I want to stop hiding. I always hide. I look at the floor instead of at people. I hide behind my hair. Invisibility. I want to be seen but I also find it uncomfortable. I put on a cliche face & appear open but there’s a thick glass wall between me & everyone else. I’m tired of wearing masks. I’m tired of not being as colorful, as bold, as cool, as vibrant, as alive as I can be. I go out but I don’t want anyone to see me even though deep down, I crave being seen. I want people to know me. There’s nowhere left to hide. I want to be so authentic that when other people see me it makes them feel braver. I want to give them permission to shine like the brightest star too. I want to stop only posting manufactured, manicured posts to social media. I want to stop showing only the “perfect” things. I want to share what it’s really like. I want people to see who I really am. Even if they don’t always like it. I’m tired of playing small. It’s bullshit. I’m every color of the freaking rainbow, & I’m going to stop being afraid of showing it.
MASTER OF MY WORLD.
I want to be the master of my every moment. The master of my universe. To be the one shaping my world, designing & molding & manifesting exactly what I want. I’m tired of my subconscious fears & anxieties & limiting beliefs controlling what happens. They don’t know how to drive. I’m taking the wheel back from them. Taking away their licenses. My car, my rules. I want to create the kind of life for myself that I deserve. In sync with the Big Universe out there, co-creator & collaborative artist & lover. To both be the one in control, & the one creating & tapping into the flow that I effortlessly skate along. To let that flow guide me. To be able to create real magic for myself. To love myself, truly & deeply & completely. Like we did when we were children. Before we learned how to hate ourselves.
HUGE POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
I want to be a really, really kind person. I want to be used as a force of immense good in this world. I want kindness to be the way I change the world for the better. I want to be the kind of person who gives huge tips at restaurants. The kind of person who shows up with a car filled with dog food & cat litter at the animal shelter. The kind of person who shows up & writes a huge check for a local charity. Who makes care packages for the homeless & handmade cards for lonely in the hospital. Who creates places & opportunities that empower other people. To do my part of throwing the starfish back in the ocean.
LIFE REALLY IS MY PLAYGROUND.
Life is supposed to be fun. I get caught up in the stress & boredom we’re conditioned to feel as adults. I fall down onto what they tell me adulthood is supposed to feel like. The drudge. The dreaded Mondays. No more time to play & breathe & explore. But they’re all wrong. Why was dancing invented if we were all supposed to be so serious most of the time? Why does it feel so good to be happy if we’re supposed to despise at least 33% of our lives? I want to lean back in the swing & look at the pure blue sky. I want to lie on my back in the meadow & see the shapes of dinosaurs & flamingos in the clouds. I want to sit at the end of the ocean & build a moat to protect the sandcastle, & I want to start each day with dancing. It doesn’t take any courage to hate Mondays or to be dragged into the rat race, but it does take courage to play.
COMPLETE FREEDOM TO LIVE THE WAY I WANT TO.
I started the year focused on becoming a millionaire. As if that was the be all, end all. But it never was enough to keep me focused. Something was always missing. I was afraid. If I wanted to succeed, I had to make my goal about HOW I WANTED TO FEEL & not just how much money’s in the bank. That’s what the journey is actually about. I want to know what it’s like to live my life exactly the way I want to. Because if you don’t have a foundation, where’s your hustle? Where’s your hunger to push through & make something happen if you become lazy in success? I want to build a life that’s mine & on my terms. Complete, beautiful freedom. The concept of “millionaire” is part of that, but not all. & “millionaire” doesn’t (won’t) feel the same to me as it does to numerous unhappy others. Money is amazing, but it alone isn’t solid enough without a good foundation under it. That foundation is the underlying lifestyle & story I’m going to design for myself. Otherwise you end up a stressed, cynical millionaire. & that’s not what I want to be.
I want to be free. What do I want my life to look like? What would my life look like in a year if I loved myself truly & deeply? How would I dress? What hairstyle would I have? How would I make money? Where would I live? How would I spend my time? It’s my responsibility to build the life I want for myself. Living in complete freedom is living like you love yourself completely, truly, & deeply. I want to make my life biggest, most beautiful art project.
Why are you doing the thing you’re doing every day?
There are seven levels of “WHY”. If you keep asking yourself, you can get to the bottom of it & find out what REALLY is keeping you going.
I heard about this idea first while reading the article “How to Consistently Act From Your Deepest ‘Why’ and Optimize Your Time” by Benjamin Hardy. In it, he says,
“Think about what it is you want, and ask yourself this simple question:
What about ___________ is important to me?
Just answer the first thing that comes to mind.
Don’t over complicate it.
[…] It’s good to go at least 7-questions deep into this exercise.”
You start asking yourself “WHY?”. The first reason is probably some semi-B.S., superficial reason that’s visible immediately. It’s your initial knee-jerk reaction, which also might be a somewhat canned response.
I’m going to use my personal examples here because I know them the best obviously. But this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.
Why do we do the things we do?
What keeps you going? Why do you keep doing what you’re doing even when it really hurts? What separates the things that hurt but matter from the things that hurt but are bad?
So I went down the seven levels to find out my core reason.
Why did I want to be a millionaire? I asked myself.
Why was being a millionaire important to me?
So I could have financial freedom, of course. Plus all the things “financial freedom” encompassed.
Why was financial freedom important to me?
Because financial freedom would allow me to spend my time doing things that made me happy. It would give me the freedom to help others. So the obvious “freedom” was the answer.
Why was freedom important to me?
Because freedom would allow me to maximize my happiness. It would allow me to make my life a perfect expression of happiness.
Why was happiness important to me?
This is when this questionnaire became a little more difficult. Why did I want happiness? I couldn’t put this one in a box so easily. My first reaction was, “Happiness is important because HAPPINESS is important.” I felt like I’d reached the end of the road. How could I go a level deeper?
But I knew there WERE more levels. “Happiness” was too easy of an answer. It wasn’t deep enough.
So, why was happiness important to me?
I suddenly knew. A phrase I came up with months ago came to mind.
Because I know I cannot FULLY love myself until I’m living a life that makes me happy.
Aha! So there WAS an answer to this. But self-love was, in itself, a pretty good answer. Just like happiness had been. But, like happiness, there had to be a deeper answer.
Why was self-love important to me?
Because I know I deserve to live my best life. Because it’s my purpose.
Six levels down.
& with sudden clarity, the answer to the seventh came so easily. It was an ineffable feeling of destiny, of KNOWING something without doubt. But put into words, it’s something like this.
Why was living my best life important to me?
Because it’s WHO I AM. WHO I CAN BE.
You still have time, but you have to go NOW.
But it’s your choice what you make of the last month of the year.
The year is almost over.
But you still have time.
What are you going to do about it?
Save $1. Exercise for one minute. The tiniest step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all. When done consistently, it can move mountains.
Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.
Much too often, perfect becomes the enemy of good. Perfection becomes more important than making progress in the first place. There have been so many times I’ve given up on something because I wasn’t able to do it as often, as devotedly, in the same capacity that I’d originally planned to.
But starting, even with the most seemingly insignificant action, is always better than not starting at all. The smallest action in the right direction, especially when doing it becomes a habit, is incredibly powerful.
The tiniest step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all. When done consistently, it can move mountains.
Sometimes, it feels like if you can’t commit to exercising an hour a day, if you can’t save 10% of your income, if you can’t write 5,000 words a day, that you might as well not do anything at all. That you should wait until it’s a “better time”.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to do something. Don’t stop & start over because you messed up, or you don’t think you’re ready, or you don’t have the time, the money, the resources. It will never be a better time than it is RIGHT. NOW. No one cares if you cheated at your diet for one day, or if you only start out writing ten words a day in the novel that’s been inside you for a decade.
What matters is that you DO SOMETHING.
Walking for one minute is better than not exercising at all, if that’s all you can do for now.
Practicing playing guitar for two minutes is better than not playing it at all, if that’s all you have time to do.
Eating a tablespoon of canned vegetables along with your burger & fries is better than not eating any vegetables at all, if you’re working on eating healthier.
Flossing one tooth every day is better than not flossing at all, if you don’t have the time to floss all your teeth.
Throwing out one item you no longer need is better than not throwing out anything at all, if you know streamlining your belongings would make your life better.
Opening one window in your house is better than no windows at all, if you want to let fresh air in but only one window has a screen.
Reading one new word in that language you’ve always wanted to learn is better than not learning anything at all, if learning that language seems too challenging.
Writing one line of code is better than not working on your app at all, if you’re working on becoming a programmer & getting your app out there.
Posting something on your blog, at the “worst” time of day, is better than not posting at all if that’s the only thing & the only time you can post it.
Choosing just once today to respond differently is better than staying stuck in the same habits or emotions or beliefs, if you’re trying to reach that next level.
Writing ten words in your novel every day is better than not writing anything at all, if you’ve got a story burning inside you that you know the world needs to see.
Putting $1 in your savings account each week is better than not saving any money at all, if that’s all you have the ability to save right now.
Painting one brush stroke on the canvas is better than not painting anything at all, if you don’t know what to paint, or how to paint it.
Because everything you do eventually adds up. It eventually counts for something. At the end of the year, you will have written 3,650 words more than you’ve written right now. You will have saved $365 more than you have currently. You will have spent 6.08 more hours exercising than you would have otherwise.
Everything you do will compound. Everything you do will leverage every other thing you do. You might be worried that you’re taking the easy way out by only taking one step. But if that’s all you can do right now, your tiny action is as valuable as gold. You will find the time, the motivation, the resources, to get better at it if it’s important to you. You will get to where you’re heading.
Consistency is more important than perfection ever will be.
What you do today to take a step further in the right direction is never a waste of time. You will be that much closer to living the type of life you want to live. The type that you deserve to live.
It’s kind of like the famous “Starfish Story”. You can’t throw all the starfish back into the water. But it will matter, invaluably, for the ones you do.
You can’t always make all the progress you wish you could make. You can’t always win every battle.
But it will matter, invaluably, for the ones you do.
Now, go out there & do something.
In the fifth episode of The Ashlee Craft Show, Ashlee reads an essay titled “The Problem & The Cure” from her upcoming book “Not a Dime a Dozen”.
When you live authentically, loving yourself becomes a whole lot easier.
Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.
Living an authentic life, or at least really trying to, is probably one of the most challenging things that I have done. To me, authenticity is living a life that makes you feel good about the person you are becoming.
It’s when you feel like it is both okay and beautiful to be the exact person that you genuinely are and always wanted to be, and when you get closer to a place of acceptance and love towards yourself.
To me, this isn’t a specific end result or level that you one day reach, but an ongoing process of continually reinventing yourself and making adjustments to your life to match your authentic self. In the process of figuring out who I want to be and working on becoming that, I’ve noticed some wonderful changes.
When you start fearlessly reinventing yourself, you will finally feel happier. When you start living authentically, happiness will start coming more naturally to you, and you’ll feel surprisingly good about the person you are. At first, living authentically can feel scary. You may feel guilt that you’re not living the life others think you should, or be afraid that no one will like or understand the new you.
Changing the way other people see you is probably one of the hardest parts of really becoming yourself, but it’s more than worth it. You might find yourself wanting to try new things that you didn’t have the confidence to do before, and life will probably start becoming a hell of a lot more fun.
For a good portion of my teenage years, I felt strongly dissatisfied and unhappy with my life. I couldn’t do anything that I wanted to do without being plagued by the fear that others wouldn’t like my choices, and even the smallest of frowns or negative comment would dissuade me from doing what I really wanted to do.
I felt like everyone’s expectations of who I was supposed to be were things that I had to listen to, no matter how much they conflicted with who I really was.
One day, I came to the realization that most of the things that made me feel overwhelmed were related to me trying to be what others wanted me to be. I also realized that living my life based on what other people wanted was fruitless and would never allow me to be satisfied or at peace with myself.
Immediately, I began making a list of things I needed to do to start feeling more like myself, the version of myself that I was yet to fully embrace. I worked on incorporating goals and changes into my life that felt good to me and matched up with the kind of person I was excited to start being while ruthlessly editing out the things that didn’t make me happy. When I look at my life since then, it feels predominately good, and a whole lot lighter and brighter than before. The best part is, it keeps getting better all the time, and I know that the more I work on becoming more myself, the better my life will feel.
When you live authentically, loving yourself becomes a whole lot easier.
Loving something encourages you to take better care of it, so the more you love yourself, the more you will value whatever self-care activities are important to you. You will look forward to the things you do that make you feel good. I strongly believe that living an authentic life is the best choice you can make for yourself, and the more expressive form of self-care there is. Whether self-care for you means making sure to drink a cup of hot tea every morning, eat better, spend time with your family, pets, or friends, wear an outfit that makes you feel amazing, go out to socialize more, spend time alone, work more, work less, or get enough sleep, you will become more intuitive about what self-care rituals work best when you start figuring out who you are.
Things will connect and come together in beautiful ways that you may never have expected, and you may find sudden clarity regarding situations or things that you previously felt divided about.
The biggest part of becoming your authentic self is being, owning, and loving the person that you are, regardless of how conventional or unconventional a person that may be.
Your confidence will soar when you start making choices that you really connect with. and this confidence will propel you to take the next steps in reinventing yourself. You’ll find that you aren’t so afraid of what others think of you, and when you start living with honesty, you will inspire others to do the same.
That is perhaps the best and more awe-inspiring part about truly being yourself of all — the fact that you will possess the electric power to empower others to take steps to become who they are. When you start to work on living an authentic life, you will realize how much beauty there is in the unique, amazing, one-of-a-kind person that you were born to be.