It’s Time To Turn Another Dreaded “Sorry, You’re Not It” Email Into Fuel

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Throughout my life, I have worked towards various goals and made plans along the way by accepting different jobs, going off to college, and making decisions to go outside of my comfort zone, but there’s a story that I, along with many others, don’t share so openly. There’s a story of triumph, tears, let downs, and ultimately rejection; there’s a story of no’s and not yet’s.

At 23, I feel like my story of no’s has been more extensive than I’ve ever led on because I have this mentality of continuous improvement so I shoot my shot for my dream ideals, which comes with a lot of big fat “sorry, you’re not it” letters.

Since coming home from Peace Corps, I realized for the first time in my life, I wasn’t in the rat race of society anymore. I was coming home, jobless and to live with my parents (first time since I was 17). I was coming home, broken hearted and decided to spend the next two months dedicated to healing and growing through therapy.

Now, I write this, saying I am thriving because my mind and spirit are allowing me to be, to trust in myself and my abilities, and to know that this is all part of the plan, but then, as my mind became healthier and more supportive. . .

this happened . . .

I had spent an entire month, waiting to hear back from a certain job that I had deemed “perfect” for me. I got an interview, spent time with the organization, and really showed who I was to the team, and thought that I was a no-brainer hire.

So, I waited.

And I waited.

I prayed, and I hoped.

Still, somewhere along the way, I found myself telling people about it as if my worth was equated with a title, with a job, with what I could produce or achieve.

So I waited a little more.

Then, I got the email and my heart dropped when I got into the car, realizing I had put all my eggs in this basket.

It read: “Thank you Ashley for taking the time to meet all of us and interview, but we have decided to go with someone else.”

My heart sunk, and tears overwhelmed me. So I cried so hard for two minutes– I couldn’t find my voice, and my heart raced through my chest; I let my world crash down around me and my mind dragged me through the mud for a few minutes as I dried my tears.

Now for the first time ever, I had no plans and I wasn’t waiting on anything, and that hit me in that moment. I felt like a failure.

As I sat in my car, a little numb and sad, I started to marry logic and emotion (thanks David for that reminder).

There was a reason why this job wasn’t the right fit for me and there was a reason why this no had to come; I am being groomed for something better.

I flipped down my driver’s mirror and looked at myself, makeup smeared and eyes puffy, and said to myself:

“You are a strong, capable leader.”

“You are destined to love, to be loved, to be depth.”

“Your light doesn’t diminish because someone’s inability to see it.”

That last affirmation stuck with me, and reminded me that this is all part of the plan. I look back at life and see that there were things I wanted so desperately, but now know that greater has come and gone since then. I am stronger, more transparent and well because of the no’s I’ve taken on.

Nobody wants to get rejected, and honestly, nobody even wants to talk about it. I let my circle know that it didn’t work out how I intended, but by using my network, other things, better things have transpired since then. BETTER. FULLER.

I can see that the job I deemed ideal had red flags that wouldn’t have served either one of us. I can see that I have a heart to serve, but it has to be healthy and logical.

I felt very compelled to share this because there’s so much societal pressure to preform, to achieve, and to have all the yeses.

That’s not reality though, especially when you are designing a life you truly love, one that inspires you.

I am here to say that I’m not settling, I’m not discouraged, and I’m not becoming small out of fear and you shouldn’t either.

Rejection is part of the process— so feel the emotion, harness it, and become stronger from it.

Stay Tuned, I will be sharing more of my views on rejection and my mindset on David Essel’s radio show live on March 26th at 5pm.

How I Grew When Life’s Game Plan Changed

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A chapter in my life closed, abruptly, before I really knew how to process my reality and the emotions that would follow a faint goodbye. A month has passed since I moved back to Florida after believing I’d be gone for nearly 2 years.

Plans changed. My roadmap of what my life was SUPPOSE to look like shifted. Being able to write and share that it’ll all work out has given me peace within this chaos of grieving and starting over.

When I chose to go into Peace Corps almost a year ago now, I thought I had found my calling and I knew exactly what I was suppose to do; I was going to be of service to others. I had a glow in me for months before I left, a glow that is hard to describe to this day. Then, one day, I woke up and that spark in me was gone. It faded slowly over time until I didn’t recognize myself, my habits, or my new day to day behaviors. I was going against my intuition at so many turns, and my heart and mind weren’t on the same page. My heart wanted to stay, to serve, to love, to give, to be, but my rational fears were greater. So I broke my own heart, in order to follow what I knew to be right for me. I see now, no one was benefiting from that. 

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to talk about my Peace Corps experience in its entirety because although I left, it doesn’t mean I don’t wonder. I wonder about the people, the work I did, my school, and my kids. I wonder if anything I did stuck or mattered. I wonder if I was of service. I wonder if things could have been different had I spoken up sooner. I’m human and I wonder, a lot. I spend nights awake, hoping that I’m moving in the right direction, hoping that I am taking care of myself.

But as my mind runs wild, I try to calm it.

Knowing that the ‘what if’ game is torture to every inch of me.

What have I learned from starting over again?

I’ve learned, I need to trust my intuition and protect my well-being.

I can be strong by being vulnerable, asking for help, and accepting that sometimes I need a hand to hold onto.

I don’t need to justify my reasons or prove myself to anyone. I know my truths. 

My self-worth is not equated with my accomplishments, titles, or roles. I’m enough, worthy, and loved for just being me. I am enough and I’m free of the burdens to be something I’m not.

This is not a failure for me, this was part of the plan. I did something I had always wanted to do and I did my very best, but there were factors out of my own control, ones I couldn’t live with. So instead of having to justify anything or belittling my time away, I’ve learned to love my experience for all that it was. I even love the parts that left me a little bruised and fragile because it’s allowed me to rebuild stronger, fuller and better than before.

I don’t know what’s next or what tomorrow holds, but I do know that I am stronger now because I am choosing to just be. I do know that it’s dark before the dawn, and this life really is sweet, even when it’s heavy.

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 ***

 

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! 

Graduation Reflection: How College Impacted My Confidence and My Heart

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I’ve had some time to reflect on the whirlwind of my life this past month— the newness of being a college alumni, the subtle emptiness of a once favored chapter, and the grand adventure waiting to unfold. 

As I graduated, I was in awe of all the work that had transpired for me to be in this moment—walking across the stage, receiving my diploma, turning the page on a place I called home for the past 4 years. I found myself thanking my family and friends, but most importantly, my gratitude drifted to all the letdowns and confusion I’ve endured because I was sculpted, molded by all my failures that became lessons.

Everything I had once wanted to work out, but didn’t, finally made sense. I understood why certain paths were just not for me, I was being prepared for my HELL YES.  

For a few short moments as I strutted across the stage, my life made perfect sense. I was me, and that was enough— no nerves, no distractions, just me and my value.

I had transformed, blossomed into a woman who is independent, resilient, and understanding of one’s self, others, and the world near and far. 

I had set my heart and mind to something and I achieved what I had planned to do; I accomplished something that once felt like a vague, distant dream. As I graduated, I watched it all come together, in harmony— a milestone, a coming of age story as old as time. 

A major revelation in my heart was that I am an adult now. I know they say 18 is the age you can vote and buy tobacco, move out and carry on, but as I hugged and thanked my mom, my presence was different— more confident, more assured, more adult-like. At 22, I became an adult. At 22, I graduated college and made decisions for my future that fell completely on my own shoulders. Longevity and fulfillment filtered into my decisions. 

I didn’t need training wheels for life anymore and for a few moments I glided as if I were invincible, as if I’d never fall. I rationally know I’ll rock back and forth, fall too many times to count, get a few scraped knees, maybe a broken heart or two, but with the wind in my hair and hope in my heart, I made one promise to myself— I’ll always get back up. I’ll always try again. I’ll always have faith in my heart to do better and believe in the magic of today, the magic of tomorrow, and the magic of loving myself. 

That’s one thing I hold near and dear to my heart, and know I must value through all the years to come— it’s so important to have love and respect for myself and the world around me. When I truly started to believe in myself, a ‘no’ could not stop me; countless no’s motivated me and served as a reminder that the ride is the most beautiful part of the journey. 

Graduating was rewarding, and it had meaning and fullness because of the grueling nights of projects and studying, because of the involvement I had created within my community with peers and professors, because of the passionate people I surrounded myself with, inspiring me day in and day out, and lastly because I was pushed outside of my comfort zone in every avenue. 

The ride was filled with tremendous growth and soul searching, experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world and as I reflect during my gap between graduation and leaving for the Peace Corps, I understand the important of the in between moments, making the most of the growing pains, and loving experiences before they are over. 

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and reflections like this, and I owe a lot to Florida Gulf Coast University for being the foundation for me to find my confidence and love for myself. Thank you mom and dad, Mark and Morgan, friends and family for the endless love and support, and rooting for me.

So cheers to new beginning and valuing those special people I wouldn’t want to live without! 

 

Why I Wear Aid Through Trade Bracelets

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As many of you know, I am an economics major and economic development along with supporting women empowerment towards financial freedom are two things I hold near and dear to my heart and I will continue to gravitate towards brands that have the same vision I do. With passion and admiration, I choose to be an advocate for Aid Through Trade.

When I was in Key West last summer, I came across Aid Through Trade bracelets in a cute little shop and whipped out my phone to google them and was amazed by what I discovered. Not only were these beaded bracelets beautiful and elegantly crafted, but they also had a deeper meaning that made me feel as though I was helping make a difference, that I was a part of something bigger than myself.

Now a year later, my wrist is always clothed in the famous Roll-On Bracelets, no matter where I am going or what I’m doing.

When I read their vision: “Empower the lives of women through ethical, fair, and sustainable employment.” I was hooked. As a consumer and as an economic student, I’m reminded it’s in our power to buy products and support brands that make an impact on a larger scale as each purchase from Aid Through Trade directly supports their commitment to empowering women through ethical and fair employment. This is a company that is working to make a positive impact on lives around the world, and another way they are doing that is by being a part of Green America— which focuses on sustainability through limiting their environmental footprint.

What’s not to LOVE?

I mean, look how cute my Capri Coast Roll-On Bracelets are!

I’ve linked my bracelet below, along with a few of my favorites. Also, you can go to their website and browse for yourself and learn more about their ethical company.

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Roll-On® Bracelets <br> Capri Coast

A Key To A Happier You: Forgiveness

A Key To A Happier You: Forgiveness

This past week I was in Chicago for the holidays and somehow, Chicago has a way of inspiring me to produce my best work. So here are some of my recent thoughts on forgiveness and self-love.

The city evokes my curiosity, the wonderment of the unknown, uncertainty, and largeness of the masses. As I grow older and have new experiences under my belt, I begin to wonder, could I find sanctuary in the chaos? I don’t say home because home, for me, is more of feeling and less of a residency— home never quite felt like home and love from just family never felt quite whole, so I searched for a substitute for what I lacked my whole life.

I came up empty, filled with resentment, anger, and even jealousy to those who had what I did not.

Now, my heart understands and my mind is on the same page— disappointment runs in my veins because I create these expectations in my head about how people should be, act, and care for me when the reality is, most things don’t revolve around me and their inconsiderate manner is just part of their universe.

I can’t change them, especially when my resentment covers me like a silent plaque, until I am no longer accepting their existence. I go ghost into my own world, uninviting and shrill to their ideology, because no matter how they cling to me, I act as though it’s never enough, and that is entirely on me. My skin screams to be touched, to be hugged, and to be loved, but their presence only lingers in the back of the room, refusing to put forth effort I desperately crave.

For a long time, this one undeniable thought laid prominent in the center of my mind through all my acts, “I’ll never be enough for you.”

But through the years, it’s not that I am not enough for them, but actually the opposite begins to ring true. That I know, and how is that fair for me to be so judgmental and act as though I am superior? When I am not, nobody in this world is.

So I chase it back to the source—

I take a look at who I am and what my needs are, and focus on some of my truths.

I would never be happy in a small town with small minds and small endeavors with the social norm being to marry young and have babies to carry on the name to raise up to be football jocks and record breaking stars. I would never be happy to work for someone day in and day out with little growth, no new knowledge, no experience that leaves me feeling fulfilled and enlightened. I would never be happy, if I chose to stay instead of leaving for my next adventure, but with choices comes opportunity costs and trade offs.

In order to take on a new adventure, I had to say goodbye to the only house I ever knew, goodbye to the closeness of my father, goodbye to my best friends who have been by my side almost every hour of every day.

I had to embrace the loneliness of the newness in hopes of finding what my soul needed most; Fear lingered, but I never allowed it to make me back down. See, I have no problem engulfing myself in new passions and desires, but when I try to free my heart of the restraints of sadness I’ve endured, I refuse.

I refuse to start new with the ones I love most— I refuse to truly forgive and let down my walls I’ve built up to keep them out, but that’s the start of my journey to self-love.

In order to love myself, I must be free from my burdens, relinquish any hate festering in my soul, any and all unsettlements to my soul and I’m starting with taking responsibility for my soul actions and acknowledging my imperfections, bruises, and lackings in a vulnerable way to heal and repair what I view as broken.

Who I am— is what my soul exudes. I have the choice to be a better, more loving version of myself, who honors effort and has faith in mankind, who understands most people are just doing the best they can. People love differently, handle stress differently, communicate differently— not wrong, just because it’s different than what I choose to do. I’m aware that love needs to be at the center of all interactions, and people deserve second, even third and fourth chances, without having burdens held over their head.

Forgiveness for yourself, forgiveness for others will be the one thing that will restore your faith in unconditional love.

I’ve linked one of my favorite articles below, so check that out!

Forgive… And Feel Happier

You’ve got this,

Ash