Having the confidence to be yourself is an incredible measure of life fulfillment in my book. We know how to be ourselves, but how do we know ourselves? And moreover, what’s the benefit?
Being yourself — your full self — no matter where you are or who you’re with — is an act of both bravery and rebellion. On one hand, it’s completely liberating. And on the other, it’s terrifying.
Being alone with our thoughts these past 8 weeks has provided us the rare opportunity to see ourselves under a microscope — dark roots, unmanicured toes and all. We’re seeing how we cope with stress (wine before 2 pm?), how we deal with abrupt change (allowing our kids to have candy for dinner?), and who we turn to in the wake of a crisis.
Anxiety-inducing? Absolutely. A self-healing revelation? Precisely!
Ya Gotta Be Yourself to Know Yourself
When people spew renditions of, “Be yourself!” in the face of pivotal life choices like accepting a nerve-racking interview or agreeing to go on a first date, what do they actually mean?
I think they mean, do what makes you happy, despite what anyone else may think. Don’t let fear override your goals. Speak up when your gut is telling you to do so. Work through your insecurities. Be bold enough to live a life you want to live.
In order to know ourselves, we have to be comfortable with admitting defeat — in work, in parenting, in relationships, in everything. We have to be willing to accept the hard truths about ourselves that are no longer buried under the distractions of our previous, hurried state of living.
And in doing so, we accept our flaws so we can move past them and focus on what matters — playing off of the strengths that make us us.
When you know yourself, everything becomes easier. For example! I cannot multi-task in the slightest. When I’m putting laundry away, I can’t have the bathroom towels in one hand, and the kitchen towels in the other. I have to bring the kitchen towels in the kitchen, and then go back to the laundry basket to bring the bathroom towels in the bathroom.
This OCD laundry habit I have is really a metaphor for how to live my life successfully. Because I’m aware I can only put my gym clothes in my closet after putting Cy’s pajamas in his dresser drawer, I know I can only respond to emails after I finish writing my articles. I can’t oscillate between the two.
I also know I need constant reminders to stay on track of my goals. Otherwise I will outright forget them. The things I’m working on now is (1) growing this newsletter, (2) rewriting my first book draft, and (3) ideating my clothing brand. The mornings are for writing, the afternoons are for private clothing label research, and I’m reserving the book completion for one, solid week this summer to which I’m titling, “Ashley’s Book Retreat.”
But sometimes I get so caught up in philosophical “Why are we even alive?” “What is the point of living?” questions that I completely disregard the goals I have, and instead, put some music on, pour a glass of champagne, and dance around the house. Because again, what’s the point?
We Are What We Value
Mark Manson (author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked) is my favorite kind of self-improvement enthusiast — he gives it to you straight — not caring about what’s trendy or “right” or funny — just blunt, raw, and to the point. Slightly an asshole, but an incredibly insightful and intelligent one. It’s addicting.
The other day he posted this message on social media…
We are defined by:
How we spend our time
What we pay attention to
Where we direct our energy
What we decide is important
And it got me thinking…
How am I spending my time? Where am I directing my energy, and what (and whom!) am I placing importance on?
They are extremely relevant questions to ask ourselves in light of COVID-19 and the sequential stay-at-home orders. And because I need constant reminders to stay on task, I wrote these value propositions down in my journal, to which I will be answering later today. AFTER answering my emails and ensuring the coloring books are faced the right way on the table, of course.
What I do know: Spending my time complaining about being quarantined isn’t productive. It isn’t enjoyable either. Because I’m getting to know myself better, I know I have to make a conscious effort to retrain my brain to be less cynical and more optimistic.
I want a good mood and a good attitude about life to become so second-nature to me that I don’t have to work at it. My first step in that is getting a tattoo of “Be a better you” inked on my arm as a reminder. I think it’s catchy! And stylish.
I predict therapists are going to prosper after this pandemic. We might be turning to the wine bottle for short-term comfort, but we all know that isn’t sustainable. Not saying I don’t enjoy it, I’m just saying it’s a band-aid.
Ashley’s Newsletter will be sent Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of this week instead of the usual Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday because I was having a hard time focusing yesterday amid this scenario…
Cy, charging in my writing room, exclaiming, “Mom! You pretend you’re the girl monster and I’ll pretend I’m the kid monster,” followed by Jake spinning through the kitchen with a musical rendering of, “WASTIN’ AWAY IN MARGARITAVILLE,” followed by the serious question of, “Ash, do you like when I play the guitar? Do you?” And then again, Cy, “Mama! Pretend I’m a monster and you’re the mommy monster and when daddy monster comes around the corner, we scare him. Okay?! Mom? OKAY?”
Is it 2 pm yet? I’ll be the wine monster.
As always, thank you for reading!