Update: Perfection is an illusion

Hi there,

I’m Ashlea and I’m a perfectionist. When I first started this blog I was only inclined to post masterpieces, I simply wouldn’t settle for anything less. As great as being a perfectionist may seem, it has its flaws. I am my own worst critic. The pressure I put on myself to only publish the best and to dismiss everything in between has been holding me back tremendously.  I think that not only myself, but my blog plan and its layout desired perfectionism. I am a writer. Writers don’t need everything they write to be perfect, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s best to just write without thinking and not worry about who’s going to see it. It’s okay to crumple up the piece of paper afterwards, or to store it away and forget about it. That’s where growth begins. How do you improve if everything you do immaculate? This whole writing a blog thing, is a shot in the dark for anyone to ever see it. But I don’t write in the hopes of people reading it, I write for myself. And if by some miracle others come across what I have written and enjoy it or connect to it in any way, then I’ll be delighted.

The whole reason I started this blog was to document my thoughts; those deep, intricate, untainted thoughts that run through this young mind of mine. Ultimately, this blog is an insight in to Ashlea’s brain, in all its glory and confusion! I’ve said this before, but life is ever-changing, as are we. Whatever may be going on in my life and my mind will never occur again. The rest of my life is something I have to figure out, and what better way to do so than to write every step of the way?

So I came to a conclusion. If my blog was limiting my writing (sounds so ironic) then that is what had to change. So as you may already have noticed, I have changed the layout which I think encourages exploration. Instead of just writing a letter every month, I’m going to be posting a lot more, which makes me so happy and excited. I hope you are too.

But it doesn’t stop there, friends, Oh no. As I was just going about my day, at home by myself (which is very rare), I sort of had a moment of envisioning future-Ashlea. It was weird, I’ve never really thought about what her life may be like, but I could see her bordering 30, living in a cute little apartment in the city away from family, coming home from a busy and productive day. She’d be the type to start cooking whatever she wanted, not really bothering with anything fancy (trial and error sort of thing), dancing and singing happily away to her favourite songs, glass of wine in hand. Carelessly and shamelessly herself and loving it. I don’t know if she’d be living with somebody, be in a relationship, have a pet or if I was on her own. But in that thought, there wasn’t any stress of anything that could be missing, that future-Ashlea’s life may be far from perfect, but the vision of me living in my own place, being older, independent, happy and free, seems pretty perfect to me.

Also, I was reading a book and there was this one line that really made me think. The main character broke off her engagement and has a moment of looking back on their ‘perfect’ highlights. She describes the night she met his family, the first time he said ‘I love you’ etc (the obviously perfect moments in life) But there was this one moment that changed my way of thinking. It was the day they moved into their new house and sat on the stairs drinking champagne out of mugs. I just thought that life is far from perfect but that image of the time they moved into their new house, full of hope, happiness and love, spending every day with each other. That first day of moving, is not glamorous and is highly stressful – that’s the reality. So they took the reality and made it something beautiful to remember. They were together making the best of every situation – and that, my friends, is what life is all about. Perfection is an illusion. Most of the time, those perfect moments are the ones made up of imperfect details.

Thanks for reading!
Always, Ashlea



Being Young & Twenty

As a young person, I always get asked the same question. So, what do you want to do with your life? And my answer still remains, I don’t know. It used to stress me out a lot. My mind was flooded with endless questions that I just didn’t have answers to, whilst everyone around me seemed to have an idea, a dream, a plan. But now, as I turn twenty I’m starting to embrace the uncertainty and letting it empower me rather than scare me.

I think there is this huge misconception that ‘being young and twenty’ means having your life figured out. That your teenage years are your experimental years and when you reach your twenties you should have a life plan. But I don’t believe that. To me, being young and twenty is your time for figuring it all out. It’s a case of trial and error, as we all search for those things that make us happy and try to incorporate them into our lives as much as possible.
I may not know what job I want or where I want to live or at what age I want to do ‘adult’ things, like move out and settle down, but I do know this:
I want to learn so much more, from people, books and experiences. I want to travel and explore. Document life. Be creative. Become a better person. Help people, inspire them. Make a difference. Have fun. And there’s no better time to tick of all those things on my bucket list, than right now as I venture further into my twenties.
So to those who are twenty and confused, and still have your life to figure out, this is our time. Our world may be full of doubts and uncertainty but it’s full of possibility and we have the freedom to explore it.
(This is was featured on http://www.youngandtwenty.com

A Conversation with Social Anxiety

Me: I hate feeling so lonely all the time, I just wish I could make some friends.

Anxiety: Make friends? No. You can’t do that! You’re safe at home by yourself. Besides, people don’t tend to like you, remember? They always think you’re boring and awkward and unattractive and annoying and…

Me: Okay, I get it but I don’t want to be alone anymore. I want to have fun, maybe join a club or something?

Anxiety: A club?! No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Absolutely not!
You can’t do that. Every club you’ve ever joined, you’ve always quit. You’ve always been the shy, awkward one in the corner that everyone ignored. Remember how awful you felt? Always feeling like you didn’t belong, uncomfortable, self conscious, anxious.

Me: Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

Anxiety: You’re inadequate, socially inept, never good enough, or fun enough, or pretty enough, or interesting enough, or smart enough, or funny enough. I mean, honestly what do you even have to offer and can you even begin to imagine what could go wrong?

Me: I haven’t actually thought about it… like what?

Anxiety: EVERYTHING! How are you even going to join a club? Make the first move and talk to somebody? How? Where? Randomly message them online? What are you going to say? ‘Hi, you don’t know me but I’ve found this online and thought that I might like to be apart of the club, by the way I struggle with social anxiety so I’ll probably be a right mess when you first meet me’
What if they think you’re desperate and needy? What if they completely misunderstand you? What if you instantly make a bad first impression and you haven’t even met them yet? And then you’ll have to meet everyone else and what if you stand out like a sore thumb? Where would you meet them? A pub? A public place? What if you have to drive there by yourself and get lost? What if there’s no parking and you don’t know what to do? Or what if you can’t park properly and everybody watches you try? What if you walk in by yourself and can’t find them? I mean you’re basically searching for a bunch of people you’ve never met. What if you walk in and they all just stop and stare? What would you do then? How would you deal with that? What if you don’t belong and end up wearing the wrong thing and they all just look at you and judge? What if you don’t understand what they’re talking about and have to awkwardly sit or stand there with a vacant look upon your face? What if you say the wrong thing, mix up your words or can’t think of anything to say at all? What if they think you’re stupid or boring? What if nobody actually likes you and you’re just awkwardly there, feeling like an outsider? What if nobody comes to talk to you? What would you do then?

Me: Oh wow, that’s a lot to take in. I hadn’t thought of these things before.

Anxiety: Well? What would you do?

Me: I…. I don’t know.

Anxiety: Exactly! See, I knew you wouldn’t be able to handle it. That’s why it’s best to just avoid it altogether. You’re fine where you are and most importantly, you’re safe.

Me: Yeah, I suppose you’re right.

The truth behind ‘I’m fine’

When did the simple question of ‘how are you’ become so difficult and complex to answer? My initial reaction is a quick ‘I’m fine’ as I briefly smile and nod my head as I think to myself – I’m not in pain, nor going through anything traumatic, so I must be fine. But then I start to wonder, am I saying this because it’s the honest answer or because it’s the easiest? And why has this become my automatic response? When someone asks me if I’m okay, why do I feel obliged to say yes? Truth is, I’m not okay and I’m not fine.

If you want to know how I have been feeling, then ask me what my last thought at night is, what keeps me awake at night. Ask me about my dreams and if I have nightmares. Ask me what I do during the day and how I pass the time. Ask me what I’m worrying over and what scares me to death. Ask me what my favourite song is, or what I’ve been listening to a lot. Ask me what my plans are and if there’s anything I’m looking forward to. Ask me about my hopes and aspirations, what my next move in life is; if I have a next move. Ask me what I would wish for if I could have anything in the world. Bottom line is, you don’t have to ask ‘how are you’ because the answer is hidden in all of those questions you didn’t ask.

Sometimes people lie or don’t tell you the whole truth about how they feel, but their actions say it loud and clear; and sometimes people automatically say ‘I’m fine’ even if they’re not. I still long for those days when someone asks me, ‘how are you’ and my reply will be ‘happy’.