Welcome to the GRIT formula interview series!

We created this space for girls and women to get REAL and share their “gritty moments”.

Meet Meredith Roberston

Meredith Robertson is a senior at Middlebury College, where she is majoring in English Literature. She is passionate about the environment, poetry, and inspiriting others. Working with her mom Pam, she has co-founded the company Meredith’s Jars of Joy, selling jars of inspirational quotes across the globe. Her goal is to continue to set an example for young girls, and to help remind others the ways to find joy in unexpected places.

Tell us about a GRITTY MOMENT in your life that has forced you to learn what you are truly made of…
When I was transitioning into high school I found myself in the midst of a really rough patch – my best friend and I grew apart and I was suddenly navigating both my sadness and high school at the same time. Instead of feeling full of sunshine and joy, I was quieter. It was harder for me to pick out and recognize all the good things around me.
GUTS: How did you “grow guts” and be brave enough to get through your “gritty moment”? Were you afraid? Where did you find your courage? How did facing that moment affect your confidence? Did you feel more confident afterward?
After seeing me act so unlike my usual self, my mom got involved. She put a big bowl of quotes on my desk and asked me to pick one from it every morning. Initially, I gave that a big, fat NO. I didn’t want to admit to anyone, or myself, that I wasn’t doing as well as I could be and that I needed a little extra support. My “guts” in this situation came into play when I decided to pick a quote from the bowl, and opened myself up to the idea that a little extra help is a good thing, and doesn’t mean you’re not strong. After I picked the first quote, my entire world changed. I remember reading words of wisdom that so accurately applied to my situation, that I felt like some sort of magic had to be involved. The next day, the same thing happened. After a whole year my walls were covered with those slips of paper and I carried them around in my pockets. During this time, I used the daily words of great thinkers and poets to remind myself of resilience, patience, and joy.
RESILIENCE: What did you learn from pushing through your “gritty moment”? What helped you “not give up” and persevere?
I spent a year picking quotes in secrecy (still afraid that other people would judge me if they knew I needed this support system), until the winter of my sophomore year. During class, someone opened my phone-case – where I had been hiding my very favorite quotes – and they all came fluttering to the ground. At first, I was absolutely horrified. To my surprise though, the reaction I got was not confusion, but curiosity. Instead of teasing me for my quote obsession, a few classmates nudged me to tell my story and ultimately asked for quotes of their own. A few days later, people were stopping me in the halls and asking for their very own jars. At first it was surprising to me that a lot of these requests came from people who looked like they had everything going for them…But I’m sure that’s how I seemed from the outside too. What I learned during this time was that everybody needs extra love and support, and that nobody really has a picture-perfect life. Here, my resilience and my willingness to open and be vulnerable gave others space to do the same.
IMPERFECTION: How do you deal with failure and making mistakes? Did your “gritty moment” force you to learn and grow?
In the trenches of my sad time, I remember wanting to trade my situation for anything else in the world. A few years later, I look back and am abundantly thankful for what I went through. Even though it was hard to move myself out of stagnant emotions (Ohh, it took grit and strength and the willingness to push through fears) I am ME now, because of it. And, after seeing how incredibly received our idea was by kids in my school, my mom and I established the jars as a real business, called Meredith’s Jars of Joy. We now sell our inspirational tools all over the world, and lead workshops to talk about all we have learned. In the end, it was my imperfections and emotions that led me to the real me. Had I never lost track of myself for a second, there would have been no opportunity to find the real me.
TEAM: What role did your support system play in helping you through this challenging time? What role has this “team” had in your life?
My team has grown and changed throughout my life, but my mom has remained a constant support, as a business partner and best friend. Along the way, she has also gifted me space for different mentors in my life – church ladies, neighbors, nutritionists – each of whom played a different role in my growth. I have learned that having friends of all ages is important, because there is a lot of wisdom to be shared.
What advice would you give to your younger “gritty girl self”?
The gritty moments will never stop coming – you must learn tools from everyone around you to dig deep and find joy. There is always joy. Someday you will have jars of it.