The 52 Lists Project: Week 11: Accomplishments

When someone asks you to lists your accomplishments it’s hard not to jump straight into ‘job interview mode’ and start talking about how your time on the Duke of Edinburgh in year 9 really enhanced your people skills and helped you become a leader who also values teamwork.

I got around this by instead asking myself, what have I done that I’m proud of? Asking it this way helped me to move away from the ‘corporate’ accomplishments and into a more personal area, allowing me to look at the things I’ve achieved that may not go on my CV.


1. 2:1 in English Language and Literature from Lancaster University

University was an amazing experience. It was also difficult and confusing and in, the end, it taught me a lot more than the syllabus. I learned about my commitments, compromise and about people. I made some lifelong friends (Cupcakes, I’m looking at you girls!) and I also met some people who I thought would be lifelong friends but didn’t end up being.

While I still kick myself for not getting a First, I’m amazed that I even got to finish uni at all while working 2 jobs and surviving a toxic relationship. It’s safe to say that I accomplished so much more than just a certificate!

2. Climbed the 3333 Steps in Misato, Japan

3333 steps doesn’t sound as many as it feels. Trust me.

But I did it! I also made another eternal friend on this trip too, my Illinoisan Legolas!

Misato, Japan

3. Read Les Misérables

You might recognise this book from my last post on favourite books. Have a read of that post to find out why it made the list!

4. Losing Weight and Gaining Strength with the Golden Triangle

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the Golden Triangle, eh? Bet you thought I’d given up didn’t you? Wrong-o! The Golden Triangle is still going strong and motivating me every day and if you’d like an update, just let me know!

For those who don’t know about the Golden Triangle, it’s a fitness programme that I created when I was in Japan. It involves three daily goals: 10,000 steps, 10 minutes cardio and 10 minutes of training. I’d recommend having a look over some of my Golden Triangle posts, who knows, you might want to try it out yourself.

While I’m, of course, proud of the weight that I’ve lost I’m prouder still of the strength that I’ve gained with this programme. My body feels stronger and more capable and I feel mentally stronger too, proving to myself that I can be consistent and make changes for the better!

5. Having a Lifelong Best Friend

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. We’ve been through so much, both in our own lives and together. From playing ‘house’ with toy animals to binging The Sims every weekend to binging on Ru Paul, we’ve blossomed together in the weirdest and most wonderful way! I’m so grateful to have you as a friend and support system.

Ya beauty!

6. Surviving in Customer Service

This one is harder than it sounds.

Being scolded by old men in the chippy for putting the wrong curry sauce on their chips, despite you describing the differences between Chinese curry and English curry (The Chinese curry is smooth and quite spicy, the English is the fruity one!) isn’t fun. Neither is being stabbed by a discarded needle when cleaning a hotel room or cleaning poo off the floor.

It isn’t fun, but it is enlightening and pedagogic.

I learned a lot during my time in customer services and I was inspired by the strength of the women I worked with. They always had so much going on in their lives but didn’t let it hinder their work and they were never afraid to say how they were feeling, to anyone! Their power inspired me so much.

People often say look at how someone treats the waiter before you date them, but I say, ask if they’ve ever worked in customer service. For me, it’s essential in making a well-rounded person.

7. Living Alone

Living alone is one thing that many people fear. It drives a lot of singletons into rushed and sometimes unhappy relationships. I get it. I had that fear too once, before I packed up and lived up a mountain of course!

Now living alone is something that I value.

I love the space that you can create for yourself, it’s a space that you can grow into. Independence, emotional regulation, motivation and resilience all grew stronger from living alone. On days when I didn’t want to cook, no-one was there to cook for me and there were no takeaways, so I had to cook. On days when I felt lonely I reached out to people and on days when I wanted my own space, it was waiting for me with open arms.

8. Yōkina Living

I’ve been writing this blog for 3 years now- how time flies!

It started as a little pet project to boost my chances of joining the JET Programme, but blossomed into a self-made sanctuary!

I’m proud that I’ve managed to contribute to this blog for so long, and I’m only getting better! I’ve been writing consistently, every week, for the past 3-4 months and I’m quite chuffed with myself.

The blog has been able to help people, to motivate people and to help people feel supported. That’s why I keep writing and I hope that I keep helping you guys out, in whatever way I can.

9. Staying Vegetarian

How long have I been veggie? 8 years! And it hasn’t been easy.

I loved eating meat before I went veggie- duck, lamb, gammon, chicken, turkey, beef, pork… like I wasn’t just a chicken Caeser salad kinda gal. This meant that decided to go veggie was a difficult decision and there are still days when I want to cave in!

On those days though, I remember why I went veggie in the first place and I remember all of the amazing, delicious veggie food out there too!

Haruka’s food in Sanpo Cafe, made it easy to be vegetarian!

10. Starting a Masters

One of the first things to do when I got back to Japan was to get geared up and ready to start my masters. I’m back at Lancaster University studying English Language and Literary Studies and it’s so interesting! I’m proud of myself for plucking up the courage to go back to academia. If I didn’t do it this year I knew it would be difficult to go back and do it at all.

11. Walking Charlie Everyday

*Almost* everyday since Charlie has been naughty this week!

12. Keeping up Japanese Study

Another point for consistency! Aiming to studying for 30 minutes a day has gotten me to level 7 on Wani Kani. The only way is up!

13. Working as a Teacher Alongside Studying

Who knew teaching and studying could be so difficult? Definitely not me before I started doing it!

Managing lesson planning, marking, uni readings and essay writing alongside checking emails from students and logging out and then back into Outlook to check emails from tutors- it’s a lot of work.

Honestly, I’m still struggling to find a balance and my stress levels are creeping up and up and up! I’m managing for now though and I just need to take my own advice and time management tips to get back on track!

Liverpool, UK

14. Completing Demo Classes to Dozens of Japanese Teachers

I got to Japan in August of 2018 and by February 2019 I was showcasing a lesson in the area’s biggest demo class in 2 years with another teacher. I was relatively unphased by it, despite the hundreds of eyes watching me (and a video camera lens) and I was able to get through and get some really good feedback on the class.

No excuses for public speaking nerves anymore!

15. Extra Writing Projects

Since college I’ve been looking for opportunities to write. It started in the Winstanley Waffle where I wrote about easy recipes to cook and Christmas films to watch. After college I joined Her Campus in uni and went from writer to writer and editor in just one year. After staying with Her Campus for my full three years I headed to Japan with my blog as the main output of writing.

While in Japan I took on some extra writing projects, contributing every season to the Kumamoto JETs magazine (my area’s magazine for people on my programmes) YOKA, a wider magazine for ex-pats in Japan called Connect as well as contributing a small piece to the Japan Times!

Since coming home I’ve recently been asked to contribute to Connect’s Winter edition, which is coming out soon! Make sure to give it a read!

16. Uni Readings

Something that I struggled with as an undergrad was getting all of my readings completed. Now, I can proudly say that every week, I’ve managed to complete all or at least 90% of the readings!

17. Handling Difficult Situations with Dignity

18. Being Able to Ride the Train AloneTaking Solo Trips

This one seems weird, right? I’m chatting about completing a massive demo class in Japan after leaving my country and flying away to live alone in the woods, but a solo train ride is terrifying?

Yup. And if I hadn’t overcome this fear, I don’t think my life in Japan would have happened.

In my 1st year of university I was very anxious. I was trying to keep up with readings, getting used to my new life and travelling home for work and relationship. The difficulty was that I would get really panicked. What if I got on the wrong train? What if I missed the train, or it came early? Then, when I got on the train, what if there were no seats, or the only seat was right next to someone and I took up too much space? Would people hear the music on my headphones? Where the headphones even properly connected?

I remember calling my mum once, really stressed out and upset at the station. She chatted to me and got me on the train and talked to me all the way home.

With her consistent help, as I panic-called her more than once, I was able to crack on, overcome this anxiety and come to enjoy train rides which would soon become solo plain rides and eventually become solo living in another country. Thank you mum, for helping me overcome something that at the time felt like an undefeatable obstacle.

21. Home-Cooking > Takeaways

Home-cooked is always best!

Cooked by yours truly!

22. Taking Care of my Mental Health

23. Saving Money

Managing to save up some money in Japan has helped me a lot coming back to the UK. It was a safety net to help the transition and those dreaded first weeks of coming back and not having a job, during COVID times. The struggle, and the anxiety, was REAL.

24. Living in Japan

Mt Takayama, Japan

25. Crafting a Rugby Ball out of Paper

This is harder than you would think! The things you do for English Camp…

26. Cut Fizzy Drinks

I decided to cut fizzy drinks out when Ste left Japan early this year, I think it was in March. I just decided that the last few months in my lovely rural home would be spent getting healthier and cutting out fizzy drinks was one way to do that.

I still don’t drink them now and instead I drink a LOT of water, green tea in the morning and the occasional smoothie or apple juice if I’m feeling fancy.

27. Went to the Dentist

I know I’m not alone in my fear of the dentist. I also know that I’m not the only one who avoids the dentist because of that fear! I used to have this random recurring fear that all of my teeth were about to fall out, maybe I’m alone on that one?

Luckily for me, one of my adult English students in Japan, well, actually two, happened to be dentists! They helped me overcome my fear and I managed to go to the dentist, multiple times, and came to enjoy the time just sitting there chilling out while they worked on my teeth.

28. Honesty

Another continuous accomplishment of mine is my honesty. I’m always honest, even when it’s difficult to be and I’m proud of that.

29. Visited Every Prefecture on Kyushu in a Kei Car

Tofu-san, my loyal steed, carried me all over my southern Japanese island. South to Kagoshima to see friends, west to Nagasaki, north to Fukuoka, Oita and Saga and east to Miyazaki where I drove all the way down the coast till I hit Cape Toi, famous for wild horses!

Asagiri, Japan

One thing that this list made me realise is that accomplishments take time and that every day you work towards them counts as an accomplishment too.

Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t feel that you’ve accomplished much today. Every day that you’re alive is an accomplishment and there’s no way of knowing how much good your existence alone is doing to the world.

Stay Positive,


Jess x

Feature Image from Unsplash

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