The Battle to Overcome Rejection

One of the first pieces I ever wrote when I began this writing journey was an ‘Open Letter for When You’re Not Chosen.’ I was grieving hard over a rejection and, in my delirious, over-emotional state, I wrote a letter about how humans are like popcorn- not everyone chooses to snack on them at the cinema, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty. I’m pretty sure I was dreaming that Cobbs would read it and sponsor me with a lifetime supply of Sweet and Salty.  

Even though the feeling of rejection was the catalyst that broke the writing dam, I’ve been incredibly reluctant to openly publish any pieces about it. Unpacking rejection would mean having to talk publicly about the humiliating events leading up to it and admit that yes- I have been rejected.

But I made a promise to be vulnerable and honest on this corner of the internet. If I want this to be a place where people who have gone through hard things can come and feel understood, then I’m going to have to be the first to shed some skin.

So here it goes.

Rejection is an issue I’ve had to wrestle hard with over the last three years. Every time Rejection and I had to face off in the boxing arena, I would always end up slammed and pinned down. In boxing, you have ten seconds to get yourself up before the game is over. For me, it took months before I could even peel my head off the floor.

On its face, it can appear that no two rejections are alike. Some are painful stings that last momentarily and can be quickly soothed. Others begin as an ache that continues to throb and flare up over a long period of time.

I have friends who barely bat an eyelid if a date went badly, but would sob over pints of ice cream when their job application is turned down. Now that we’re in a season where we have to apply for clerkship and grad offers, we hear more about the rejections emails than we do the acceptance calls. In the writing world, I see people mourning the rejection of their book deals and constantly asking for feedback on their pitches. For me, it was the area of romantic rejection that caused the most grief. I’m learning that the area that hurts the most is where we put our worth. As much as we try to conceal it online, everyone goes through rejection.

When you really dig deep, you’ll find that rejection – no matter what area of our life it hits- is actually the same for all of us. In fact, it’s laughable how repetitive it is. The more I experience it, the more I learn that there’s no creativity or innovation in the painful feelings that overwhelm us.  

Rejection is programmed to tell you that you’re not good enough. Like a bad record on repeat, it’ll tell you that you mustn’t be worth a lot. That you were never a worthy contender in the game you’ve made up in your head. Even when we know deep down that we dodged a bullet, Rejection will still slap a label on you declaring ‘Not Chosen.’

The word ‘chosen’ is a constant theme in my life. I have always wanted to be chosen by someone. I wanted to be someone’s first pick in the team of Life instead of always being second best. Plan A instead of Plan B.

 I want to pause and say that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be picked. I know there are people out there tearing themselves apart because they think there’s something hopeless about feeling this way. It’s human nature to want to be seen and known, and yes-chosen. To anyone who thinks there must be something defective in them because they feel this way- stop believing that. There’s nothing wrong with you.

The desire to be picked flared up a couple years ago when I became deeply infatuated with someone I really wanted to call ‘mine.’ I built up the feelings and replayed the fantasies so much in my head that when I found out somebody was already in the picture, I shattered. It literally felt like someone had punched me in the faceand kicked me in the stomach at the same time.

The months after became a full-blown battle between my head and my feelings. I’m talking a Hunger Games Style fight to the death. Every insecurity would swarm into my mind wielding weapons and slicing down every rational, positive thought I tried to have. Unresolved questions such as ‘Why aren’t I chosen?’ or ‘Is it because I’m not good/pretty enough?’ or ‘When will I be picked?’ would pervade my mind and interrupt my sleep at night.

Friends had to nurture me back to life with constant reassuring phone calls and Netflix was a brilliant numbing tool for the pain. Every time it felt like I was making progress, I would be dragged back down again whenever I lurked too hard on social media or witnessed something I didn’t want to see.

Amongst the many helpful conversations I had with my loved ones, the one I remember most happened while I was double fisting burgers. What began as a light-hearted banter between a friend and I, quickly turned into me trying desperately not to become a bawling mess in the crowded restaurant.  

 “It sucks that I’m not chosen,” I said while trying to hold back tears in my eyes.

“Yeah but you have to be the one that chooses them too,” she told me. “Is this person really your first choice?”

I think rejection hurts so much because we believe it’s one sided. We believe that the other party has all the power to either accept or reject us, when actually- we get to play a massive part in the decision-making process as well. It’s one thing to be chosen. It’s another thing entirely to choose them back.

In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t choose any of the people I thought were rejecting me. I eventually discovered that there was a severe mismatch of character. A difference in our life’s calling. An inconsistency with our values. The colour of his eyes and a crooked smile won’t hide the fact that they’re incompatible with your desires and ambitions.

When you make a choice-whether that be your grad job, your literary agent or the person you want to date- you want to be sure that they’re the right fit. Apart from that person’s looks or the reputation of that firm you want to work at, you want to be sure that you’re making a decision that’s good and durable in the long run. Not just in the moment.  

Of course- I didn’t want to hear any of this while I was in the spiral of feeling rejected and lost in self-loathing. I believed that there was someone out there keeping track of all my rejections just to use it against me later. Spoiler alert: No one is keeping score. That’s just you.

One night, when I was in the thick of my heartache and wondering if I’d ever feel peace in this area, I heard a voice say very clearly that ‘the victory will be sweet.’ Some will call this voice my intuition, but I like to think of it as God comforting me that night.

Sure enough, the peace came a few months later.

I had gotten so use to the pain that sat dully on my chest that I felt empty when I noticed it was gone. Then I realised it was because I felt weightless. Now that he and I get to reclaim the title ‘friends,’ I can feel just how euphoric the victory is. Now it’s the hopeful reminder I tell anyone feeling the ache of rejection: the victory will be sweet.

 Where there’s rejection, there’s also redemption. You’re allowed to grieve and throw tantrums at the blow to your ego. You’re allowed to feel sad and angry and wonder when it’ll be your turn to be picked. But above all, know that the point of this life isn’t to be chosen by everybody but to treasure those that do.

Rejection serves a purpose that’s far greater than you know. You may not see it while it’s happening, and you may never get the answers to why it had to happen this way. But one day you’ll be sitting at a job you love or besides somebody who makes you feel like home, and you’ll think to yourself ‘thank goodness I was saved from that other path.’ Hold out for this moment.

Flip the script that tells you you’re rejected. Cling tightly to your values and your worth. Continue to fight against the lies that tell you you’re not worthy. There will be cuts and bruises and it’ll probably be the hardest battle you’ve ever fought. But any fight to reclaim your mind will always be worth it. Know that you are always good enough no matter who picks you to be on their team. Maybe the point of all of this is that you finally learn how to pick yourself.

The irony is that I’ll probably publish this and then cry next week because I feel rejected over something else. This only goes to show that there’s no finish line with this thing. I say that a lot because I always thought that once I conquered a painful emotion, I would never have to deal with it again. Now I know that the pain just increases our capacity to experience all the good feelings too.

For anyone currently going through the ache of a rejection: chin up and eyes forward, babe. The victory will be sweet.

Encouraging you always,

Ash xx

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THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Hey you,

I see you lurking and struggling to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

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In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

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Success and All His ‘Friends’

I watched Bohemian Rhapsody last week.

When I first saw the trailer, I remember swearing that I wouldn’t pay money to see it because it didn’t seem like my type of movie. But then life, with its funny sense of humour, dropped 4 free tickets into my inbox to see it at the Open-Air Cinema. Side note: I ended up loving the movie so much I watched it again the very next night.

As we curled up on a picnic blanket and watched Freddie Mecury transition from baggage handler at Heathrow to the lead singer of Queen, I remember wondering, ‘When is the drama going to start?’ The first 30 minutes felt like a montage of him reaching milestone after milestone. He became lead singer, got the girl, landed an international tour and become world renowned, all within 5 years.

Even though Freddie and Queen were pursuing a vastly different goals than I was, I couldn’t help but feel little aches and twinges inside as I wondered why certain things hadn’t unfolded just as easily or quickly for me. Anyone with lofty dreams and big goals knows that having high aspirations comes with conditions attached. Namely, the self-doubt and anxiety that asks: Why aren’t things happening quickly for me? Why am I not there? How come I’m not as successful yet?

I want to pause and say that I know the producers probably didn’t have time to show all the initial striving and disappointments in Queen’s first five years. And surely it wasn’t as easy as I’ve described. But sometimes I think that’s all we see when we look at other people’s lives. At a distance, we only get to watch the highlight reel of someone else’s life and a surface level indication of the challenges they’ve faced. As a result, it can be really easy to doubt our capabilities and wonder if good things are only reserved for others.

From the outside, life really looked like it was coming together for Freddie Mercury.

Until it all fell apart.

The drama erupted halfway through the film when Freddie had to wrestle with the choices he’d made and his identity. I don’t want to ruin the plot, but anyone who’s aware of his life knows there was a point where everything came crashing down.

I heard someone say that becoming ‘successful’ opens you up to more vulnerabilities. That behind all the glitz and glamour, you have to deal with the side-effects of being in the public eye or having more responsibilities. The higher you climb, the further you fall. The bigger you get, the more public opinion you’ll inevitably attract. You’ll wonder if certain friends are genuine or just wanting a slice of the pie, and you’ll clash with people who don’t have the same vision as you.

Hearing that and watching Freddie’s character fall apart on the screen got me thinking that maybe I’m not ‘there’ yet because my character needs to be developed first. A lot of us fantasise about what it’d be like once we become successful, but we don’t stop to ask if the person we are today can handle the consequences of getting everything we want.

Obtaining the dream doesn’t transform us into someone different. We’re still the same person with the same insecurities and flaws. If we can’t handle rejection now, we won’t magically be able to handle it once we’ve made it. If we attach our worth to what people think of us, it’ll only magnify once we reach our version of success.

Getting somewhere too fast, too soon can attract a bunch of gate-crashers to a party with poor security. Left unchecked, Depression can slip in and drain your energy. Anxiety invites all his other friends, like Imposter Syndrome. They can squash you and your good intentions so you can’t remember why you started in the first place.  

While it can be easy for me to get trapped in my feelings and get salty about why I’m not where I want to be, I also know that I don’t want to be someone who crashes and burns once I reach my goals. Maybe all the waiting and the lengthy distance between our goals is so we can be ready to handle the ‘consequences’ come attached with my success. Because the good and the bad always come as a package deal. Above all, I want to be faithful with the little I have now before I ask for more.

It’s a hard sentence to process when someone says, ‘maybe you’re not ready yet.’ I’d be lying if I said I handle that thought with grace and poise. In reality, I throw mini temper tantrums because it feels like everything I’m doing isn’t enough.

Someone is probably going to read this and ask, ‘But when will I be ready?’ And the truth is, I don’t know. No one else will be able to know but you. You’ll most likely hate this answer, because I did when someone else said the same thing to me two days ago. But it’s true.

Being ready isn’t a destination you arrive at. No one hands you a certificate that says ‘You Made It.’ There’s no map that marks X as the spot and the trail you use to get there. A map implies that there’s a chance you’ll go the wrong direction. But no matter how long or slow it takes, or what path you choose, everything that’s happening is refining you into the person you’re supposed to be when things do fall into place.

It’s easy to discount the places where we feel like we’re moving backwards or are stagnant. I remember having dinner with a friend last year who told me there was a time where it felt like absolutely nothing was happening for her.

“A few months ago, I landed this job, then aced this comp, and figured out what I wanted to do. And now I feel like nothing’s happening and I’m not moving forward. I just want to go back to those months where I was kicking goal after goal and winning at life,” she told me.

What I wished I’d said back then was that it’s easy to desire this idea of always jumping from one mountaintop to the other. It’s easy to crave the cheap thrill of a victory over and over again. But it doesn’t work like that. We eventually have to come down from the mountaintop and live our life in the valley in-between. Because it’s in our everyday life that we get to encounter all the things that’s going to prepare and equip us for the next victory we’re about to have. Your valley may be teaching you how to be patient with people or how to handle your finances. It may give you the opportunity to be a follower so you’ll know how to be an effective leader. And what a pity it would be if you missed all that gold because you were too busy chasing after accolades and validation.

Instead of wondering why we aren’t there yet, we have to appreciate the valley we’re in and trust it’s preparing us for the next level. So for the people who are going to read this then go back to scrolling and feeling discouraged, know that your mountaintop moment will come again soon and you’re exactly where you need to be.

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Hey you,

I see you struggling to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe below and I’ll see you in your inbox next Wednesday!

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The Fault In Our Friendships

The following message was re-posted with permission. I get a lot of questions about friendship and finding the right people, and it seems to be a recurring theme in people’s lives. For some reason, friendships only get harder as we get older, so I wanted to post this as a way of letting you know that you aren’t the only one trying to figure it all out.

So I’m currently in a phase of post college working life. And I’m just questioning if my friends are just friends or proximity of actual friends. I love them, but I just don’t feel like they put in the effort to hang out or catch up. I understand we’re all busy cause of full time work and church etc. but I just miss them. When is it time to just let go and invest time elsewhere with people that are willing to invest time back? Or am I just thinking too much into it? I just feel like I don’t have any friends but I do. Are you still close friends if you don’t see or talk to each for weeks/months? I don’t know if this makes sense, but have you ever been in the position of having to reconsider your friendship circle / your inner circle?

I threw myself a birthday party last year.

Since I was overseas for my milestone 21st, I figured I would compensate by throwing a huge party for my 22nd. In reality, I procrastinated so long that by the time my birthday came around, I had no choice but to host a small get together instead.

When I set up the Facebook event and sent out the digital invitations, I was immediately flooded with anxiety over whether anyone would show up. I began to question if I had been a ‘good enough’ friend to others and wondered where I stood with certain people on the guest list.

The next day, I sat across from my counsellor and word-vomited all my angst over the event. Am I worth showing up for? Would my friends still make an effort even if I wasn’t offering a $1000 bar tab and a killer DJ?  

After a solid 20 minutes of me listing all my fears, she finally said “Have you considered that your friends might express their care in different ways?”

“You value showing up for people,” she told me. “It’s clear in the way you speak and the way you endeavour to be there for others. But your friends might express their love differently. They may prefer to send you a gift instead, or they may think that cooking a meal for you is more important than their presence at your party.”

And this mind shift made all the difference.

As a serial overthinker who values words and quality time, it can hurt when others are seemingly not making an effort to be there for me. Thoughts like ‘are they really a good friend?’ and ‘do I bother investing in them?’ can flit through my mind when I’m feeling overlooked or unloved. But I constantly have to remind myself that it’s rarely a reflection of their care for me, and actually a revelation on how they express it.  We’re all unique and that translates over to how we love on each other. I have to trust that, although they aren’t free until June or some ridiculous date, their heart is in the right place. It’s hard not to take it personally, but like every good relationship, the problem can be solved by just knowing how to communicate your needs and wants.

That being said, I also know that friendships go through seasons.

There have been periods of my life where I’ve leaned heavily on one group of friends, only to have Uni, work and other commitments, separate our course. As hard as it is to have people you were once close to, get pulled away, I also think there’s a lot of beauty in it. I’m a big believer that we all serve a purpose in each other’s lives. God always knows who we need and when we need them, and He is faithful in making sure our paths cross.

 There was a girl that I barely used to see. I was lucky if I even got a 5 minute one-on-one conversation with her. But now that we’re both forging new careers for ourselves, we get to spend so much time working together, supporting one another and pushing each other to keep moving forward.

In the same way, I used to see one of my closest friends all the time when we both really needed each other’s support and wisdom. Now that she works full time, I rarely get to see her but I know that it’s a new season for her to invest in her career and form friendships with her new co-workers.

The fact that you don’t get to spend as much time with certain people doesn’t de-value the quality of your friendship. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t friends anymore or it’s time to cut them off. ‘Being close’ to someone isn’t dependent on how often you see them, but on how safe you feel when you’re around them. There are people I see on a weekly basis who will only know what’s happening on the surface level, and there are those I only see yearly who know the words in every chapter of my life.

One of the bittersweet parts of life is that we don’t get to keep the people that come into our lives.

I used to wrap my self-worth around other people and look at the quantity of my friends as a measure of how ‘enough’ I was. But that’s a really dangerous position to be in – especially since we can’t mandate that the friends we love will stay with us forever.  No matter how much we declare that we’re going to be BFFS 4EVA, people get pulled in different directions. They may get married or have kids or move overseas, and we have to let them go. As a result, people leaving used to feel like literal stab wounds and I would take every single one personally.

I’m now learning that every friend I have is a blessing, not an entitlement.

People aren’t possessions that we can hoard and keep in our treasure chest forever.  They aren’t a measure of our worth or made to carry the burden of our expectations.

Now, when people leave, I let them go knowing that while they’ve been a blessing to my life, it’s now time for them to impact somebody else’s.

Then comes the age-old question: When is it time to re-invest in new friends?

In high school, I was friends with a group of girls who were fluent in tearing each other down. Secrets and gossip were basically our second language, and we’d always find a way to undermine each other. I can’t speak for the rest of the members, but I’m sure deep down we would leave each encounter feeling worse about ourselves and with large dents in our self-esteem. I never had the courage to break free until school ended. But if I could do it again, I would tell my younger self that life was too short to hang out with people who don’t know how to uplift and support one another.

The same thing happened in Uni when my values clashed with another friendship group. Although there were days when I would feel euphoric hanging out with them, when conflict inevitably struck and things got hard, I found out where their loyalties really were.

To this day, I still look back at that period of my life and refer to it as ‘the year I had no friends.’ It was heartbreaking and traumatic, but I can also look back and see God’s hand all over that crisis. If I hadn’t lost them, I wouldn’t have found the people who helped shape me into who I am today. Confident. Self-assured. And most importantly, joyful.

There’s a saying that you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. If that’s true, then you’d want to be intentional about who you’re spending time with. I can only speak for myself, but through all those ‘trial and errors,’ I now know that I want the people around me to be encouraging, others-focused and pursuing a great call on their lives.

To the person who sent this to me, and for anyone else questioning whether it’s worth staying friends with certain people- I can’t tell you what to do or who to stay friends with.

I don’t ever want to show up on this page and claim I have all the answers. It was so hard writing this and knowing there were ten different ways I could respond. Relationships are intricately complex and diverse, and I’ll probably write another post in a year’s time with a completely different opinion.

I don’t know where you are right now. Maybe you’re someone who got to stay friends with the same 5 people you’ve know since primary school. Or maybe you’re now trying to pick up the pieces of a broken friendship group and wondering if you’ll ever find people who just ‘get you.’

All I know is that friendship is one of those things that’s worth taking a risk. You need people around you that will remind you to keep going. To push you to be the best version of yourself. To call you out when you’re about to do something shady. Like every other relationship, you’ll act salty towards one another and then make up in the next week. You may inadvertently hurt each other, and someone will leave.

As someone who’s come out on the other side of many toxic friendships, I can still say that it’s worth going through the hurt to find the right people. You may not find them tomorrow. Or even by next week. But gosh, if there’s anything I know it’s that you were not made to do this life alone, and God will always give you the people you need.

Encouraging you always,

Ash xx

Know anyone struggling with friendships? Share this post with them!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe below and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered:: A note on Valentine’s Day

The tradition began in 2017.

I used to work for a global flower company, so I know just how crazy the world can get over Valentine’s Day. Nearly every industry hops in to capitalise on your emotions and convince you that you aren’t doing enough. It’s hard to escape from the reminders about LOVE and incredibly easy to feel overlooked. No matter how many times you tell yourself ‘it’s just another day,’ it can be hard to bury the feelings of loneliness and longing that threaten to rise up.

So two years ago I visited an indie stationary shop to find the pun-iest cards I could and scribbled a love letter to the friends who may be feeling overlooked. I licked stamps and posted it snail-mail style to their homes so they would have something special to wake up to on the 14th.

Sending out cards with handcrafted messages and knowing that someone was going to feel seen, encouraged and loved, has surprisingly become my favourite tradition of the year. If I could, I’d write every lonely heart that stumbles onto my page a handwritten letter that lets you know how utterly brilliant and significant I think you are. But all the stationary in the world wouldn’t be able to do it justice.

So here’s my digital letter to you.  


Hey you,

Firstly, you’re allowed to feel like punching the person who patronises you for being sad about your singleness. All of a sudden it feels like everyone becomes an expert when it comes to why you don’t have a partner. “Read more books,” someone once told me, as if the answers to my singleness could be found by flipping through endless pages. Although they carry good intentions, people can inadvertently say the wrong things when you open up about your dating struggles. They’ll question and pull apart everything about you such as whether you’re searching too much, if you’re putting yourself out there enough or if your relationship is right with God. Soon all you end up with is a laundry list full of inadequacies and all the ways you don’t measure up.

Be hyper-intentional about who you choose to be vulnerable with. Limit it to the people who know what to say to make you feel better and politely ignore the ones who hold out measuring sticks and point out why you aren’t enough. If you’re the type of person that needs a permission slip, let this be it: You’re allowed to feel sad, you’re allowed to feel lonely, you’re enough as you are. Your relationship status is not a reflection on you or whatever faith you hold.

I know how tempting it is to break out the spreadsheets and analyse why you haven’t been lucky yet or why someone who you secretly think isn’t as great as you are, managed to find their person first. But doing so will only drive you crazy and fuel the lie that good things are reserved for everyone else but you.

When I first moved into my new house, everything looked brand-spanking new from the outside and my friends gushed over how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful place.

“This house is such goals,” a friend squealed as I gave her a tour.

But upon closer inspection, we realised the builders had left behind some pretty significant flaws. Small ones at first, like a badly done paint job and a few missing tiles. But soon they were bigger issues, like misaligned kitchen cabinets and a horrifically constructed fence.

In the same way, it was really easy for me to assume that everyone’s relationship was perfect when I was scrolling through their Insta feed or looking from afar. But once I became privy to the intimate details of the relationship and found out what was really happening behind the scenes, I quickly learned that the reality didn’t quite match the picture-perfect version that was being portrayed online. All that to say, you have no idea what’s happening beneath the surface of someone else’s relationship or their life. You have no idea if the couples you’re admiring are in it for the long run or dating for dating’s sake. Although other people’s stories may be happening right now, hold onto the hope that soon, so will yours.

When I get really caught up in my feelings, I like to cave in to the belief that I’m too messy for anybody great to handle. It’s taken a lot of good friends to show me that this was another one of those bullshit lies our mind likes to offer up sometimes. We all think that we’re messy or too much or not enough to ever find someone who could fit us. But show me someone who is too much of a mess, and I’ll show you someone who dared to take in a chance in Life.

Years ago, I read someone say that they would rather have their heart cut and bleeding over the floor after daring to take a risk, than have it standing perfectly cold and pristine in the corner. I clung onto this so tightly and it’s become my favourite encouragement to give to anyone who’s wondering if the pain will ever go away. The messy ones are the ones that are warm, and brave and dared to put their heart on their sleeve. They are the ones to be admired. So don’t go adding it to the list of reasons why you’re not enough.

The person you are now is not the person you were two years ago, last month or even yesterday. You are forever growing and transforming, and so is your person.

As someone who used to be a secret writer of various YA fiction, I know that my most well-received stories are the ones where the protagonist has undergone great character development. Where they’ve experienced hardships or encountered obstacles that ultimately prepare them for the story line that’s about to unfold.

And I like to think that’s how each of our stories will pan out. Everything we’re doing, and everything that’s happening to us, is ultimately refining us into the person we’re supposed to be when we meet our significant other. I don’t have a timeline for you but when they come, you’ll be in your element, and he’ll be in his.

Above all, I know that there’s a well of untapped love and affection inside of you that you’re waiting to lavish on the right person. I used to hoard the amount of love I had, as if there was only a limited quantity I could offer the world. I’d go about my day and think about all the crazy date ideas and gifts I would get my person when he finally graced my doorstep, and I’d keep it all to myself just waiting and waiting.  

It was a long time before I realised that this was a scarcity mentality. You are not a squirrel that has to store nuts to survive in the Winter, and who has to bare your teeth at anyone who comes near your stash of love. You are a human being that’s been designed with an overwhelming capacity to love others.

The best thing I’ve ever done for myself on this romantic holiday & even on regular days, was to pour the love I’d reserved for my person, onto others. It was deciding that although they hadn’t come into my life yet, I wasn’t going to sit around and let my compassion for people wither away and grow bitter in the dark. Instead, I was going to show up and love others the best way I could. And if words and feelings are the best way I can serve people, then so be it.

The reality is that we’re broken humans living in a broken world. There are people who need you to see them. Like really see them. Like get -down-in- the- mud-and-look-at-them-in the eye type of see them. And what a shame it would be if we missed the people who really need us, all because we believed our love was only worthy of the romantic kind.

Because here’s the kicker:

Your love is not reserved for your significant other.

Your love has the ability to mend wounds and spark hope.

It is capable of inspiring encouragement and reminding people to keep pressing forward.

So on a day where the pressure is on to have the best, most Instagrammable moment, let’s bring it back to love.

Encouraging you always,

Ash x

Know anyone feeling angsty about V-Day? Show them love and forward this letter to them x

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe below and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

CHECK OUT THESE GEMS WRITTEN JUST FOR YOU

The Truth About Change

Ash Chow the truth about change

I flew home from England this time last year.

I’d completely forgotten about the date until I caught up with my friend Jess last week. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to bring the kindred spirits you meet overseas back home with you, and Jess was one of them.

“I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we’ve seen each other,” she said as we sat down. “What’s happened since then?”

A whole flurry of memories from our time abroad rushed through me as she said that. Some were nostalgic memories about the people I’d met, while others were of more traumatic incidents that I’d buried and repressed.

Then came the aftermath.

People who go on exchange or travel for an extended period of time like to joke about never wanting to come home. But for me, it was a hard fact. In the days leading up to my flight, I remember hoping that something would happen so I wouldn’t have to get on the plane. Maybe I could stay here for a few more months, I thought to myself- a sentiment that was destroyed once I checked the state of my bank account.

If I was strikingly honest, I was afraid of coming back home and feeling restricted by people’s judgements and the responsibilities of the real world. Above all, I was afraid of coming back to a place that I believed wouldn’t have good things for me.

And sure enough, once I landed, everything crumbled.

One of my favourite writers likes to label this point of time as the valley. The valley is something we all go through. It’s this rocky, cavernous space in-between each highlight moment that we have to navigate before reaching the top again. You might know it as the low point in your life when depression came back or when things felt stagnant, no matter how much you tried to move. It’s that place where you feel like giving up every two steps and you’re unsure if you’re ever going to see sunlight again. 

Time slows to a crawl when you’re in this emotional pit of despair. All of a sudden you become this fortune teller who only ever predicts crappy things about your future. This person would most likely go out of the fortune telling business in real life, yet when it comes to our lives and our voice, we’re quick to believe the bad things. 

My valley lasted for two whole months. This sounds like nothing in the grand scheme of things, but every day that passed felt as long as a year. All I could feel was anger towards a God that hadn’t pulled through on the promises He’d made, and a devastation that all I was ever going to know was the ache that stemmed from loss and heartbreak.

I’m only able to recount these memories now after looking back at my journals from last year and seeing every page with ‘I’m angry!’ and ‘This sucks!’ scribbled across it. But when I sat across from Jess and thought back to those moments last year, I could only feel a flicker of what used to be intense, fiery emotions.   

All this to say, so much has changed since I landed back in Melbourne a year ago. A lot of the beliefs I held about God not having good things for me are gone, and the things I cried over or worried about are now only distant memories. The worst outcomes that I’d believed for myself never came true, and when I look back on the things or people that hurt me, the only thought that reverberates across my mind is how ‘the victory is sweet.’

“Everything has changed since last year,” I told Jess.

Change.

That word used to be a death sentence to me. Whenever I was in a good place with friends, family and work, I would always pray that everything would stay exactly the same. I was so sensitive to it that on my first day of my 2nd year of Uni, I could actually feel that everything was different and I called a friend that night to cry about nothing being the same. We sold our old house a few months ago and I remember texting everyone that I wasn’t emotionally ready to move out even though our new place was literally 10 minutes down the road.

But a few weeks ago, I got a string of messages from someone going through their own valley season. She’d lost faith, felt forsaken, and was basically quoting lines from my journal right back to me. And turns out, the thing I said that gave her the most comfort was that ‘things change.’

The way things are now is not how they’re going to stay.

This can be an incredibly scary sentence depending on what position you’re in. For some, it can feel like a sense of foreboding that the triumphant mountaintop they’re on now could come crumbling down. But for others, it’s a comforting reminder that things will get better. That the feeling of grief or heartbreak or lost sense of hope, is not going to sit heavy on their chest forever. That they will not have to bunker down and declare their emotional pit of darkness ‘home’ for the rest of their lives.

Regardless of what feeling it evokes, change is inevitable and necessary. We are not meant to stay stagnant. Gosh, what a boring life we would lead if we were allowed to remain as we were. There would be no room for new beginnings or second chances or fresh relationships. There would be nothing to give us momentum or push us forward. We are intricately designed to move and evolve and grow, and funnily enough sometimes growing requires us to go backwards first.

My close friends who know my past like to tell me all the time that I’ve changed. Yet all I can see and feel is that I’m the same mess of a human being I always was. But I think that’s how change manifests itself sometimes. There won’t be a finish line that tells you to stop running, or a banner declaring you’ve made it. Instead, the best, long-lasting, transformative changes happen incrementally over a long period of time. You most likely won’t see all the ways you’re growing when you’re in the thick of your mess, but rest assured it’s happening.

So, at every point you feel defeated, remember to hold onto this- things change.

Know anyone feeling like they’re stuck in the same spot forever? Sharing is caring!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Need someone to show up for you?

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In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends.  I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

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Check Out These Other Gems Written Just For You:

How to Write About Pain

Sometimes life can slam into you and catch you off guard. I tried surfing for the first time this week so I was literally slammed into by waves. I’m sure my surfing experience will become the basis for a whole other blog post, but for now I’ve learnt that although the waves will keep coming, you don’t have to pick yourself up alone. When I couldn’t muster up the energy to write this week, my writer friend Rachel Kang kindly offered to take over for me. Although she lives halfway across the world, she has been such a light and a blessing. I know you’ll gain so much from her words.


Poison.

That’s the name of the first song I ever wrote.

I’d been sick, battling an incessant bout of sore throats. I later came to learn that this bout of sore throats wasn’t just a bout of sore throats—it was a bout with strep throat and, all those weeks, the strep throat had gone undetected and untreated.

I remember asking to sit on the sidelines in cheer practice and asking if I could just mouth the words without singing in chorus because I had no voice to yell or sing with.

These bouts with strep throat led to me developing, Rheumatic Fever—a rare disease that comes from untreated strep throat. It’s a triggering autoimmune condition that unleashes the antibodies in your body to fight against your own body.

It stole my heath and my heart; it stole my voice—my physical voice and my literal voice.

So I wrote.

I needed a song that reached the deepest depth of how I felt. So I wrote. I needed words that surfaced the sinking shoreline of my soul. So I wrote. I had no listening ears, none that would linger long enough to hear my broken heart day after day after day after day. So I wrote. I wrote because a journal doesn’t care how sappy you sound. It doesn’t fold in and close up when you set fire to its pages.

Like a punching bag, hanging high from the ceiling on chains that choke tight around to keep it suspended, a journal never gives—no matter how strong the punch is, it holds its own.

That’s why I wrote. And that’s why I think you should write, too.

I’ll never forget the words I penned for my song, “Poison.”

I can feel it
I know whenever it’s there
On my lips, on my tongue
I can feel it tear
At the voice 
That sings so strongly 
So weak, so fatigued
I can’t go on

Those words still touch me deep in places no other words can. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it’s because I wrote these words myself.

I’m sure there are places of pain in your heart—places where the sun hasn’t shined, places that are deep and are dark. Places begging to be seen or heard or understood. Begging for release and relief. So, here’s how you write about those places and that pain:

  1. Let your pain be personal before you make it public. Social media has made sharing our stories so easy; it’s become second nature to us to type up the things that we think and are feeling and to share them. I believe there’s a very defined differenced between writing to reveal and writing to heal. Writing to reveal makes sharing your story about others. Writing to heal keeps the process personal and preserves the purpose that your writing was first intended to serve. Writing that isn’t shared publicly is more prone to endure the practice of patience. By practicing patience, we give our hearts and our minds the space to process what is hurting, where it hurts, why it’s hurting, and what needs to happen to make sure that kind of hurt doesn’t happen again.

    Pray and push through your pain before you jump to promoting it. Sit with your pain before you seek to share about it. Rest, before you run to rush and tell the world about it. Linger in it for a little while, and then lean into the lesson that will inevitably come from it.
  2. Believe that journaling is a validated form of writing. Often times, people think that because their story of pain involves another person that they can’t write about it. That couldn’t be anymore far from the truth. The beauty about writing is that it can be all things: it can be a blog post that is public or a handwritten card that is only ever read by one. Writing can be quickly typing up an Instagram post that gets 1,000 double taps and hearts, or it can simply be a journal entry, to be seen by no eyes other than your own.
    The words in your journal are no less validated than the ones from that famous author on the pages of that book between your hands. Your writing doesn’t have to be popular in order to be powerful and your story doesn’t have to go public in order to be justified.
  3. Pick your poison. You’ve got to write in the way that best allows you to process and push through pain. When I write in my journal, I feel as though I’m able to write to release, to vent. But — it always just stops there; it’s never enough. When I write a song, though, I feel like I’m actually able to heal. I feel more free, I feel more moved to cry and sing and fight through how I’m feeling. When I blog, I feel as though I’m able to organize my thoughts. And, yet, I always feel like blogging is not a time for helping myself. Rather, my focus naturally rests heavily on writing to see others be helped. But, that’s just me personally.
    Writing your way through pain doesn’t have to look like someone else’s way. It doesn’t have to look like writing a best-selling novel or a sappy diary with lock and key. It might look like writing letters to yourself. Or keeping a notebook of poems by your bedside. Or an unpublished blog. Or iPhone notes in your phone whenever tears come bubbling to the surface.
  4. Don’t use published writing as way to get back at people. I learned this from a wise acquisitions editor from Revell back in 2012. There is a stark difference between writing that seeks to simply share a sentiment and writing that seeks to destroy. The closest thing I can compare this to is the kind of tension that takes place between rappers at odds with each other. Think Tupac and Biggie and their endless battle between each other through song. Decades later, both of their bodies laid in lower caskets beneath the ground, there’s no taking back or redeeming the violent words or the legacies they left upon this earth.
    When you look back on your words, do you want them to be written in such a way that they point to the rage and strife that you held against others? Or do you want your words to paint a picture of a person that pushed through their pain without dragging the names of others through the mud? A person who knew hurt (deeply and widely) but still found a way to heal, and help others too.

And your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. And you don’t have to bare it all or worry about doing it right. You need only to hold a pen in your hand and to touch its tip to the page. To make strokes and traces letters that form words.

Your heart will find its way from there.

Where do you see yourself falling on this list of thoughts on writing about pain? Do you feel as though this is something that you’re already doing, or trying to do? Or is writing about your pain hard to even think about, let alone write about?

Originally published on January 7, 2019 at www.rachelmariekang.com

Rachel Kang is a writer and editor. She is the creator of Indelible Ink, an online community for writers and want-to-be writers. She has written for (in)courageThe Daily Grace Co., and Charlotte Magazine, and is unapologetically passionate about words, stories, the creative process, deep cups of tea, and you. Hellos always welcome at Instagram.

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?


Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!


Gems written just for you:

Observations of Loneliness

When people find out that I write weekly on the internet, they inevitably ask where I get my inspiration from. If I’m honest, there’s 22 years’ worth of stories backed up in my mind, but sometimes the words don’t want to come out. This sounds strange for someone who’s literal job is to produce words on paper, but I have to respect that some stories are living entities that don’t want to be born before their time.

At times like this, I like to turn to my friends and ask what struggles they want me to write about. Because I don’t want this page to be about me. I may be drawing from my own experiences as a springboard, but it’s never been about me. At its simplest, I want this to be a place where people who’ve gone through hard things can come and feel understood.

And so, when it came time to find a topic last Wednesday, I asked a friend what she needed to hear.

“Write about loneliness,” she told me.

And I hesitated.

Loneliness is a subject I knew I’d have to open up about, but I didn’t feel like I could unpack such a weighty topic with the finesse or justice it deserved. So I copped out last week and re-posted something else. But since then, a lot of lonely hearts have been reaching out to me and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t delay this post any further. I’m learning that while there are some things that benefit from us sitting and waiting, there are others that we need to have the courage to speak up about- even when the words aren’t pretty.

So for the lonely ones, this post is for you.

***

I haven’t felt lonely in a long time.

I say that because there was once a time where all I felt was lonely. I was straight up dripping in loneliness. I couldn’t tell you what joy or excitement was, because all I had was years of heaviness and isolation wrapped around my bones. Loneliness would be there to greet me in the morning when I opened my eyes. And it would crawl into my bed every night like an unwanted visitor. I would go about my days with an achy, gaping hole in my heart wishing for something or someone to fill it, and I would despair that my whole life would be tainted with this longing.

Being able to write ‘I haven’t felt lonely in a long time,’ is a hopeful reminder that it passes. For someone who once thought that I would literally bleed out loneliness, this sentence is a reminder that it doesn’t sit on your chest forever. Like the majority of other emotions, it’s transient. Although it may feel like days, months, or god forbid, years, before it finally dissipates- it always does.

If you’re in the depths of a lonely period now, then that sentence likely won’t do anything for you. Loved ones have probably said it to you so many times now that it no longer has any soothing effect. It’s become as tired as a cliché. But the thing with clichés is that people wouldn’t repeat it unless it was true.

At its surface, I find loneliness is triggered when I notice it’s been a while since anybody’s checked in to say ‘hey’ or ‘how are you?’ Or when it feels like everyone in the world is having fun without me. My gut reaction is to wonder what’s wrong with me? What fatal flaw do I have that pushes people away or makes me not worth missing?

Now that I’m on the other side, I know that it’s rarely a ‘me’ thing. 80% of the time, people are likely too caught up in their own lives to think about reaching out. Although I don’t doubt that the intention and love is there, the execution can be lost. As easy as it is to turn inwards and nit-pick at our flaws, the truth is that we’re living in a world with other unique humans. Some people may express their love in different ways while others struggle to be the first to initiate a catch up. A lot of my friends have to recharge on their own before they have the energy to invest in others.  People not reaching out probably has nothing to do with you. Often, it’s a prompting to set an example and be the invitation.

Yet I also know that loneliness isn’t just about who’s messaging you every day. You can feel the ache of loneliness when you’re alone and wonder if you’ll meet anyone who fits you. Or you can feel the hollowness when you’re surrounded by people who don’t really know who you are.

When I’m brave enough to sit down with my loneliness and really look it in the eye, I find that it hits when I don’t feel seen and known. When I feel like I’ve been overlooked. Loneliness floods in when I feel misunderstood or like nobody ‘gets me.’ At our core, I think that’s what we’re all craving. We just want a tangible reminder that we’re not forgotten. That we’re seen and known in our entirety and every part of us is loved.

But babe, to be seen and known is to let other people in. There’s a tendency in us to want to come off as Neyo’s Miss Independent. We want the world to know what we’re killing it on our own and we don’t need no man, friend or missus.

But if I were to ask you to be really honest with me- like, gun-to- your-head-tell-me-the-truth-type-of-honest- I bet you’d tell me that you’re keeping people at a distance because you don’t want them knowing about the dark spots in your life. The things that cause you shame.  The opinions you don’t want to air. But if loneliness is here to teach you anything, it’s that you need people.

It’s coded into our DNA to love and lean on people. We were made to relate to others and to hear the words ‘me too,’ when we open up about the scary parts of our lives. Don’t brush off your desire for companionship or write it off as weak. Being open about needing people is the most courageous thing you can do. So tell the ones you love about the things that makes your heart ache, the things that keep you up at night or the wounds you’ve kept hidden. There are people who are just dying to understand everything about you, if only you just give them the chance. For so long I’ve thought that a lot of my past was too shameful to let anyone know. But all of us are just looking for someone to connect with. Loneliness dissipates when you begin to let others in to your dark spots.

The danger comes when you rely too much on people. Your loneliness reveals the things you’re relying on to plug up the holes in your life and be your saviour. To be lonely is to feel endless waves of hurt and angst, and it’s tempting to seek solace in someone else’s arms or the Disney movies on Stan. But there comes a point where you have to really ask yourself if you’re just using other people to distract you from the discomfort in your life?

A few years ago, when loneliness was all I felt, I would claw at anything and anyone just to avoid acknowledging the gaping hole in my heart. I would message people I had no business messaging and start conversations so I would feel a little less lonely. There was once someone I clung onto so hard because I didn’t want to have to sit with my own thoughts. Even though I knew I had to let him go, I would always reach back out again when it got too hard. In the game of push and pull, I would always be the winner.

I think we’ve all been guilty of clinging onto people who have long outgrown their storyline in our lives because we don’t want to deal with the aftermath of loneliness when they leave. But we run the risk of turning people into collateral damage when we do so. More often than not, those relationships end up disintegrating and two hearts inadvertently get hurt. This idea of collateral damage is a whole other post for a whole other Wednesday. But for now, I try my hardest to check myself and make sure I don’t play with people’s emotions as a distraction.

You can ask people to sit in the mess with you for a while. You can try your best to describe what it feels like to hurt on the inside, all whole knowing that your words will barely scratch the surface of what it feels like to ache with loneliness. But you can’t place people on a pedestal and ask them to rescue you.

Loved ones would tell me that I had to really be comfortable with who I was alone before I could ever invite someone else to be a part of my life. And I would hate that. Like really hate that. I’d have to resist the urge to throw something at the person who said that to me. Because I wasn’t a stranger to being alone. I’m the self-proclaimed Queen of losing people and having to pick up the pieces by myself.

But it’s one thing to squirm through the whole lonely period while clawing at others to distract you. It’s another thing entirely to be able to sit with the discomfort and find its purpose.

When I sit down with others and tell them about the dark period in my life, they inevitably say that they would never have imagined I was lonely because I was always surrounded by friends. All to say, that no one is immune from loneliness. There’s no vaccination you can take. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising and setting. It comes and it goes.

Loneliness will strike me again at any time. It may come as soon as I stop writing this and watch other people have fun without me on social media. Or it may lay dormant for a while only to come raging back in full force on Feb 14th. Loneliness can feel like a pit in our stomach even when we’re with lots of people. Or it may feel cold and hollow when you sit across from someone and feel like they don’t really know who you are.

Something beautiful happens in your loneliness though. It’s something you’ll only be able to see once you’re past all the heaviness and angst, but rest assured it’s there. Loneliness is what it means to be human. It’s up there along with love and joy. As much as you’ve always wanted to fast forward through the achy breaky parts in your life, loneliness is there to widen your capacity for love. It breeds in you a deep compassion, astounding empathy for the hurting ones and an appreciation for who you are when you’re on your own.

Know anyone that feels lonely? Sharing is caring!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

Gems written just for you:

Pushing Through The Fear

This piece originally appeared on the Eight Hundred Words blog, but fear is one of those emotions that never strays far from us. I heard someone say today that ‘Fear and Excitement can feel like the same thing in our stomach,’ and I wondered how many times I’ve avoided doing something because I was fearful. This piece may apply to writing, but it doesn’t change the message behind it. Fear doesn’t get to win. You do.

‘Don’t you want to change the world?’ flashed the text on my screen. I actually laughed out loud when I read it. The notion of me, a twenty-one-year-old who’s barely completed her degree, changing the world was so absurd I spat out my coffee.

The night before, I had sent (yet another) message to my friend, vomiting all my worries and fears into the little text block on Messenger. I’d whined that my words probably weren’t going to be good enough to be published by anyone. I wondered if it was too pretentious to call myself a ‘writer’ if I only had one self-published article online. I asked a bunch of ‘what if’s’ and ‘who did I think I was to set up a platform and be a voice.’

I typed out a whole essay, and he sent me back seven words.

Don’t you want to change the world?

To his credit, those words did stop me worrying. But only for five minutes. Then I went back to overthinking every little decision I was about to make.

I’ve written a lot about fear lately. Heck, I scored my first client because of my words on fear. I think what makes me an expert is that me and fear go way back. He was there when I wanted to apply for Class Captain but didn’t because I was scared of rejection. He lurked in the background years back when the writing itch first began and made me fearful of what people thought. He showed up every time I wondered if I was worthy of more in my life, and he always shut me down.

You see, fear is the guy you didn’t want to invite to your party but felt obligated to. He is a stage five clinger who latches to your side the entire night and begs to be the centre of your attention. When all you want to do is be the life of the party, he whispers taunts in your ear to keep you off the dancefloor. Fear wants to rob you of every little thing that could make you great. He loves seeing you doubt your ability to string together words and weave stories from your imagination because it keeps you small.

So let this be your pep talk today: Fear does not get to win. Fear does not get to smother your dreams to death. Sometimes the only way to get over it is to just do the damn thing. Sure, you may come out on the other side with a bruised ego – but you’ll still be alive! Fear shrinks every time you dare to step forward.

If you want to call yourself a writer, do it loud and proud. Forget this idea that to be ‘legit’ you need fancy by-lines, a publisher or get paid per word. If you write with intention, you’re a writer. Words have power and you need to speak out your own destiny.

If you want to set up a website and claim your domain name–go ahead and put your money where your mouth is. You don’t want fear delaying you for so long that someone else with the same name claims that website first.

If you want to post about your work, just do it. You are your first cheerleader. No one else will advocate for you as hard as you should for yourself. People may scroll right on through or they may roll their eyes. But someone needs the ideas and stories and wisdom you have to offer the world. Your story might be the lifeline they need to keep going. I always tell myself that even if only one person resonates with my words, it would be worth it .

I wish I could tell you that the anxious thoughts that dart around your mind and the urge to throw up will stop once you hit Point X on the map. That once you publish a certain number of articles or achieve the most notable byline, you’ll never feel the angsty clenching in your heart again. The truth is: fear is a constant companion. He’ll tag along whenever you even think about

venturing outside your comfort zone or pursuing ‘something more.’ And gosh, I hope you’re constantly going on new adventures and saying yes to uncertainty. That’s what makes our lives so exciting.

You may think that just because I’m writing this, it means I’ve got it figured out (spoiler alert: I don’t). I still juggle fear every day–he just takes on different personas to the one I’m used to. But I have to decide every day that fear doesn’t get to smother my dreams anymore.

My friend was right to ask if I wanted to change the world. Maybe changing the world isn’t just setting up a multi-billion-dollar corporation or achieving ‘world peace.’ Perhaps it’s feeling the fear and moving forward anyways. When 99% of your head is screaming at you to stay insignificant, trust the 1% that whispers ‘just try.’

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

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What People Don’t Want To Know About Self-Belief

happy girl what people don't want to know about self belief ash chow

It’s been a month and a bit since I’ve started consistently posting on Wednesday’s and actually telling people about it. I know I keep counting the weeks, but it’s just astounding to me that I’m still here. It’s astounding to me because I’m always plagued with discouragement and wonder if my stories are really worth following along.

Although- that’s not true.

I know there are people reading who benefit from this more than I ever hoped.  

On New Year’s Eve, two beautiful souls gifted me a framed collage made up of all the thoughts and feelings people felt after reading this corner of the internet. In the early hours of the 1st of January, I read the compilation of love letters people had written to me to say that they could feel the depth of emotion in my words, and they felt seen and understood. It was the most thoughtful gift I’d ever received, and a tangible expression of the impact I’d always hoped to have. At the start of a new year, I felt empowered, celebrated and motivated to keep going.

But only for two days.

The next time I had to sit in front of a blank page and figure out what to write for that week, I felt anxious again.  I would get high-key stressed about sewing parts of my heart onto the page and putting it out to the universe, only for people not to care or show up. The same thoughts would run around my mind, like a tortured hamster who was forced to stay on his wheel, and I would wonder if it would really be a big deal if I just stopped showing up to the page.  

Often, in the midst of angst, uncertainty and yet another existential crisis, the help we need comes from unexpected sources. Kindred spirits are conjured up from thin air. The hope you needed to keep going may be found in a blogpost you might not ordinarily read but felt compelled to anyway.

People and words have always been the balm that helps soothe my wounds, and I’m a sucker for calling a bunch of people when I need help wading through my emotional mess. So is it really a surprise that on the brink of giving up I would meet someone who encapsulated both of those things?

As someone who used to be fluent in the art of losing people, I’m astounded by the way God crosses our paths with the ones who help us unravel our jumbled thoughts.

We met quite by accident.

While I was waiting on the phone to vent and cry to someone else, he picked up instead. He was one of those rare, old souls that knew how to help you wade through the swamp of your emotions, but also knew how to call out the good things he could see in you. I would call him a guardian angel, but I’ve learnt it’s irresponsible to place other fallible humans on a pedestal to be worshipped. So maybe we’ll just call him a friend.

When the anxious thoughts began to invade my mind and crush my chest, I called him again to ask what I should do. I regurgitated the same thoughts about feeling discouraged and waited for him to drip feed me all his comforting wisdom.

Instead, he asked “How many people is it going to take for you to believe in yourself?”

Have you ever wanted to punch someone in the face because you know they’re right, but you also don’t want to hear it?

 All we could hear was the fuzziness of the phone line as I let the implication of his words sink in.

How many messages will it take for you to feel good?

How many people have to validate you before you feel legit?

How much affirmation and confirmation do you need to fill the holes in your Swiss Cheese heart?

“I guess it’s just easier for me to fall back on the narrative that I’m not going to succeed and that this isn’t going to be worth it,” I explained to him.

“So…it’s easier for you to not believe in yourself than it is to challenge yourself?” He said wryly.

Again, I resisted the urge to hang up the phone.

“Yes…” my voice trailed off as I contemplated the absurdity of that sentence.

And it is absurd.

I would shake the shoulders and metaphorically slap any loved one who told me that they didn’t believe enough in themselves to keep persevering. I’d give all the pep talks, hold them accountable and make sure they were implementing the baby steps that would get them off their butt and moving forward.

It’s easy to push other people out of their comfort zone, but when it comes to us, we’d rather cover our ears and stay comfortable.

I am the Queen of staying comfortable. I bet you are too. We crave comfort so much that we’d rather stay snuggled under the blanket of thoughts that tell us we aren’t good enough, this isn’t going to work or it’s too damn hard, because we think it’s going to keep us safe and warm.

Except it’s not.

If you dared open your eyes and take a good hard look around, you’ll realise these thoughts are just lies designed to keep you in one spot. But even after knowing the truth, we still stay curled under those blankets. We’re a generation that longs for escapism, yet we don’t actually like the change and the challenge that comes along with it.

On Boxing Day, I bought a pair of really beautiful, high quality, tan sandals. It’s now January and they’re still sitting untouched in the box they came in. I’m still walking all over the city in my old pair of shoes where the heels are worn down and the straps are badly frayed.  You might think it’s crazy for me to attach myself to them, but I’ve worn them so many times that they’ve moulded to my feet. They’ve been with me on all my adventures. I know the exact fit and feel of them so well that trying to wear anything else would feel wrong.

While I was thinking about these shoes, I was reminded of something a mentor once told me.

“You have this habit of running back to the old things in your life that you can’t even see all the new things that are right in front of you. God has a whole new life He wants to give you, but are you ever going to reach out and take it?”

***

I don’t know how long you’ve been conditioned to crave the thoughts that keep you in one spot.

But I know that even attempting to believe anything different will feel so wrong and so weird that it’s easier to slip your feet back into the old pair of shoes. You know, the ones that carry you down the path of fear and inadequacy. Because of this, we find it hard to believe anyone who says there are good things ahead of us. We struggle to reach out and seize it because it’s easier to believe the lie that we’re not worthy rather than get disappointed yet again.

But anything that makes you into a better person will require a constant re-shifting of the things you repeat to yourself, and above all – a fight.

People will fight hard to believe in magic, sparkly vampires and the Avengers, yet they can’t imagine a reality where they believe in themselves.

Self-Belief isn’t a nicotine patch that you slap on once and expect to be cured from the addiction to your deprecating thoughts. It doesn’t come from 100 people telling you how much potential you have or 200 double taps on the screen. It’s a day by day thing. It’s waking up and choosing to wrestle with the thoughts that moan ‘come back to the blanket of lies.’

I’ve spoken to dozens of entrepreneurs, listened to every motivational speaker and every podcast host, and they all say the same thing. Self- Belief is a you thing. It’s there. It’s literally in the name. It’s an inside job no one else can complete but Y-O-U.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t lean on your people. It doesn’t mean that you can’t ask them to rally around you or support you. But your cheerleaders can only cheer for so long before their throats get hoarse. It’s going to be up to you to keep rallying around yourself when everyone else falls away.

My friend on the phone was right to ask me how many people I needed to believe in me before I believed in myself. All the external praise in the world won’t do anything for you if you can’t learn to validate yourself first.

People can hold up the mirror to show you the dark spots, sit with you in your mess, and hold one end of your string of jumbled thoughts. But it has to be you that does the work of untangling the lies that you’re not going to make it. No one else but you.

That’s a really scary sentence to process. Until you realise it’s actually freeing. The person you’ve always wanted to come along and save you from your deprecating thoughts has always been you babe.

No one else but you is going to know whether you’ve done the work to change your perspective and believe in yourself.

 But you’re the one who’ll get all the benefit baby.

Only you.

Know anyone doubting themselves lately? Sharing is caring!

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

Need more encouragement? Check out these gems:

All The Love a New Year Won’t Give You

Cute outdoor garden cafe

It’s Day 002 of 2019 and I’m not going to sit here and talk to you about your New Year’s resolutions. I’m not going to give you advice or encourage you to write all the goals you need to become a better person.

I’m sorry, I’m just not.

Because I’m sure in the last few days you’ve been inundated with posts and captions and stories about all the things people are doing to become shiny and new.

We humans love new. We love the shine and sparkle of a fresh start or a new present. I know I’m not the only one who promises to take extra care when I get hold of a brand-new gadget. I make sure I set it down on the counter softly. I imagine all the ways my life will become better because of this innovative piece of tech. I encase it in a hard-shell case and I’m careful not to bump it against anything. But when the shine inevitably wears off and it’s suffered from a few dents and bruises, I’m back to tossing it around, being nonchalant about dropping it, and forever testing the limits of its strength.

 I think most of us approach the New Year like that. Heck, that’s how we approach a new week. A new year seems like a fresh start. We truly believe we can become a different person once the clock ticks past midnight. We put this ideal version of ourselves- the one that works out every day or drinks green smoothies-  on a pedestal and hope that the new year will really bring about a new me. We treat it like a reset button that deletes all the terrible habits we’ve accumulated throughout the year, like midnight snacking and putting three sugars in our coffee.  Above all, it’s blank slate containing no mistakes.

I remember when the clock struck midnight at the start of 2018.

Actually- no.

I don’t remember.

That’s because when the countdown ended, and the fireworks shot off into the sky, my head was jammed down the toilet throwing up the contents of my stomach because of one too many drinks. And so that’s how it started. Day 001 of 2018 began on the backend of a culmination of mistakes. Ones that I had been pushing down and desperately trying to avoid the consequences of. On the morning of the first of January, I cracked my bleary eyes open in a European hostel and felt shameful dread after reliving blurry memories of the last two months. I couldn’t help but believe the lie that this was going to set the tone for the rest of the year. That a precedent had been set for 2018 to unfold as disappointingly and as tragic as that first day. That the choices I’d made would cause ripple effects that would delay the dreams and fantasies I wanted to happen, as if a roadblock would erupt somewhere and divert all the things that I’d been hoping for onto a slower, longer route. The date on my phone flashed to say it was a new year, yet I still held on to all the mistakes that had been haunting me at the end of 2017.

I think so many of us like to give in to the lie that any wrong move we make will permanently shut the door on the things we want. We believe the choices we make carry a whole ton of weight, so we’re rendered paralysed when it comes to making a decision. Do I say yes to this invitation? Do I apply for this job? Do I date this person or should I wait? If we do make a choice that turns our badly, we feel like the whole house of cards has come tumbling down, and our efforts to rebuild will mean it’ll take extra-long before we finally get the things we want.

I remember coming back home and trying to explain to my friends why I felt this way. While holding back tears, I would tell them that surely my mistakes meant I was going to be disqualified in God’s eyes or that it would delay the arrival of the person I wanted to date. And surely it meant that my purpose in life was constantly going to elude me and that the string of bad decisions I’d made basically sealed my fate as a spinster who would always repel good things.

Maybe you think I’m being dramatic, but I know I’m not the only one who can feel like they’ve screwed up their whole life after one mistake. We believe that our actions are forever capable of screwing up the plans for our life.

But I just don’t think you’re that powerful.

I’m sorry. You’re just not.

Why do we believe we have so much power to wreck things, but not enough to start fresh? We’re big and mighty when it comes to ruining things in our lives, but when it comes to deserving the good things we see ourselves as too small and insignificant.

You’re not powerful enough to deter the plans for your life or the things that are meant to be yours.

If that were true, we would never ever receive good things. And I don’t want to believe that about your life. I know it’s really easy to repeat to yourself that nothing good ever happens to you. That sentence used to loop around my mind on repeat because I really couldn’t see any of the good things I had. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you to look for the little things: like that one friend who knows exactly what to say or the fact that ice cream exists in this world.

Maybe these are superficial examples, but sometimes that’s enough. You wouldn’t discount the beautiful, little things that you see in someone you love, so why would you discount yourself?

You’re not powerful enough to ruin the plans for your life.

But you are powerful enough to persist through each day and keep walking even when it’s dark and foggy.

You’re powerful enough to give yourself a fresh start any day you want.

All I know is that I spent January and February of 2018 feeling like I was the biggest screwup and that I had to spend the rest of the year paying my dues. There were days when I thought I would forever be trudging through the longest valley and always lost in the wilderness. But then the other 10 months of the year birthed something new and unexpected. People left and people entered. New parts of myself were discovered and things were whispered in my ear that soothed my soul. I took chances and said yes to people, only to have them turn around and say no. I shed so many litres of tears that I felt permanently dehydrated. And yet I still got up and surprises still happened. Now I know that just because things start off as foggy or feels difficult, or even just plain boring doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be.

There’s 363 days left before the next countdown. 363 days of things, events and opportunities you know nothing about. It’s normal if that sentence scares you. It might just mean it’s a year where you’re going to carve out something different for yourself. The opportunities you never expected to happen because you thought you’ve screwed up your life, will knock on your door. The dreams you thought were going to be delayed may show up in unexpected ways.

No matter how your New Year’s turned out, and no matter what you’re feeling on this 2nd day, I hope 2019 is a year of rebuilding what you’ve lost.

I hope it’s a year where the hard times help you discover a different part of yourself, and I hope it’s the year you finally begin to let others in.

I hope it’s a year where you know how to pick yourself up after an inevitable fall.

I hope it’s a year where all the stars are closer.


Hey you, 

I don’t ever want this corner of the internet to be a one-sided conversation. If I could sit across from you and talk to you about all the jumbled thoughts & feelings you hold in that big heart of yours, I would. So let me know how you’re feeling about the new year in the comments below. I’ll be reading and responding!

Ash x

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Hoping to start off the year on the right foot? Then you need to be part of The Wednesday Club.

Everyone struggles to get through Humpday. It’s this dreaded, in-between, mess of a day where time slows to a crawl and your weekend is delayed. Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

Except if you’re part of the Wednesday Club!

In just a click, you can look forward to me showing up in your inbox with a sprinkle of confetti and encouragement to make Humpday fly by so you’re closer to dancing on the weekends. 

I won’t be like your flaky Tinder date. I’ll show up on time, every time, with insightful conversation, fun stories & a mission to leave you feeling inspired.

So what are you waiting for?

Enter your email to receive confetti and encouragement in your inbox every Humpday!

New here? Check out these babies: