This was the year of Authenticity.
This was the year of bare it all: old wounds, insecurities, untalked about feelings, anxieties, carried burdens, my heart and soul.
365 days ago I told myself that this was the year I'd be Authentic. This is the year I would let go of everything I've been told I was/who I should be, the past that was haunting me. I'd throw out the skeletons hanging deep within my closet and I'd sweep the pain i held in my fist away like dust that was no longer needed under my welcome mat. And when the time came for me to be faced with the options of hiding behind the mask that is my comfort zone or being the version of myself I live with every day.. I'd pick door #2. Me. Ashlee.
Being Authentic has made people uncomfortable and at first I felt suppressed by their feelings of discomfort. That's when I realized how crucial it was for me to truly dig into the caves of what it means to be your most authentic-self and the start of that is learning the art of not caring what others think. I've learned that when you are living in your most raw form that others will build a glass wall to watch from afar and most of that is because of the demons they are hiding behind. It's not their fault, I've been the one behind the glass before so I understand them. People fear what they don't understand and they pass judgements before getting to know you. It's what society teaches us. It's what we see a "normal."
The Year began with a lot of focus. I had written out my goals for 2017 and executed a plan. The first order of business was to finish up my last couple months of Cosmetology School and then get my Cosmetologist License. I had gone through college and graduated with my Child and Family Development Degree in 2015 and it was a huge accomplishment. But this, Cosmetology, was for me. It was something I had been dreaming about since I was 14/15. I had big mountains to climb and skeletons to battle in order of succeed. I had to be Fearless. I had to become Authentic. I had to learn to stop apologizing and dimming my light for people. I graduated March 2nd. I got my license on March 28th. I screamed, I laughed, I danced, and I cried. I cried for nearly an hour of our 2 hour drive home. I had never felt so proud of myself. and that's not a feeling I have very often. Pride. but I felt it, every single emotion. Every single ounce of Authenticity. I, Ashlee, had taken pride in my accomplishments. And now I have been a licensed cosmetologist for 9 months. The year is flying by.
2017 was also the year that I began to distance myself from situations that would make me compromise the road to Authenticity. I had a conversation with Speedracer about it one night on a drive home from a evening out. "Why should I stand there and be apart of a conversation that I don't agree with?" I asked him. He agreed that I shouldn't. And we began to discuss reasons why or why not. In the past, while wearing a mask of "who I should be to fit in," I have gone places, showed my "face," and been involved in conversation or things I didn't really agree with. But to save myself the arguments and being bullied, I pushed along. But not now, not this year. I told SR that I'm pulling myself from those situations. I did it a few years ago when I was around 21/22 years old. I had to distance myself in order to remember who I truly was. And it worked. I found more comfort in being alone with myself again. People noticed and for the most part I got praised for it. I regained my backbone. I regained my Authenticity. and so in 2017, I regained it again. And it feels freeing. Being Authentic within yourself means sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself. You may have to lose friends to find friends. Authenticity can be lonely road and it is for the most part..but I've learned that it's perfectly okay.
Through all the successes and freeing experiences of being Authentic, I was also faced with some difficulties; as we all do. In the middle of showing my emotions, laughing at the things I'd be afraid too, and living a raw vunerable life....Death happened. In August, my Speedracer lost his Grandpa. and it was a devastating hit on the whole family. He had been sick for 5 months with many ups and downs, but he was a fighter and we all had great faith in his recovery. When SR called to tell me the news I was on my way to work. I pulled over and started punching my steering wheel. Hot tears rolled down my face and all I could repeatedly yell was NO! I have lost both of my grandfathers. One in 2004 & One in 2012. When my Papa passed in 2012 I found comfort through SR's Grandpa. He had lost his mom only 6 months prior and he was there for me when I felt like I didn't have anyone to turn to. SR had lost his Great Grandma and the pain was evident, but when his Grandpa passed it was the most difficult experience for my SR. And I felt like I needed to be the backbone, the pillar that held us up. But we were driving back to our hotel the night before we came home on the weekend he passed and I had my breakdown. I couldn't look at SR, all I could do was look out the window and repeat "I'm sorry." My Heart had shattered. I was so broken. The only Grandpa I had left was gone and there was nothing I could do but cry even though I had tried not to for 5 months straight. After his service in September, I felt like we slowly began picking up the pieces of our lives again. And that's where I refound Authenticity. It was a tuesday. I was putting away laundry and I had found a shirt SR's Grandpa had given me a year prior and I hadn't remembered. I sat on the bed, screamed "BABE" and cried into a t-shirt. SR ran in and asked me whats wrong. When I told him, he had more strength than I had in that moment. He said "It's Okay Babe. I Miss Him too." - and there it was....Authenticity. I understood what the last 9 months of my practice was: Let Go and Just Be. Authentic. Raw. Unapologetic. Fearless. Emotional.
So Here is to You, 2017, I never imagined the lessons I would learn. I never imagined my heart would be so full in a year that had a big loss. I never thought I'd step out of my comfort zone and find that I, myself, can be my own anchor instead of clinging to friendships or relationships that were ultimately bring me down. I didn't think I'd see the day where I would stop saying "I'm Sorry," for every little thing just to save someone else's feelings. There is alot of things 2017 has taught me and I'm so grateful to have lived it.
So before we go into the new year, let's get reacquainted....
I'm loud, I'm Quiet. I'm impulsive. I believe in God. I'm an over thinker. I'm fearless. I'm scared. I'm dramatic. I'm an Introvert. I'm an Extrovert. I'm a Wife. I'm a Sister. I'm a Daughter. I'm an Aunt. I'm a Fur Mom. I'm a Nerd. I love Netflix. I'm obsessed with Harry Potter. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love leather. I love Lace. I'm a Rocker. I love anything Vintage. I have tattoos. I'm a Mountain girl. I'm a Cosmetologist. I cry a lot. I laugh a lot. I'm bitchy. I'm kind. I hate and love sports. I battle with Anxiety & Depression. I'm the happiest person you'll meet. I love Joan Jett. I wish I was Stevie Nicks. I'm a Gypsy. I have a hippie soul. I have a resting bitch face. I smile a lot I love Lil Wayne. I Love Luke Bryan. I Love Marilyn Manson. I love Debussy. I'm high maintenance. I'm low maintenance. I hate cooking. I love baking. I'm rustic. I'm shiny. I'm a book nerd. I love to scrapbook. I'm a tomboy. I'm a girlygirl. I love to write. I love to sing. I hate loud music. I love loud music. I'm confusing. I'm messy. I'm a Neat Freak. I'm ever changing. I'm 27. I'm a Gemini. I'm a little bit of everything all rolled into one. I'm Ashlee, Nice to Meet You.