Imperfection.

Why hello, blogosphere…It’s been a while. I’ve been quite the absentee for a while now. Perhaps I’ve been overwhelmed by other commitments. Perhaps my writing is subject to the fleeting nature of the seasons. Perhaps I lost inspiration. At any rate, I think I’m back on the writing wagon. A fitting introduction for this post, which concerns my “One Word” for 2014: Imperfection. 

Why fitting? Because Perfectionist Ashley would have looked at a 9 month hiatus from the pursuit of blogging as a failure that should be swept under the internet rug. Cancel that domain. Delete the account. Hope no one ever asks me again about blogging. However, I’m on a little crusade to battle perfectionism in my life, which I started to explore in this NASPA WISA Blog Post a few months ago. In honor of this, I have chosen “Imperfection” as the word that I hope to use to define the next year. 

For those who aren’t familiar with the One Word concept, it’s sort of like a New Year’s Resolution, but instead of choosing a goal, you choose a single word to embody and explore for the year. My previous words have been Change and Momentum. I can’t help but feel that Imperfection has a decidedly different character than the previous words. My One Word always has something to do with what I can become in the coming year, and Imperfection might seem like a cop-out to some. Am I trying to give myself a pass to screw up over the next year? How unprofessional/childish/capricious/blah blah blah…

But wait. I am giving myself a pass to screw up. Well, I’m trying to, at least. I’m trying to exercise self-compassion in the moments of screwing up. I’ve already started to practice this philosophy and I’m feeling pretty good about it so far. Because let’s be honest: I’ve been screwing up royally for my whole life at various times. And I can say that telling myself “Hey, it’s okay, you’re still an awesome person and people love you” as opposed to “OH MY GOD you really messed that one up, there’s no recovering from that, everyone will be so disappointed in you!” makes a pretty big difference. 

I hope to write about my journey into Imperfection here. But if I get busy and forget, then oh well. I’m still a pretty cool person. 

And for good measure, here’s a very nice picture of imperfection. This was on New Year’s Eve and I hope that my year is something like this. I was having an awesome time and didn’t even care that I look borderline rabid in this selfie with my best friend. May all of 2014 have this level of delighted abandon!

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A Year of Change

The first blog post I wrote on this website almost a year ago was about the “One Word” that I was choosing to live by in 2012. With what I now recognize as an impressive amount of foresight, humility, and a good dose of crippling fear, I chose “change”. Even now, it feels empowering to say that I chose change, instead of feeling like change was always choosing me. I knew then that change would define this year, and I’m grateful that I embraced it.

Without question, this has been one of the most change-filled years of my life. When I look back to last December, I’m looking into a totally different life. I was on the brink of transition, ready to find the next phase of my life. I was preparing to leave behind a place that had defined me for years (and which will always hold a big piece of my heart). I was unknowingly about to experience months of heartbreak, soul-searching, doubt, questioning, and ultimately, self discovery and renewed confidence. There were many times in the months that followed that I sat on the floor and sobbed, whether out of confusion and frustration at a relationship that was rapidly falling apart, fear and sadness for leaving the place I loved, exhaustion from tirelessly working to finish my degree, or the mixture of apprehension, anxiety, and abandon that I fondly refer to as “quarter-life crisising”.

In those and numerous other challenging moments, “change” became my mantra. I have reminded myself quite frequently over the past 12 months that I am choosing change. I want change; I love change. It hurts like hell sometimes. But when I commit myself to something, you had better believe I’m going to follow through. Had I not gifted this magical word to myself at the beginning of the year, would I still have gotten through all of the transitions in my life? Most likely. However, I really believe that I met these challenges with greater conviction, grace, and faith than I would have otherwise. I defined myself as a lover of change; I chose my attitude in anticipation of what I thought was coming for me. In many ways, I got more than I anticipated; but I was ready.

Today I feel that I’m better off than I was a year ago. Yes, I have a degree and a full-time job now (whew), but it is more than that. I have a better sense of who I am and what matters to me. I have, in many ways, reclaimed permission to fully be who I want to be. I realize that my life will always hold changes. Likely, there will be other years similar to this one, during which I will turn to my good old friend Change and ask her to hold my hand along my journey. After all, Change and I are well-acquainted now.