Hey You, Life Gets Better

To know me is to know that my best words come pouring out when I write letters to myself. I submitted this to a magazine last year, but it was such a big piece of my heart that I felt it deserved some space on this page too. No matter how old you are, let this letter to my 20 year old, angsty self, be a reminder that life does get better.

Hey girl,

I can’t remember our 20th birthday.

The only memories I have are a blur of countless drinks, loud music, puking in the shower and mistakes being made. As you lie in bed surrounded by shame and scolding yourself for all the mistakes you’ve made in your lifetime, I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with you. I can tell you with absolute certainty that you reach a healthy place in your life where you can look back at your past and not hate yourself. That’s my constant prayer for us going forward- that we no longer beat ourselves up for the things that are out of our control.

You won’t get there overnight though. Even though you discover God months before you turn twenty, it’ll take you another year before you learn that not a single part of you is a mistake. Not your craving for affection or how you feel everything so deeply or the way people fall in and out of your life. Not your awkward sense of humour or the way you attract disaster like how pollen attracts bees. I’ll tell you now that the pain that stems from making mistakes and experiencing regret actually pushes you to choose better for yourself.

The journey to learn about who you are and what gifts you have to offer the world will be one of the best adventures you embark on. But you won’t enjoy it at first. You’ve always expected the big life changing moments to come with flashing signs in the background declaring ‘Your Life Changes Here.’ But you’ll experience crushing disappointment and an inability to live in the moment if you’re constantly waiting for fireworks to show up.

Instead, embrace every moment for what it is. Learn that miracles can be grand experiences- like your life being saved at the last minute. But small moments can be miraculous too, like how constant heartbreak gives you the words you need to console your sobbing flatmate. Even though you’ve loathed the countless rejection that’s chipped away at your self-worth, you’ll say to God that it was all worth it if you could help one person feel less alone.

You’ll meet people who speak things over your life that makes some of the puzzle pieces click into place; like how words of affirmation are your love language. You’ll use this to teach people how to love you well, and you’ll share your stories to guide others out of their darkness.

Other things will take a while for you to accept. You take the Enneagram test that’s all over Instagram and nod vigorously when it compares you to Drake because you’re moody and always ‘in your feelings.’ You’re still trying to figure out how to separate your emotions from facts. Don’t worry. We’ll get there.

When you’re labelled a ‘creative,’ you’ll scoff out loud as you remember all your failed papier-mâché projects from primary school. But that word will persistently knock on your heart and dare you to try it out. You put two and two together- your love for words and your messy mistakes- and it clicks that this is how you’ll leave your mark on the world. By serving others with your words.

Some parts of yourself are absolutely beautiful to discover and you’ll love yourself more because of it. But some things will force you to look in the mirror and evaluate hard. When a psychologist you meet at a bar in Budapest analyses you in two seconds and tells you ‘You’re someone who fears social rejection,’ you’ll realise you’ll never be satisfied if you’re constantly chasing the world’s approval and acceptance of you.

You become self-aware when you sit with your emotions- no matter how uncomfortable- and figure out the lie that’s making you depressed. You’ll learn there’s a relentless demon in your mind screaming at you that you’re not good enough, and you’ll have to wage a daily war to remind yourself that this isn’t true. “I am enough” is a daily mantra we repeat to ourselves, even if we don’t believe it. But remember- it’s not a feeling. It’s fact. 

You’ll call fear out by his name after realising he’s dictated all of the decisions in your life. You’ll beg and plead for him to just leave you the hell alone. But I’m here to tell you that fear will always be a constant companion. He’ll tag along whenever you venture outside your comfort zone or pursue ‘something more.’ So stop resisting the fear so much and say yes to adventure and uncertainty. Life gets so much more interesting when we do.

But girl, let me just say that this year ends up being the most amazing year. You won’t believe it now as you lie on the bathroom tiles puking your guts up. But it will be. Gosh, the people you’ll meet. The friends who show up. The joy you’ll experience. The places you’ll fall in love with and the stories you etch into your bones. Never did you think you’d be able to overfill a room with people who choose to show up for you. But you do. So, as you grieve the events of your 20th birthday, wondering if life will ever get any better, I’m here to tell you it does. Gosh, it does.

Love,

Older, self-assured, always enough, you.

The Reminders You Need Today

I woke up early today intending to write a post that would speak to your needs, only to still have a blank page at 9am. Ideas were swarming around but nothing was sticking.

Some days call for flowy words and beautiful metaphors to remind us to stay hopeful. And some days, we just need someone to tell us the truth without any fluff.

I promise to validate the heck out of your emotions on every other post, but today I’m just going to give you the reminders you didn’t even know you needed.


Stop waiting for permission and just do the damn thing. I ‘ummed and aahed’ for so long before I ever considered forging my own path and publishing something online. I asked for 10 different people’s opinions and still kept procrastinating on my vision before I ever took action. If you keep waiting for support, you’re going to get left behind by the people who aren’t looking for a pat on the back. Understand that not everyone is going to support you 100% because it may seem completely left field, but other people’s opinions shouldn’t be the reason why you give up. Stop asking and start doing.

You don’t need their approval.

Whoever’s face flashed into your mind as you read that- that’s the person you need to stop begging for acceptance. Bending over backwards and changing yourself to gain their approval isn’t serving anyone at all. One day, you may gain their respect, or you may not. Either way, their opinion of you doesn’t detract from your worth or the impact you have. You are a light and lights don’t stay hidden.

Speaking of staying hidden, stop downplaying your gifts. Stop hiding what you really want to do because it contradicts with your current path or because you’re scared no one will get it. I used to speak about my writing in hushed tones and only tell people about it in parking lots like a shady drug deal.  But all I was doing was just making myself smaller. Be bold and unapologetic about the things that give you life and make you get up in the morning.  

If you don’t actually know what lights you up or what you want to do in life, that’s fine. The majority of adults are still trying to figure it out. I always wanted my life’s calling to be handed to me in a manual with all the instructions intact. But where’s the fun in that? It’s in the uncertainty and the confusion that you unexpectedly find what you’re looking for.

For anyone that’s currently wandering aimlessly in a fog and confused about the direction their life is going, trust me when I say that the fog is a good thing. It’s the first step to making a breakthrough. The fog forces you to ask if you really like the direction you’re headed or if you’re just following someone else’s journey. Perhaps this is the opportunity you’ve always needed to chart a new course for yourself.

You need to stop thinking it’s the end of the world when you fail or when someone rejects you. Failure gives you stories to tell during an awkward silence at a dinner party, and rejection literally saves you from settling. It’s a time saver, not a time waster.

One of the bittersweet parts of life is that we don’t get to keep the people that come into our lives. I read somewhere that the people in the Pilot episode of our sitcom, won’t necessarily be there in the season finale. And I think that’s a beautiful picture. People come and go, but the next season always brings in new characters to support the protagonist. When someone leaves, let them go with the blessing that they now get a chance to impact somebody else’s life.

Savour the humble beginnings. Relish the seasons when no one is watching you or expecting you to keep performing. It may hurt when you look at how much traction others have gained while you’ve only taken two steps. But you have no idea what’s happening behind the scenes of their story. Just stay faithful to what you have and keep showing up to your craft and your journey. The rest will fall into place.

Stop finding reasons to run away. One day, the thing you’ve been waiting for will grace your doorstep. For once, it’ll be nearly everything you’ve asked for, and it’ll be so unexpected that it may take a while for your feelings to catch up. Your knee jerk reaction will be to nitpick at flaws till you find a reason to end it. But know that beautiful things take time to unfold and that applies to your feelings as well. Savour the slow burn and trust the process.

Speaking of feelings- you’re allowed to have them. So many people go about life desperately trying to hide the fact that they feel anything but happy and joyful. Your painful feelings are just as valid and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s tempting to want to fast forward through the achy breaky parts of your life. If the remote from the movie Click was real, I’d buy it in a heartbeat to skip the emotionally turbulent times. But the painful stuff increases your sensitivity for all the beautiful feelings as well. It widens 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.

You are worthy of good things. I know it’s easy to look at other people and believe that beautiful moments are only reserved for everyone else but you. But that’s not true. Your story may look a little different and it may not be what you expect, but how boring would it be if we all received the same things at the same time. Just hold on. Good things are coming for you too.  

Know that 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.

Above all, know that there’s nothing wrong with you. The world will try and magnify your flaws, but your life can either be all about fixing yourself or serving others well.

You were not born with missing parts and attached to a label that says ‘defective.’ No. You are utterly unique and created for a purpose.

Encouraging you always,

Ash x

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB

Hey you, I see you struggling to get through humpday .

 Let’s be honest- nothing exciting ever happens to anyone on a Wednesday…

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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…

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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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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Girl, Speak Up!

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This was originally published in The Dejure Club newsletter a couple of months ago, but it’s an issue that still continues to hit close to home. Maybe you’ve never struggled with speaking up or people pleasing. But if you have, this letter is for you. 

Confrontation makes me upset.

This isn’t something you want to figure out near the end of your Law degree. But it’s true. I hate making others feel uncomfortable, and I’m prepared to let a lot of things slide. It’s to the point where if a waiter brought me the wrong order, I would take it just to avoid making a fuss.

It wasn’t until I was sitting across from a friend that I realised how toxic this pattern of behaviour was. With latte’s clasped in our hands, he blamed me for everything that went wrong. Even though he’d misinterpreted my actions, I found myself shouldering the whole blame and apologising for everything even though he’d also played a significant part in hurting me.

Why did I do that? Why did I completely invalidate my own hurt and excuse his actions just so he could feel ‘right’? As I reflected on this, I realised I was almost always playing down my own needs and diminishing my feelings to make others feel comfortable. If someone was rude to me, I’d laugh it off. If someone disrespected me or spoke down to me, I’d bite my tongue and bury the hurt.

I don’t know how or why, but somewhere along the way I learnt to be submissive and a pushover. I don’t advocate my own needs because I’m afraid to hurt others or rock the boat. But where does that leave me?

Another friend was constantly cancelling on me at the last minute. I’d always make excuses for them like ‘they’re busy, so it’s understandable’ or ‘they have a lot on their plate, it’s fine.’ But with every ‘It’s fine’ or ‘No worries!’ text, I realised I was validating their behaviour. I was implicitly saying that it was ok for them to disrespect my time and keep flaking out on me because I’d never get mad.

Here’s the thing: if you don’t tell people their actions bother you, they’ll never figure it out. If you don’t assert your boundaries and your needs, people will continue to repeat their ways and you’ll continue to be walked over. If you don’t respect your own feelings, how can you expect others to?

I think a lot of this stems from fear. Fear that people will leave us if we come off as too difficult or not eager to please. Fear that we aren’t as ‘important’ as others. So we undermine our position, compromise on our priorities and play off our pain.

But girl, can I tell you something?

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are worthy of being heard. You are allowed to assert your needs. You are allowed to say no.

Someone else’s age, race or position of authority does not make them ‘better’ than you. It does not give them licence to devalue you or make you feel ‘less than.’ It is one thing to give grace. It’s another thing entirely to let others take advantage of your selflessness. If you are constantly being walked over or looked down on. If someone makes you feel like your feelings are invalid or you’re unworthy – then girl, you have got to speak up!

And so, for anyone who has ever felt misunderstood, unheard, or unseen. For the ones who have been too scared to speak up. I see you. I am with you. I am for you. So now I’m standing up for myself. Yes, give more grace than you get. Yes, give others the benefit of the doubt. But stop invalidating your needs or feelings for others. Girl, speak up!


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Mind Your Business

safe spaces and favourite places
Yeet Pray Love @goonellie

“You need to mind your own business,” she told me.

Not the words you want to hear while in the throes of another heartache, but necessary words nonetheless.

It’s 2018 and everything you ever need to know is accessible in the palm of your hand. You can track in real time exactly what your friends are getting up to tonight. You can instantly look up the fact that there are more stars in the skies than particles of sand, just to win an argument. You can even get Pad Thai and a date to share it with, delivered to your doorstep in just two swipes.

I’m guilty of spending hours lying in bed, scrolling on my phone and checking out the highlights of other people’s lives. I justify it by saying I just want to see how the other half live. The ones who are inspiring me to chase my dreams. To watch the friends I’ve made on the other side of the world, kick ass.

But what happens when I scroll pass something I don’t want to know about?

A change in relationship status

A new job update

A tagged meme I wasn’t included in

A party I’ve missed out on

I can get very easily bogged down after an intense scrolling session or when I’ve lurked on a profile for too long. Especially when FOMO hits and I find out news that rubs me the wrong way or leaves a sick feeling in my stomach.

And so, on this particular Friday night when I should have been capitalising on my 20s and making questionable decisions, I found myself curled up in the foetus position on her bed having yet another existential crisis. Friends who let you rock up at their house at odd hours of the night, and open up their bed or couch to you, are solid gold. I have spent many evenings diving into people’s passenger seats, knocking on doors, and camping out on kitchen floors, all so they can give me the tough but necessary advice. These are the people to hold close and do life with.

As I lay sulking under the dim glow of her fairy lights, she schooled me in the art of minding my own business.

What other people are doing should be of no concern to you. What he is doing with her is not a story-line you need to care about unless you’re invited to play a part in their drama.

“Stop jumping to conclusions,” she stated bluntly. “What you see and hear online is only half the story.”

I pulled her blankets over my head and sulked even more.

“Every time you start to get upset, remind yourself it’s none of your business,” she nudged me. “This is not burying your head in the sand. It’s an intentional redirection of where you focus your energy and thoughts.”

The truth is, she’s right. I’m guilty of investing in the lives of others more than I invest in my own. It’s easier to show off my life on a screen than show up and do the messy but necessary work in reality. We watch and scroll and care so much about what other people are doing, we miss out on the magic that’s happening right in front of us. And of course, we want others to see the highlights in our life as well. So we play the game. We snap, we caption, we vlog. This is not a social media bash – and you should definitely instastory any moment where you’re feeling and looking great. But some moments just shouldn’t be for the public.

I had the privilege of hanging out with someone especially great the other week. It went the way you’d want any night with a ‘potential’ to go- pizza, ice cream, and your Pastor dining at the table next to yours. Afterwards, we sat in the car with music blaring, city lights sparkling, and basked in a reassuring silence that could only accompany two people who were absolutely comfortable with one another. In that moment, I didn’t care what anyone else was doing. All I wanted was to savour the moment and never have it end. It was such a rare and sweet occasion that my fingers itched to capture it and have something tangible to remember it by. But as I reached for my phone, I felt a nudge telling me ‘Don’t document this. This moment is yours and his. No one else’s. Some things just need to stay sacred.’

***

Like I said, this isn’t a social media bash. The Internet has brought some beautiful things and people into my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. But if we’re always basing our feelings and jumping to conclusions based off the highlight reel and 10 second stories people put up, we run the risk of neglecting all the amazing things we’ve achieved in our own lives.

So for anyone who has ever felt crap because the rest of the world is ahead, let me pass on this pep talk to you.

It’s none of your business how far ahead other people are

None of your business that they’re now asking someone else out instead of you

None of your business they’re in a top-tier company and you’re not

None of your business that they’re further along in their career than you are

Quit watching and just do you.

Anxiety loves taking any tidbit of information you feed it and running with it until it’s crafted a story where you’re the victim.

So stop feeding it. Realise that life online is curated and only two dimensional. It’s rarely the full story, and it’s none of your business. Learn from people, yes. Be inspired by them for sure. But don’t lurk on profiles if you’re just going to beat yourself up for all the ways you’re not like them.

You could spend hours swiping through other people’s stories instead of putting the work into building your own. You could spend your whole life following other people’s lives. Or you could just devote your energy to living your own life- unafraid and uninhibited.

Mind your business


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