12 Signs You’re Doing Much Better Than You Think

“Hello blogosphere, my name is Ashley and I have an issue of busying myself far too much during the summer months.”

I know, I know, it has been a second since I’ve posted. I kick myself at the ending of every week for not finding the time to sit down and spend time with my keyboard. I feel like you’re all friends who have moved away and who I’ve promised to keep in touch with but… then I fail. So this is my little phone call to you all, promising to text, dial, email, smoke signal, whatever more in the future. I’m still here and I’m still here for you!

With that being said, Life is crazy right now. Work, House, volunteering committees seem to have devoured my every second and its every thing I can do to just find time to wash my clothes and brush my teeth. But hey, I love it! A quick overview: Wilbur and I are still happily together, I’ve recently picked up bujoing and am obsessed, my summer of weddings is about to be finished come August 12th, I danced with the idea of being a homeowner, I’ve committed to a few new responsibilities, Vinny from the Bachelorette liked my tweet… Overall Summer 2016 has been a rush and I’m excited to see what the rest of the year might bring! But, until I can actually sit down and choose a topic from my long list of options on my next blog post, enjoy this little nugget of wisdom found on Puckermob:

Originally posted on Puckermob:

It’s really easy to get caught up in your own head and believe you’re behind where you’re supposed to be for your age or that a single mistake is the end of the world.

Here are some signs that you’re actually doing much better than you think:

    1. You’re unsure about everything. Constantly wondering and questioning is a sign of intelligence. Have you noticed how it’s always the idiots that are so sure about every damn thing they are doing in their lives?
    2. You’re not content with something in your life. This is such an important thing because it means you’re self-aware and you don’t want to settle  -and that’s the first and most crucial step towards change. So many people stay where they are – emotionally or physically – because it takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery.
    3. You fell for the wrong person and got your heart broken into a million pieces. Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not give you what you need. That’s okay. There is a more extraordinary love out there that you would never know if it didn’t end it with the last one.
    4. You’ve lost something important to you and you’re still hurting. That means you are alive, you have a heart, you are healing, and your soul is learning the natural cycle of breaking and healing. The only real tragedy is the loss of emotions all together.
    5. You feel lost. That means you’re ahead of the game – anyone who thinks they’ve got it all figured out is settling for something for okay or sort of good enough. You’re lost because you know that there is much more inside of you than what you’re currently offering the world. Being lost keeps you hungry and it keeps you moving forward. You are exactly where you need to be right now.
    6. Your ego has been really hurt. In the words of Jillian Michaels, “A bad day for your ego is a great day for your soul.”
    7. You have one or two friends that feel like your family. If you have one person in your life that just gets you, that you can call crying at 4 a.m. and you know that somehow, they will just make you feel better – you’re set.
    8. You’ve made mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable in a life worth living. As long as you learn from them, mistakes are very important. They teach you exactly what you want and who you want to be.
    9. Some days you feel miserable. Maybe it’s because of a breakup, a divorce, losing a job, or life’s just getting you down – whatever it is, the harder you slam a ball into the ground, the higher it bounces back up. Some days life is gonna rough you up a bit, but it will leave you stronger, more appreciative, more compassionate, and wiser. Beautiful people do not just happen – life is all about experience.
    10. You got rejected or didn’t get something you really wanted. Remember, when one door closes another door always opens. If you open your eyes, you will see the next door that opens is a better door.
    11. You didn’t get your perfect ending. Some of the best stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about making the best of each moment because we really don’t know what will happen next. Maybe you didn’t get your perfect ending, but you will get something so much better.
    12. You’re not the same person you were a year ago. So many people never change. They get stuck in their stubborn ways and never progress. Life is all about evolving.

This articles was originally written by Anna Bashedly on August 9, 2015.

Personality Shift

I was talking with friends and a statement was made that one’s personality tends to change every six months. I’m not sure where the studies can be found that show this to be true, but I was curious if certain differences in learned traits and habits might ultimately shift someone’s personality. And so I did some investigating of my own accord to find out.

For me, I look at my old self — not even two years ago — and can see quite a difference in my behavior and ideals. I’m more outgoing, more independent, stronger, and more confident in myself. Where I once questioned what I wanted to do with my life, I now know at least a direction and that is to create a better community around me. I want fulfillment in life by helping others. I know my place on earth is to show others God’s grace and to be an instrument for Him. I find myself striving to be a better person every day by practicing patience, caring, and becoming a listener to those around me.

In October 2014 I wrote a post entitled Quick Personality Identifier. Here I wrote about my results from an online Myers-Briggs Test. (If you don’t know what this test is, I recommend checking it out now! Take a free assessment and really get a fuller understanding of what is going on in your head…)

At that time I was an INFJ personality type. INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all. INFJs are not idle dreamers, but people capable of taking concrete steps to realize their goals and make a lasting positive impact.

Today, I retook the test. Interestingly enough, I am no longer an INFJ — and I chose three different tests to get accurate results. Instead, I have shifted into an ENFJ. Not a huge change once you get down to the nitty-gritty of the personality types, but a change nonetheless. My shift from I (Introvert) to E (Extrovert) justifies the differences I’ve noted in my personality. Rather than being more preoccupied with my own thoughts and feelings, I’m now primarily concerned with my physical and social environment. This is something I am quite proud of and view this shift as a widening of my world.

Reading through my personality profile, I feel like I understand myself so much better! My strengths, my weaknesses, my interactions with those around me… everything is touched upon in this profile and it’s almost like looking into my own mind.

As I said in my Quick Personality Identifier post, the test is based on four preferences for personality types:

  • Where, primarily, do you prefer to direct your energy? E or I (Extroversion or Introversion)
  • How do you prefer to process information? S or N (Sensing or Intuition)
  • How do you prefer to make decisions? T or F (Thinking or Feeling)
  • How do you prefer to organize your life? J or P (Judgment or Perception)

Joining the ranks of Oprah, Jennifer Lawrence, and Daenerys Targaryen (my girl!), being an ENFJ means I am a natural-born leader, full of passion, and quite charismatic. With a confidence that begets influence, ENFJs take a great deal of pride and joy in guiding others to work together to improve themselves and their community.

Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. Your glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. Your every act can open hearts and minds. – David Deida

ENFJs make up only about 2% of the population, and they are always the people reaching out to inspire those around them to achieve and to do good in the world. ENFJs radiate authenticity, concern and altruism. They are unafraid to stand up and speak when they feel something needs to be said. ENFJs fine it natural and easy to communicate with others and they often can reach every mind, be it through logic or raw emotion.

The interest ENFJs have in others is genuine, almost to a fault — when they believe in someone they can become too involved in the other person’s problems and place too much trust in them. Most of the time, this trust is a lucky thing because it tends to inspire the other person to become better themselves. On the opposite, sometimes an ENFJs optimism can push others further than they’re willing to go and ultimately push them out of the ENFJ’s life.

Another snare ENFJs are vulnerable to is the capacity for reflecting on and analyzing their own feelings but sometimes getting caught up in another person’s plight and then seeing that problem in themselves. The ENFJ then attempts to fix something in him/herself that isn’t wrong. When this happens, the ENFJ’s ability to see past the dilemma and offer advice is limited and therefore they are of no help at all. Self-reflection and meditation are important practices for ENFJs during these moments so they can distinguish between what they truly feel and what is a separate issue needing a new perspective.

Overall, an ENFJs strengths are being tolerant of others’ opinions, reliable, charismatic, altruistic, and admired for their strong personalities and positive visions. Their weaknesses are being overly idealistic to the point of naivete, acting too selflessly, reacting too sensitively, and defining their self-esteem on whether they are able to live up to to ideals and goals. Failure in any respect causes their self-confidence to plummet. This also means that they can struggle with tough decision, usually becoming paralytic at imagining all the consequences of their actions.

When it comes to romantic relationships, ENFJs feel most comfortable when they are in a relationship. They take dating seriously, selecting partners with an eye towards the long haul rather than the more casual approach. There’s really no greater joy for ENFJs than to help along the goals of someone they care about, and a committed relationship is the perfect opportunity to do just that!

Being Intuitive (N) helps ENFJs keep up with the rapidly shifting moods common early in a relationship, but they still rely on conversations to help keep conflict. It is not uncommon to have an ENFJ ask their partner how things are going and if there is anything else they can do to make their partner happy. The risk to this is being overbearing or needy — sometimes the only thing wrong is being asked what’s wrong too often.

ENFJs don’t need much to be happy. Just knowing their partner is happy is enough, especially if it is expressed in visible affection or verbal affirmation. Making their partner’s dreams come true is often the chiefest concern in a relationship, but this can sometimes cause an ENFJ to neglect their own needs. It’s important, then, to remember to express those needs on occasion.

ENFJs invest their emotions wholly in their relationships, and are sometimes so eager to please that it undermines the relationship — leading to resentment and even failure of the relationship. When this happens, ENFJs experience strong senses of guilt and betrayal. If potential partners appreciate the ENFJ, though, then they will make an effort to look after the needs of their ENFJ partner even when he/she is not concerned for their own well-being. In the end, ENFJ personality types believe that the only true happiness is mutual happiness, and that is the stuff successful relationships are made of.

When it comes to friendships, ENFJs are anything but passice. With some people may accept the circumstantial highs and lows of friendships, ENFJs will put active effort into maintaining connections while viewing them as substantial and important. An ENFJ will never allow a friendship to slip away due to laziness or inattention.

People with the ENFJ personality type take genuine pleasure in getting to know other people. All perspectives, no matter how vastly different than their own, are intriguing to ENFJs. They connect best with individuals who share their principles and ideals, but have no trouble talking with people of all modes of thought. ENFJs truly open up with their closest friends, though they keep their many other connections in a realm of lighthearted but genuine support and encouragement.

Other truly value their ENFJ friends, appreciating the warmth, kindness, and sincere optimism they bring to their friendships. ENFJs strive to be the best friends possible, and this is apparent when they work to find out more than just the superficial interests of their friends, but also their strengths, passions, hopes, and dreams. Nothing makes ENFJs happier than to see the people they care about do well, and they are more than happy to take their own time and energy to help make it happen.

Unfortunately, some people simply do not have the energy to keep up with an ENFJs desire to lend a helping hand. And when their efforts aren’t reciprocated, ENFJs can become offended. This typically happens with those people more interested in living “in the moment” rather than the future, as well with those who are content with who they are and are uninterested in the sort of self-improvement and goal-setting that ENFJs hold so dear.

When circumstances like these arise, ENFJ personalities can be critical. While always tactful, an ENFJ’s advice to push forward may further annoy their friend. Instead of taking such approaches with friends like this, it is better for an ENFJ to relax into an uncharacteristic “live and let live” attitude.

Usually, though, ENFJs find that their excitement and optimism produces many satisfying relationships with people who appreciate and share their vision and authenticity. The joy ENFJs take in moving things forward means that there is always a sense of purpose behind their friendships, creating bonds that are not easily shaken.

Now when it comes to finding a career, ENFJs cast their eyes towards anything that lets them do what they love most: helping other people! Altruistic careers give ENFJ personality types a chance to help others learn, grow, and become more independent. This attitude, alongside their social skills, emotional intelligence, and tendency to be “that person who knows everybody”, can be adapted to quite a range of careers. Anything that helps a community or organization to operate more smoothly such as HR administrators, event coordinators, politicians, social workers, or teaching and counseling would be good avenues for ENFJs.

I find this career advice interesting — and exciting! In 2014, when I was an INFJ, my career profile went like this: INFJs struggle to begin a career early on in life because they see ten wildly different paths moving forward, each with its own intrinsic rewards, alluring but also heartbreaking because each means abandoning so much else.

It’s more than accurate that I was lost when I thought of a career only two years ago. I had so many interests that I couldn’t focus on the future and where I would be. I hated being asked in interviews, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” because I honestly had no idea! Now, though, I can honestly say I see myself in a position that is not on the corporate career path and focused on status or material gain. Instead, I want to be working to better my community, most likely in a nonprofit sector setting for a cause I am passionate about.

All in all, I am proud to say I am an ENFJ. Though it seems like I need to make a conscious effort to develop my weaker traits and continue to add to my skill set, the idealism and vision ENFJs exhibit allows them to overcome Life’s challenging obstacles. Whether I am attempting to find (or keep) a romantic partner, stay calm under pressure, or make a difficult decision, an ENFJ’s goal is always to brighten the lives of those around them.

Ultimately though, ENFJs are genuine, caring people who talk the talk and walk the walk, and nothing makes them happier than leading the charge, uniting and motivating their team with infectious enthusiasm. There really isn’t another way I’d prefer to conduct myself in this Life…

*Sources: This information comes from 16Personalities.com in reference to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test.

If you would like to take your own personality test, I recommend doing so on 16Personalities website. Click here to try it yourself! When you’re done, please come back and let me know what personality type you are and how strongly you agree with your outcome!

Pity Party for One, Please

So today I threw myself a pity-party. I sat down on my bed, looked into the mirror, and sighed heavily. I sighed at the lifelessness of my hair, the tightness of my clothes, the lack of luster in my skin. I sighed at how mundane things seem to be right now. I sighed at the feeling of being under appreciated.

Then, when I was done noting all my faults, counting all the regrets, casting all the worthless wishes, I took a deep breath… and I realized I had just caught myself feeling like a victim.

Now you would think that after all my writing about responsibility and accountability, I would know when I was feeling victimized by someone or something, right? I would know that feeling victimized meant a lesson was right around the corner and I would willing embrace it, right? Well, let me level with you guys: about 99.9% of the time that I recognize the truth, I’m very unenthusiastic to find out what I’m meant to learn from the experience.

This is not one of the rare 0.01% situations. I am actually feeling very overloaded, overtired, and very resentful. Something is off and I know what it is…

Admittedly, it is natural for me to create a persona for myself that fully embodies a “good person.” I like to readily be available for anyone at anytime for whatever is needed. With this desire also comes a lot of baggage though; I tend to feel unappreciated more often than others around me. This is because I do not receive the sort of gratification from some people in my life who I openly give myself. I expect more, because I personally supply more. The giving and taking are unevenly balanced.

The problem is, if I keep trying to please everyone, I start to find myself becoming unhappy with myself. Rather than taking care of myself and doing things for me, I am only focusing on others. This creates those feelings of under appreciation because I am giving my all to everyone else while sometimes others aren’t doing the same for me.

I’m coming to find there is a name for my type of personality: an Over-Giver. And the issue with Over-Givers is that on top of eventually becoming overloaded, overtired, and resentful, we also go through stages of feeling burdened, irritable, grumpy, and vengeful.

Unfortunately, I have yet to master the awareness of when these “symptoms” of over-giving creep into my life. Also unfortunate, but when they show up, they tend to hijack my good mood.

So, instead of throwing myself a pity-party this evening, I am holding an intervention. I am making an active decision to recognize the cause and effect relationship between my self-deprecating feelings and the part I personally play in creating them. I want to connect the dots for future recognition (as I am sure I will feel this way again) and quicker recovery to my “normal” self.

My “normal” self tends to live in a set mood of gratitude. I am thankful for what God has given me in my life and I feel extremely blessed. This makes me a lot more pleasant for others to be around me, and for me to be around myself.

To reach that level of bliss, though, there seems to be a number of things I need in my life:

  • healthy dose of responsible self-care
  • distinguishing what is a priority in my life
  • asking for support when necessary
  • reevaluating stressful situations
  • forgiving myself
  • apologizing to those I hurt in my wake

Looking at my life these past few weeks, I can see where I’m lacking in these fundamental parts of my life:

  • I am not being healthy in my self-care. Yes, I workout every day. Yes, I focus on eating well. Yet I am still not happy with my results. I have been so incredibly hard on myself during the past six weeks of my fitness journey that it is no wonder my stress level has spiked. I need to take a step back, reevaluate my intentions, and regroup. Why am I working so hard? It’s not to increase my health, but rather to feel comfortable in my own skin. Or more vainly put, to look good. I do not enjoy my workouts or how hard I work because I am not seeing immediate results! It’s time to get my head back in the game (sorry for the HSM reference) and re-energize my fitness plans with tangible and reachable goals.
  • What is it that I want to prioritize in my life? Community involvement and volunteer work, making time for family and those friends I highly value, working on a better me, and spending time with God. Anything else can take a back seat for now.
  • Have I mentioned how hard I’ve been on myself lately? This is something I think I need help with overcoming, and it’s about time I reached out for assistance from some people in my life. This is not particularly easy for me because I hate to admit any type of weakness in myself. However, sometimes I get trapped in my own head and only the advice and direction from others can help me. It is time though.
  • I’m at war in my head over something I’ve fought before: letting go of a long-term friendship. It is a very one-sided friendship, and one that everyone in my life has advised me to give up, but it’s hard for me to do…
  • … but I know what truly is best for me and that is to let this friendship go. So I am mentally preparing myself for the stages of grief in an effort to forgive myself.
  • Yet, in all honesty, the most important and hardest necessity when I fall off the wagon of “blissful Ashley” is to apologize to anyone I may have offended or upset with my behavior or lack of communication. For those who know me well, they know I say “I’m sorry” a lot. This is because apologizing for me is more than just asking for forgiveness, it is my confirmation that I have taken responsibility for my actions. As an Over-Giver, this is my way of relieving others from believing they are at fault for my behavior towards them.

With these thoughts, I drive back the initial idea that every ebb in my personality is creating a deeper impression of the lesson I am to learn from each experience. My nature of being an Over-Giver is not one I can easily change, which means my falls cannot easily diminish either, but when I become more attuned to the “symptoms” I can attempt to neutralize myself more quickly.

I don’t think I’ll ever by free from defaulting to feelings of self-pity and irritability when I overload myself, but maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the point is to acknowledge those times when I start to throw myself a pity party and pop the balloons before they block my sight of the exit.

The Life of a Twenty-Something

It seems the older I get the more I hear people complain about their birthdays and ages a lot. When someone wishes them a Happy Birthday the response is usually a grimace with a murmured thanks. In reality, though, we should all be thankful and blessed that another year has rolled around for us. Age means you’ve experienced yet another year of good and bad, and lived through them all. What a wonderful accomplishment!

I turn 23 today, and I thought it would be interesting to briefly take a look back over my 23 years and see how my life has evolved to the state it is today.

(I’ll do this in five year increments.)

Newborn Ashley (1991): I was born in Small Country Michigan and lived in a black-shuttered white house with my mom, dad, and miniature schnauzer, Grace. My room was decorated in Baby Disney, my hair was so light I appeared bald, and I only fell asleep after a few car trips around the neighborhood.

5YO Ashley (1996): My parents had decided I was such a perfect child that they stopped with me. I began learning at a local Lutheran elementary school and was known for my creativity. I still lived in the same house, but it was now gray and had burgundy shutters. I had a young boxer named Abby who was my best friend, and a few human friends around my neighborhood with whom I played. I had few responsibilities or worries.

10YO Ashley (2001): Just a month after 9/11, the world was still on high alert to the dangers within it. As a studious student, I became one to do much research and learned more on my own than in class. Harry Potter was my favorite book. Grace had passed away and we had gotten another little nugget named Jazz, as well as a calico named Noah; Abby and Jazz were our best dogs ever. My closest friends remained my neighbor and some girls in my class, but I was more of an introvert and liked to read. I wanted to be an architect when I grew up.

15YO Ashley (2006): I had just begun high school. Ten of the same peers who I had gone to kindergarten with were part of my freshman class. Our class was the largest in ten years for the school with 40 students. I focused on my studies as well as playing sports, which included soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I threw myself into a new circle of friends, specifically four girls who didn’t seem to belong to any one clique. I didn’t find myself interested in dating, but that may be because half the guys in my class I had known for the majority of my life. I was waiting for another year so I could finally have my license.

20YO Ashley (2011): It is crazy to think how much had changed in these short five years! I had graduated high school second in my class, already finished my freshman year of college, transferred universities, and been dating my high school sweetheart for a year and a half. I had lost touch with pretty much my entire high school class, give a person here or there, and my friendship circle was pretty small. I was floating through life without much aim. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career, so I was taking general education courses.

22YO Ashley (2013): I was banking on only two more semesters of schooling until graduation, but wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. My goal was to become a grant writer for a nonprofit somewhere in the world (it was more focused than my sophomore year!) I had just begun working at my winery, was commuting to school from my parents’ house, and still driving my Jeep from high school. My friends had expanded a bit further from just my boyfriend (who was actually my fiance by this time), but I still didn’t have anyone very close. I was reaching out and becoming more involved at school though, especially with three organizations on campus in which I took roles of leadership. I was tired of schooling, and was focusing my efforts more on wedding planning than anything else. I had hardly any worries, other than my piling up school debt and what seemed at the time small relationship problems.

23YO Ashley (2014): I am working two jobs which I absolutely adore, one full time and the other once a week. I ended up graduating on time after a semester of working two jobs, an internship, and 24 credits. Somehow I survived that workload on top of a broken engagement. I have a lot of friends now, all of whom I love and cherish. My two dearest friends I did not even know a year ago. I now talk to numerous people from high school, most of whom I never associated with while actually in class. I am beginning a new relationship with someone completely new in my life, and I feel happier than I have ever been. I bought my first big purchase, a brand new car. I’m still at my parents but for the most part we get along fine. I’m not sure how life could be any better right now.

Time sure seems to go by so fast right now Every night I think about how quickly the day flew and it amazes me. I might have worries one day, but they also fly by. I always know there are people looking out for me and people who truly care, so my worries fade pretty quick. All I can do for now is smile and appreciate every experience I get to have throughout every year of my life.

On a whole separate note: thank you for all the birthday wishes, friends and family, I appreciate you all so much!!