Be You. Always. Everywhere.
I wrote a blog last week that was SUPER SERIOUS. And then I caught myself writing this week's blog, and thought....woah, Ashleigh. What are you trying to do, yo? Scare these people away FOREVER? It was on its way to being another sad-ish tale. So, I stopped my damn self. Regrouped. And now I bring you a love story. And also, where I got my business's slogan/motto/purpose/WHY: Be you. Always. Everywhere.
I have weird arms. They're too short for my body. I'm not joking. Okay, it's not that they're too short. They're just...I can't straighten them fully. There's a slight bend in the elbows that never goes away.
I only realised this when I was in a dance class a few years ago and the instructor kept yelling, "Ashleigh....straighten your arms!" And I was like...THEY ARE STRAIGHT. THIS IS IT, NATASHA. THIS IS STRAIGHT. And then I looked in the mirror and I was like...wow, Ashleigh. What the fucking fuck is wrong with your arms?
I was also in a yoga class once and we had to sit with our legs straight out in front of us, and put our hands on the floor next to our hips, and then push down and lift ourselves up off the floor. I couldn't do it. I thought it was because I didn't have the upper arm strength. I thought that I just needed to keep working on getting stronger. But then every time we had to do that in the class, I couldn't do it. I looked at everyone else doing it, and I saw that when they were sitting with their arms next to their bodies, their arms were bent. They HAD MORE OF ARMS THAN I DID! Mine were not bent. I could barely keep my palms flat.
I have a friend whom I adore and we rag each other a LOT. He's smart and funny and grumpy as all hell and whenever I irritate him, he says to me, "Hold out your arms." And then I know I have nowhere to go from there. I have to retreat. My arms have failed me. Anything else I say is lost in the sheer ridiculousness of my upper limbs. It's like when Kanye tries to be philosophical, but forgets that we remember what he did to Taylor that year. Yeeeeah, my arms are the Kanye West of this particular friendship.
We all have something about ourselves that we struggle with. In my life I've struggled with more than just my arms. When I was at school there was a boy ho loved pointing out how big my nose was. And my head. Just...enormous. Both of them. Huge nose. Extraordinarily unacceptable largesse of the head.
I held onto that for a long time. Right into my 30s.
So....yeeeaaahhhh...we're told waaaay too often that we're not good enough. I don't know about you but I was told a lot of crappy things:
Bad at maths
Failure at science
Not good enough at sport
Not fast enough
We all have that list.
And then when I got married, the list grew even longer. Because emotional abuse. That marriage was rough and I don't think about it too often, but it ended in me having to get a restraining order.
The divorce was done and the restraining order process was well underway when I met this other guy. This very quiet, unassuming, introverted person. We'd actually known each other for years but through other people. He'd had his own struggles and torments. He was a recovering alcoholic. He'd been sober for almost four years when we caught up in Sun City, which is a casino and entertainment resort in South Africa. I was there alone, working. He started messaging me, asking me to come to hang out with him and his mates, asking how I was, checking in... I thought...what a sweet guy. He's feeling sorry for me and trying to make friends so I don't feel so alone. Then we hung out one night. And I was like....
See, when you grow up being told that you're funny-looking, you don't see a big old flirt fest when it's staring at you in the face. I had no clue that he was interested.
What followed was a period of just absolute headiness and in-love-falling. We were in different cities for the first few months, so we texted. It felt like what soldiers and their girlfriends and wives in the great wars must have felt like...when men and women fell in love and they would write letters to each other from across the sea. The letters would arrive and the surges of adrenaline and heartbeat were indescribable. Except, for he and I, the 'letters' were via BBM and they were every three minutes, 24 hours a day, so I was all adrenalined-out a few days in. It was exhausting. But it was wonderful.
When I went into court so that the judge could decide on whether the restraining order would be put into place or not, he messaged me one thing: Be you. Always. Everywhere.
It was the first time anyone (besides my bestie) had said that to me. It was the first time anyone had said that I was okay just as I was. Nose and all. So, I mean, I had to marry him. Obviously.
We've been together ten years. He's still sober. I still have bent arms, and a big nose. But I don't try and hide that anymore. I used to wear huge earrings and keep my hair loose and big to 'offset my nose.' Now? I scrape that hair back, so the world can see this schnozz. It's my NOSE. It lets me smell and breathe. It's AMAZING. My arms are AMAZING. My head holds my huge, magnificent brain. It is AMAZING.
And you are amazing, too. How do you be you, always and everywhere?
1. Surround yourself with people who tell you to keep being you
We all get derailed by people who are not on our side. Employers. Colleagues. Even friends and family. Often spouses. No, lady. These are not your people. The people in your life who lift you up, who reflect your gorgeousness back at you, who help you RISE, those are your people. Spend more time with them. Ask them for advice. The symbiosis of those relationships will take you to new levels of awesome.
2. Let other people be them
Let's just chill out on the judgment. Unless someone is acting like a totally selfish and destructive human, let them be who they are. I'm learning in business that 'competition' is a really good thing. It doesn't mean anyone loses. It means you get to be who you are, and let that flow into your business, so that you attract the people you're meant to work with, who are being who they are.
When you let other people be who they are, you give yourself more permission to be who you are. And vice versa. And that's how incredible clients are found, and partnerships are built.
Being you doesn't mean you have permission to behave however you want. As much as my husband and I love each other, sometimes we have to say to one another, "Oh, hey there. How about you stop behaving like that? It's not working for me."
Example: I am not the classiest eater. Sometimes, I'll be eating and he'll look at me and go, "Do you have to eat like that?"
Just like I have to say to him, "DO YOU HAVE TO SMASH YOUR SPOON AGAINST YOUR BOWL LIKE THAT EVERY MORNING WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO GET THE LAST BIT OF CEREAL?"
If you're walking through life and you're infringing on other people by being who you are...stop yourself right there. Remember, we have to let people be who they are for this to work. This is key. And if you can't do that, if you're racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, a Trump supporter, or harmful in any other way, then best you be your damn self so we can see you, and not buy from you.
You're going to be too much of something for some people. Too loud. Too sweary. Too quiet. Too emotional. That's okay. This is your life. You're living it. No one else. Infuse your home, your business, your way of being with who you are. That's where magic lives.
And that is pretty rad.
Oh. And PS. I love you.
Ashleigh is a copywriter who helps women find their authentic voices, so they can weave it into their business and their branding, and rise. Boom.
For real conversations, join her Facebook group here -