6 Life-Changing Realizations I’ve Had During 2019

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There’s only a month left of 2019, and my 23rd birthday is quickly approaching. I’ve had a lot of revelations this year because I am living outside of my comfort zone and experiencing so many differing perspectives. This year, I graduated college, joined Peace Corps, and moved to a Caribbean island. I now know that I don’t have to be who I’ve always been, and I can heal wounds, forgive myself, and move forward. So here are big realizations I’ve had this year:


  1. An eye for an eye (revenge) is not how I’m going to live my lifeWhen someone does me wrong or I get my feelings hurt, I remind myself that it’s not personal; people’s decisions, opinions, and actions are often a reflection of how they feel about themselves or are formed by baggage that they carry. {Whether we choose to be transparent or not, we all have our own hurts, pains, insecurities, and shortcomings that we can either fall victim to or work through and heal; I’m choosing the latter.} When I can forgive and repair, I do it willingly, but there are times when it’s best to forgive, move on, and release the burdensome pressure. I’ve learned it’s best not to have long-term resentment, aggression, or anger towards others, it just hurts more as time passes. All in all, I believe in people and we’re all just doing the best we can, but when we know better, we must choose to do better. When it’s said and done, I know I have the power to remove myself from toxic situations and relationships.

  2. Letting go of things/people that I’ve outgrown has allowed me to spread my wings and recenter my thinking. When I set my mind to something, I invest wholeheartedly, but sometimes, the reality doesn’t match the truth inside my head. I’ve had to spend a lot of time working, growing, and learning about false realities I wanted and created to get to the root of my ideologies and beliefs. When I let go of the delusional of all the what if’s or could be’s, I started to have a clearer picture of my reality and the more positive direction I wanted to move towards. I realized I didn’t have to stay in the same state of mind I’ve always been in.

  3. Saying ‘no’ is so powerful. Setting boundaries is refreshing, and serves so many purposes in my life. Going off into the Peace Corps this year has taught me the importance of setting boundaries early on while also voicing my opinion and considerations. It’s allowed to me to devote my time and energy to my passions and do away with time fillers and wasters. I am not beneficial to anyone when I am over extended or a scattered brain. By setting boundaries and using my voice, I have shown others that I value myself, my time, and the work I’m dedicated to.

  4. Trusting in the season of my life has allowed me to breathe and find peace in my now. There have been many times where I feel unsettled and restless, wanting to know what’s next or why x, y, or z hasn’t happened yet. I have many short-term and long-term goals for myself, and at times that gives me a false illusion like I know what my future holds or what the next stage holds. I’m in an amazing chapter of my life right now, and I’m learning to just enjoy the moments as they come. I still challenge and push myself, but I’ve given up trying to ‘play God’ and map out my entire life. It’s okay that I don’t know what’s next. It’s okay that I’m single. It’s okay that I’m in this season of my life in another country.

  5. Hard work always pays off, tenfold.  Growing up in Indiana, I had many factors in my life that taught me about being disciplined, having great work ethic, and the value of genuinely helping others, and eventually, I developed the work ethic I have now. While in college, I took on so many jobs, internships, and extra curricular activities. I loved being a part of things greater than myself, being a team player. By working hard, I have developed skills and a value adding mindset that I’ll carry with me no matter where I go, and I learned the value of communicating well, showing up, and always doing the best work I am capable of. So if you ever feel like your work is taking you in circles, recenter your thinking and know that being a smart worker is a valuable asset.

  6. In order to grow, I need to invest in myself. As a volunteer working in the education sector, I have fallen in love with learning again. I am gaining knowledge from the time I get up until I go to bed. I apply myself, and believe I am capable in all that I do. That belief has allowed me to get positions within Peace Corps that allow me to enhance my ability to write and edit, it’s allowed me to get accepted in an online MBA program, it’s allowed me to read more books in a month than I ever thought possible. When I invest in myself, sky really is the limit. I hope you invest in yourself too and see just how capable you are. 

 

 

These views are my own and do not reflect those of the US government or Peace Corps.

How Moving Abroad Reshapes Your Mind and Challenges Your Beliefs

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I left the US 4 months ago, and this is my month #4 reflection with the Peace Corps. Throughout the rest of September and the entirety of October, something special happened. 

To start— this month has been the most eye-opening and testing one yet. The reality of what I’ll be doing day to day has set in, and it can feel so daunting to accomplish and do all the things I’m meant to do here. It can feel overwhelming and isolating, but it’s also invigorating and I’ve found the purest joys here. This journey I’m on has called for the most advantageous version of myself; it’s required me to become more vocal, present, and understanding. It’s demanded that I listen to unravel the realities of other people and to leave any and all discernments at the door. I lived a more sheltered life growing up in small town USA; therefore, there are so many truths I’ve never been exposed to until now. 

You know that saying, you don’t know what it’s like for someone else until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes; Well, I don’t believe you can even truly understand then. You may have more compassion for them or can grapple with their candor, but when you can return their shoes after that mile trek and move out of that reality, it’s difficult to comprehend the longevity and lasting impact of their experiences. 

This month has been special because I’m beginning to truly grasp how little I know about the world around me, differing cultures and belief systems, and the people who occupy all the beautiful spaces around the globe. It’s inspired me to learn, to seek to understand, to hear, to observe, and to ask questions. 

Being inside of a classroom all day and teaching first graders, I’ve seen first hand the power of educating the upcoming generation. It’s been so exceptional for me because I’ve fallen in love with learning again, and that doesn’t mean in the formal sense of going to school to just learn during those specified hours. Any chance I get, I’m picking up a new book or finding a new topic I’m interested in or downloading a new podcast.

I want to learn more so I can understand more, and that’s what I’m working to teach the children I come in contact with. I want them to fall in love with learning and gaining knowledge, the way I have because education and the things they learn are something no one can ever take away from them. By learning, they are investing in themselves and that is the best investment they will make in this lifetime. 

So many of my kiddos tell about how they want to be teachers and doctors and police officers. They tell me about their dreams and their ideas because I ask them and keep pushing for them to expand. I never want them to lose their sense of wonder and creativity because those qualities will take them so far in life. Month #4 has reminded me that I am exactly where I am suppose to be with who I am meant to be here with. If you are ever contemplating moving to another country, do it, you’ll grow in unimaginable ways. 

It has been filled with adventures around Grenada, many beach days, and empty evenings filled with Netflix and writing, but nothing really compares to being in a place where I can share my heart and learn about others in such a vulnerable way. 

Thanks for following along my journey. I am always open to hearing other perceptions, truths, and beliefs, so feel free to reach out. 

*** disclaimer: all my views are my own, and do not reflect the views of the US government or Peace Corps ***

 

Reflection of my 2nd Month Abroad & 1st Month in Grenada

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After completing over 440 hours of training in the Eastern Caribbean, I am just days away from being sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Sitting here in my own space writing this piece, my mind is going a million miles a minute while I reflect on the last 60 days. Truly, it feels like it was another life since I was graduating college and goofing off with my friends. The reality is, I’ve been through so much in such a short amount of time. 

In a matter of months, my life has been twisted upside down and turned sideways, and yet, it has me feeling more at home with myself and fuller than before.

Time moves as quick as lightning here, but sometimes, the night lingers longer than I’d like. My thoughts gravitate towards the notion that, I’m not the same girl I was when I boarded the plane in Miami in the beginning of July; I was timid, had an anxious mind, and worried that I wouldn’t find my place, my people, myself. 

Boy did I have to pony up quick to become an advocate for myself and unpack all my baggage. 

Especially in this last month/ phase 2 of my training in Grenada, I have experienced a whole new level of trials around and within me. Whilst on this journey, personally and professional, you’re pushed, you’re challenged, you’re lonely, you’re new, you’re doing, but sometimes failing, you’re vulnerable, you’re questioned, but at the end of the day, I look myself in the mirror and remind myself that I’m capable, here for a reason, and that I will show up better tomorrow.

I’m human though. I’m not invincible to the uncomfortable moments and the changing of the tides. My mindset keeps evolving in a healthy way to uplift my spirit and remind me of the goodness everywhere I look and the goodness in me. And that’s been my greatest takeaway from my 2nd month in the PC:

We don’t have to be who we’ve always been—we aren’t stuck in a bubble or under a rock. We are meant to be stagnant. We are meant to grow, learn, and blossom, and become the person our soul knows we are at our core. This PC journey has evoked so many important revelations like, who I really am, my convictions, and how I want to share my heart with others. 

I’m reminded the importance of this—there needs to be a correlation between how you truly are and what you portray to the world; there needs to be a parallel, a consideration that runs from your core to the surface, or else you’ll wither away under the stress and speculation when you don’t walk the way you claim to. It isn’t easy always acting, putting on a show to pretend to be something you’re not. 

When you show the world your colors, make sure they are your true, undeniable colors to show because eventually onlookers will see past the facade and you’ll only be shambles of the person you claim to be. We get this idea in our head of how we are suppose to act, look, behave, and speak to fit into a tiny box of what we believe others want to see. Quite frankly, none of that matters at all, if it doesn’t match what’s in your heart. I’m learning the importance of just being, unapologetically myself. 

All my quirks are part of me. I don’t have to dull my shine or play it down. This life is big, beautiful, and captivating, and I don’t take that lightly. It truly is the little things in life that I enjoy the most, and being on this journey reminds me to love deeper, speak kinder words, and appreciate every interaction. 

It’s a beautiful life and I hope you are creating a life you love too. 

Thanks for following along my journey with Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean! 

*** Disclaimer: These thoughts and views are entirely my own, and do not reflect the views of the Peace Corps or U.S. government ***

The Importance of Having Friends Who Are Loyal, Inspiring, and Go-Getters

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As I grow, see the world, and learn, I always come back to one main purpose to life and that’s making connections. Who we love, know, and grow with matters and who we care for, share with, and inspire is just as important. 

I spent most of my youth living in Indiana, growing with the same kids I had known since kindergarten; those friendships I created on the playgrounds, at pop warner football games, and inside the classroom have been forever imprinted on my heart. Through ups and downs, parent’s divorces, lost loved ones, break ups, detentions, and so much more, I understood the importance of valuing the people in my life who showed me love and loyalty at a young age. 

I never wanted to regret not loving big enough, so I loved my friends fiercely and as if they were my own blood, my own family.

I could see the beauty in each flawed friend I had— I took note that we all have our quirks, and questionable characteristics, but the ones who are the most peculiar, most far fetched often need the most love. 

Then when I moved to Florida, I took my mindset about having quality friends over being friends with the masses. It’s wonderful to be kind to each passing face, but it’s also vital to choose people who choose you, and to show up for them, be a consistent motivator and supporter.

It’s easy to stay surface with friends, to gossip, to barely graze over the sticky situations; the challenge is finding people who are on the same wave length, who want to get deep and go beyond what the world sees. When I shared my heart, people began to share theirs and that’s when I built friendships on the foundation of trust, perseverance, and inspiration. 

As an adult, I see the importance of having friends who are not only genuine and authentic, but also have the ability to evoke your passions and inspire you to do and go for your dreams.

The day to day can be filled with chaos, dramas, or letdowns and let’s be honest, life gets in the way at times, texts go unanswered, weeks go by, but the most beautiful friendships and connections aren’t defined by how often you talk or hang out. It’s about how real and deep your energies vibe and connect;  it’s about having friends in your life who give you their perspective, who uplift your spirits, and inspire you to stand back up when you stumble. 

I am so lucky to have those friends from all walks of life with various interests, passions, and goals, but despite our differences, they show up for me, root me on, and I do the same. I love people I connect with fiercely because it really is that deep and those connections are one in a billion. Also, a lot of the most genuine friendships I have made, especially in adulthood, have been because I put myself out there, tore down my walls, made plans, and had 20 seconds of courage to just smile and say hi. So it’s so worth stepping out of your comfort zone to make life-long friends. 

So this is a little reminder to hug your friends a little tighter, say ‘I love you’ a little more often, and to put in the extra effort every now and then. 

Thank you to my best friends, and people I adore more than anything. Shout out to Livia for the FaceTime call that inspired this, you are my inspo!

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A New Perspective When You’re Feeling Less Than Special

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I hear it often, and it saddens me: 

People saying, “What, they think they are special? They aren’t special.” Their venomous words scream right into your face. It feels as though, a dark cloud is tapping on your shoulder, whispering a gentle reminder that rocks your core. “You’re a nobody, you aren’t special.”

The words echo again and again, as failures come rolling in, and the setbacks feel like hurdles you’ll never be able to clear. You start to think, ‘I am a nobody, nobody special.’ I’ve been there, done that too. I’m here to tell you otherwise, but as I write this all, I begin to wonder who I am to tell you different? Who I am to tell you all the thoughts in your head are just against you, to just feed your mind sweeter thoughts?

Am I a nobody too? 

Absolutely….. not. And neither are you. 

Am I not special because I don’t have the most beautiful face or the best voice or the sharpest wit or the most intuitive mind? 

Absolutely not. I’m special because I don’t have all the those things, and because I have other qualities that make me, me. Own that! 

I am Ashley Louise DeBoer, and that means something TO ME. It really doesn’t have to mean much to someone else because they may not know my heart or the way I think, or my energy might not be their cup of tea. Quite frankly, we aren’t going to be everyone’s favorite or second favorite; there will always be someone else with prettier hair, more money, MORE MORE MORE, but we aren’t playing a comparison game, at least not in this lifetime. We aren’t defined by the masks we wear, the amount of money or followers we have. 

It’s so much deeper than that, miles beyond the surface. 

As cheesy as it sounds, we’re all so incredibly special, so deeply important and unique. Not a single soul is the same as the next, so that ultimately means you are one in 6-7 billion. No one laughs the way you do, thinks the way you do, expresses themselves the way you do, dresses the way you do, experiences life the way you do. 

Each one of us is so special because we bring our own perspective to the table, even when we feel as though we are lacking or behind. 

The way you think and talk about your loves, passions, and ideas contributes to your beauty, your uniqueness. No one has lived this day the same way you have, and that’s pretty dang special, and that’s why I’m here to remind you that voice matters, your opinion matters, and your existence is validated, even when you feel as though you are sinking under the pressure. You’re suppose to be at the table, serving up all your thoughts because your perspective and perceptions should and can be heard.

So thank you to all the creatives, the listeners, the thinkers, the writers, the ones who say I love you first, the ones who show up despite the fears and reservations, you are our friendly reminder of the importance to value ourselves and all that being ourselves encompasses. 

Don’t worry so much about being something you’re not, the best thing you can be is you, as they say, “ be yourself, everyone else is already taken” So continue to see the badass that you are. Cheers to being REALLY, shockingly SPECIAL! 

Being Single In Your Twenties

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Everywhere you look, especially on social media, countless people have found their one in a billion, their happily ever after. They’re cozied up with the one they want to share their life with, and those love bugs are following their feelings to the alter, into long term commitment, and forevers. You see couples kissing, taking cutesy pictures, exploring the world together, cheering each other on during the highs and the lows. 

I understand that comparison is the thief of joy, and I don’t believe the green is greener on the other side of the fence, but somedays, it’d be nice to have that one person that make you smile when you want to cry, that one person who makes you feel giddy when they walk into a room, that one person who is there for you rain or shine.

But I don’t have that. And that’s okay.

When you’re single in your twenties, it doesn’t mean you are not enough or worth it. It doesn’t mean you are going to be alone forever or that you are unlovable; it doesn’t mean you are behind in life. It can feel as though are, when your friends are bringing their boyfriends/girlfriends around, moving in together, doing all that jazz but you’re just chillin and third wheeling. 

Your life doesn’t start or become meaningful because you’ve met someone to share it with. Your life is meaningful if you give it meaning and purpose, when you know your essence and cherish your heart. You don’t need another soul to validate you or give you worth. You are worthy without the words to affirm it. 

Being single during my early twenties has taught me how to be vulnerable in who I am and what I want out of life. I’ve learned how to be independent, how to prioritize myself, my future, and my plans, how to walk into a room and know I belong without a familiar face in sight. I’ve learned the importance of being present in the moment, and understanding and controlling my feelings. I’ve found calmness in my own presence, and released the need to control what I can not. 

Going solo in my twenties and throughout college has taught me how to date, how to stand my ground, and stand up for myself. I’ve been able to find my voice, and not allow a voice to talk over mine. I will not make myself small for anyone. I figured out what career path I wanted to go on, took countless opportunities, and shaped my life the way my heart and mind desired. I didn’t have to compromise in monumental stages of my growth. 

Through my single years, I’ve learned valuable lessons like you can’t love people into loving you, you outgrow people who stay stagnant, and you should never, ever settle when it comes to love.

When you dream big and you’re a go-getter, you’ll scare people who don’t see the vision or can’t stand the heat. Thank them for the memories, but let them hit the road before they weigh you down. Attraction is essential, but if it’s not deeper than the surface, what’s the point?

A few side notes to it all—

Rebounds don’t work, but time does heal wounds. 

Forgiveness is your friend.

If you like someone, tell them. Show them.  

Jealousy is a waste of energy. No one is you, and that’s your power.

Don’t let your pride get in the way.

Understanding is the way to someone’s heart.

Love yourself and others will too. 

Trust the timing of things because you can’t rush something, you want to last forever. Enjoy the single season of your life because it won’t be like this forever. You have mountains to move and places to go. Have an open, receptive heart because you’re lovable, worthy, and deserving of a love as deep as the ocean. 

Cheers to being single in our twenties! 

The Art of Letting Go in the New Year

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It’s an art, without a doubt— the art of releasing what is no longer serving your soul, letting go of what is toxic and draining. 

I am a hopeless romantic, and believe I’m destined for a beautiful, captivating love and I have yet to adore someone to the depth of my core like I desire and know awaits me. I make things bigger than they are because I believe this life is meant to be full and consuming and healing.

We don’t have to be who we’ve always been.

We can grow, become more of who we are really meant to be— the conscious being who desires to understand one’s essence. With that in mind, I look for the good in others and when someone is broken and their mind is off in wonderland, my heart swoons to their aid. I want to know their aches, their pain, their perceptions, their desires, their heart. 

I want to be a healer. I want them to be on the same level as I am, so we can be together. There’s only a few instances where this has happened for me because I’ve had the hardest time learning to let people go when they need to be set free.

I try to love them into loving me, and that can not happen. People are who they are and who they decide to be, and when they ask you to let them go, do it. 

There are billions of people in this world, but deep connections don’t happen everyday, and for me, I have created amazing friendship connections, but the love draw is almost non-existent at times. So I hold onto comfort for a moment, even when it no longer serves me and continuously gives me an assorted platter of disappointment.

That’s only because I had expectations, ones I knew they’d never meet. 

I made that choice to hold onto something that I created in my head, one sided, and through writing and communicating, I’ve learned that I create walls and barriers to keep people out who want to adore me and I for a long time took on the mission of wanting energies who didn’t want me because I couldn’t accept it.

I was vulnerable and felt unwanted, but someone who doesn’t love themselves can’t love you. My mind was becoming toxic to me and through these experiences I’ve learned, there is no question if I’m good enough— I am and always will be, but God knows those souls weren’t right with mine and this life isn’t a race.  

When I started trusting in myself and my gut, I truly learned how to be genuine in my release. To look myself in the mirror, and smile, knowing I’m being true to my heart and my vision.

Nothing beautiful in this life is forced, prodded, and skewed. When you’re free of the burdens, you see clearly without resentment or questions, knowing you’re serving your soul now. Happiness comes dancing across your chest when you don’t simmer in the hurt and questions— you can fly free when you let go of what is holding you down.