. No late essays accepted.  What happened next went something like this:

Me: “Marlowe! Your essay is due TODAY!”

Mar: “No it’s not! They told us we had till Friday!”, tears immediately welling up in her eyes and panic oozing from her every pore.

Me: “It’s okay! You’ve already written it! You just need to copy it nicely on the actual form!”

Her: “But I have to add all the stuff we talked about last night!!!!!!!!”

Me: “Breathe! You have time to do this! You can do this!”

Her: “No I CAN’T!!!!!!”


Okay, maybe that is not exactly how it went… but we had a back and forth of you can do this/no I can’t before she finally sat down at the table, tears streaming down her face, carefully and meticulous re-writing her essay for the coveted Student Council.  After a few minutes I saw her body start to relax and the tension dissipate… and while her focus was doggedly on the essay and we all knew to keep an arm’s length, her belief that she could, in fact, do it was starting to emerge again. I was watching the clock get closer and closer to the time we had to leave for the bus stop, and checking that against how much more she had to write.  It was going to be close, for sure. She kept writing, and the clock kept ticking.

Literally one second before the alarm I keep on my phone that tells us when it’s time to walk out the door started playing, she wrote her last word. We got it securely in her backpack and hustled on out.

By the time she was out the door, flying to the bus stop on her scooter, she was as light as air.  Maybe even lighter because she felt like a ROCK STAR for tackling, and accomplishing, a task that just 45 minutes earlier had seemed an insurmountable feat. 

First: She believed she absolutely couldn’t, that the forces were working against her, that there was NO WAY to be successful. 

Then: She cried and stomped and fretted over the absolute injustice of it all.

Then: She hunkered down and just took it one word at a time.

Then: She finished.  She did it.

And as a result: She went to school today with her confidence bucket filled to the rim.

I think this will ripple. 

Something else shows up in front of her that makes her say No! or I can’t! or It’s not fair! … well now we have this to remind her that Yes! and You Can! and That Might Be True But You GOT This!

You got this.  

Are you facing anything like this? A task or request that seems completely insurmountable, that there is no way for you to be successful?

Let Marlowe and I be the first to tell you:   You Got This.   

How can you work to “got this” today?


Wings & Whimsy Challenge: Ignite!

I know for me, when things seem hard or it when it feels like I
don't have enough time, or it just seems impossible... well, it
can be very easy to just quit. Or to just say "I'll get it the next
time." But Marlowe's stick-with-it-ness reminded me that
you never know what mountain you can climb if you don't
even put your hand on it. When have you proven to yourself
that you "got this?" Tell me about it in the comments below,
or tweet me @ErikaPetrelli1


Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at   Find all her previous blog posts at



“You Got This: Keeping It Together Even When You Think You Can’t”, The Leadership Program, 2016


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.