5 Ls I've Turned into Lessons

5 Ls I've Turned into Lessons

We’re more than halfway through 2019 which brings me to a place of necessary reflection.  I reflect daily through my journal entries, a way to check-in with myself and settle my mind before getting started with the day. 

This overdue blog post focuses — like the quote from my Instagram which you should follow for more motivational quotes, journal prompts, and pictures of my face — on finding, appreciating, and welcoming the opportunities that exist within adversity and the adversity that exists within opportunities. 

I recently completed my first semester of grad school at the University of Pennsylvania and took a course titled “The Devil’s Advocate: The Power of Divergent Thinking” taught by an amazing professor with an aesthetic, calm, and spunk that I aspire to have when I am her age.  This course left me with constant headaches from the amount of mental engagement it required. Yet, it also challenged me to higher forms of thought. My professor introduced the Chinese word for “Crisis” which is composed of two characters meaning “danger” and “opportunity”.  Her intent was to express that with danger and adversity, comes opportunity. Lean into what frightens you and see that there is often a benefit to unpacking that fear. Much of the class was based on the power of the self and the mind. It acted as a reminder for many things I already understood about mindset and owning your own power to change and create the life you want, as well as a catalyst for me being more active than I was prior.  

I was horrified to go back to school because I felt it would throw me back into a mindset of equating my value to grades or someone else’s judgment/idea of who I am.  I didn’t want to be the only black girl in a class again — and I was — but I took this as something to be proud of instead of something to be annoyed by — though there were still moments where it frustrated me.  There is a benefit in being able to exist in a space with people that look like you or people that don’t but do clearly value you.

In some ways, balancing a full-time job, part-time grad school, running and organizing a business, and working on daily mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial improvement has been challenging.  In others, it has been immensely rewarding and here, in month seven of 2019, I have to say I’m honestly just happy.  

I am appreciative of every adversity because I know that then brings forth opportunity and growth.  There may be the initial thought of “why is this happening to me?” but the truth and the key to living a life that you can really be proud of and find peace in is to flip it to: “why is this happening for me?”

There are inevitably moments where everything is just difficult and you won’t want to eat healthily, keep your spaces clean, spend wisely, or whatever else.  But there is also so much merit in allowing yourself a moment to fall apart and then getting right back up. Fall, but don’t stay there. 

I always want to be entirely transparent with my work because I believe that it is unrealistic and toxic to perpetuate a life or mentality that only exists in the realm of all things positive all the time.  I am not positive all the time.  I am not my best self all of the time.  But I have newly learned that I am creating all of the time in some capacity.  Whether I am creating the life I don’t want to live or creating the life I do want to live, I am creating something and I retain full control over how I react to what happens, even if I don’t control the event itself. 


And! Here are 5 Ls (losses) I’ve turned into lessons to welcome the opportunities in my adversities:

  1. Not Having My Dream Job

    Post-grad made me feel like I earned the right to have the job I wanted. Even if I had to start small, I still wanted to be in the field of my choice. This ain’t happen though.  I had to navigate through a managerial position in retail which I never would have fathomed. And I took it from there. I hated my retail job but going into work day in and day out for 8-10 hour workdays to sell to frustrating and picky customers taught me skills with marketing and sales that I utilize to this day with my own business. Also, I’m 23! I have plenty of time for plenty of dreams.

  2. Not Having A Set Direction After Undergrad

    This is similar to the above point but different in the sense that it forced me to have a complete mental shift about my role in my life.  I am the queen of planning but I was tired after undergrad.  I needed a serious nap.  And that is what I did when I graduated.  I slept. And I did not plan and I slept more and more. 

    While I think that I could have planned “better” and avoided some stress, not having a plan didn’t lead me down a path of complete failure.  Instead, it allowed me to find merit and freedom in creating my life step by step, which is what life is anyway. Life itself, the way that we have made it on this planet, is often monotonous and frankly boring as hell.  Nothing is as exciting as people on social media try to make it seem and no city or state is as “lit” either. Anything in life is literally what you make it because your mind is everything. Which leads to my next point.

  3. Being Exhausted

    I became sick with a stomach virus during my study abroad experience 3 years ago.  Since then, my body has exploded into a ball of stress and fat and what to me has felt like an absolute mess.  I have felt consistently exhausted and depressed and found it very difficult to conquer my mind in the ways I know I can.  I developed unhealthy eating habits and mentality as a result of the unhappiness I felt from my mental and emotional state.  There were many external factors to this, one is graduating from undergrad, but other factors contributed too. Refocusing on my gut health and healing my body from the inside out from the damage done years ago from the virus and antibiotics has been a priority of mine since the beginning of this year.  I have seen slow but tremendous improvements since doing this and it is a process because every day is a new thing. The gut really is a second brain and my mind feels so much clearer now. I’m excited to see where it takes me. 

  4. Not Having An Emergency Fund

    I moved to Philly over a year ago now and while I moved with money saved up, I did not have an emergency fund and I completely forgot that when you move into an apartment you have to buy furniture and that is not cheap.  Learning financial literacy and investing in my present and future self has been just as rewarding as tending to my physical and mental health.  This is also a slow process! But so worthwhile towards the life I want to have. 

  5. Not Writing In My Journal

    This is an L because journaling is absolutely essential to my mental health which then impacts my physical health.  As a meditative practice, journaling daily has allowed me to have a clear mind, to understand myself better, to approach my setbacks and flaws with compassion, to pave the way for improvement, and write my life into existence.  I am literally the author of my life’s story. And so are you. If there’s anything I try to ensure I’m leaving someone with to improve themselves, it’s a tool for self-care and love. So go get a journal and actually write in it.  It will change your life. 

Check out my recent journal prompt on my Instagram here!

I’m gonna end here abruptly. Writing this is my accomplishment for the day. What will yours be? Hopefully, it is loving where you are now or seeing the value in doing so. Thank you so much for reading and I hope something in this has resonated with you.  

Sending love always, 

Ashley Mae

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