Some A’s for your Q’s


Last week I made a post on instagram asking people to send me questions for this week’s blog post. I wanted to know what kind of things you guys are curious about. 

I got an amazing response. You all asked so many wonderful questions, and I selected a handful at random. I adapted some of them slightly & included a name if it was signed. 

This is a long one. Are you ready? Here we go.

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Personal life

Karen Rayappa from New York asked:

Did you go to college? And if so, what did you major in? I always love hearing people's answers cause then I can tell what they're really passionate about. 

I did! I have a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Ohio Dominican University. I actually switched schools and majors a few times before landing on this one. I felt a ton of pressure trying to figure out who I wanted to "be when I grow up." And I still don't know. I just know that I am passionate about writing and communicating and this major was the best fit for that :)


I have a really simple question. What's your birthday?

I like simple :) it's May 1st!


Jennifer asked:

I was just wondering, since you are a vegan are you also cruelty free with your makeup? If so, do you have any specific brands you enjoy the most?

I really try to stay cruelty free with my beauty products! Almost 100% of my makeup is E.L.F. which is cruelty-free (and crazy affordable). Here’s a great list of cruelty-free brands: http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/list-of-cruelty-free-brands/

Karina asked:

Charlie or India?

Holy moly that’s a tough one. I realized I haven’t talked about my two sweet cats on the blog yet, but I love them both SO much. They’re both so different it’s impossible to choose. India is shy around strangers but so sweet and cuddly with me. Charlie is outgoing and playful and loves to snuggle. They can both be sassy at times so it just kinda depends on the day which one likes me more :) 


I am in high school and I only really learned about feminism about a year ago, and I am so glad I did. It has really helped me to love, respect, and accept myself and others. I have learned so much since I started going to the feminist club at my school, and next year, I'm super excited to be running it with my best friend.  I was wondering what role feminism played in your life, what experiences you've had relating to it, and/or what it means to you.     

Hi! This is a great question. I’m so glad to hear that you’re learning about feminism and self-acceptance. This is something I didn’t start learning about until later in my college years. I took a class about gender in literature and it changed so much about how I see the world. I realized that I didn’t have to fit myself into a box that society tells me I need to fit perfectly into (it’s a size 4 to be exact) ;). Jokes, but honestly, recognizing the generally unrealistic expectations society has set for women has made me passionate to change this. To fight for equality for all humans for the betterment of society. 

Lillyanne asked:

Do often get annoyed when people ask you about Josh/only want to talk about Josh?

To be 100% truthful, it’s not always easy. It often feels that I’m in his shadow and it’s made it kind of tough to find my own identity. BUT, my brother is one of my favorite people on this planet and always has been. If I ever do feel sad/annoyed, I quickly remember that it’s just because people love him so much and he deserves every bit of that love. 

Nicole asked:

1. How's your vacation across Europe going? What is it about traveling that you love?
2. Who are your inspirations / role models, if you have any?
3. Where do you see yourself in five years?
4. I love your style - where do you like to shop?
5. Favorite childhood memories?

1. Europe has been absolutely incredible. We're seeing new cities and revisiting some that we've loved and it's just been such an adventure. I love traveling because it gets me out of my head. I get restless so easily being in one place for too long and I feel confined very easily. Being out in the world and seeing new things helps me to feel free and alive and not over-think.
2. At the sake of sounding cheesy, the real answer is my family. They have all been so supportive and encouraging to me and they make me want to work harder and be better. Each one of my siblings and my parents are so talented and giving and loving and it inspires me.
3. I could probably write an entire blog post about this one but I'll try to keep it brief. I've never been good at thinking about the future. I honestly don't know where my life will take me even in 5 months. 
4. Thank you! I honestly shop almost exclusively at thrift shops. There are some great ones where I live and it's so much fun. I love being creative with vintage pieces and making them my own. I recently bought an outer-space pillowcase for thirty cents and cut holes in it and wore it as a dress to my brother's concert. So fun.
5. My family would have a family movie/pizza nights every Friday and a big breakfast every Sunday morning. Every summer we would go to an amusement park together and it was so much fun.




Health (mental/emotional)

How do you balance a relationship or dating with anxiety and depression?

This is a really good, and really tough question. I think that it's different for every person, but I think the most important thing is the person you choose to be with (& really all people you surround yourself with). Having anxiety & depression can make you incredibly vulnerable, and it's so important to be with someone who can handle that and be there for you on the dark days. Guard your heart. Be picky. Wait for someone who treats you like a rare jewel and handles your heart with care. 

Cassidy asked: 

I admire you so much for being able to talk about your depression and anxiety with so many people, on such a public platform. I was wondering if you struggled to talk about these things in high school when you were first diagnosed?

Honestly, yes. I went to a very, very small school and everyone knew everything about everyone. There were no secrets. But the year that I was diagnosed I kept to myself a lot. I had a couple of close friends, but kept everyone else at a distance. I assumed that everyone knew what I was going through and I wasn't ready to talk about it. I think what's really helped over the years is realizing how many people are/were dealing with the exact same things. Some people hide it really well, but for the most part I believe that everyone has pain and sadness in some form. I tried to work on seeing each person as a soul with a story, and I figured that sharing mine would help them feel safe to share theirs as well. If they respond negatively, it often just means that it makes them uncomfortable to think about their own problems & they aren't ready to deal with them. Eventually they will have to, and you will only be stronger and better for being an open and honest person.

Zuzanna asked:

1) Kinda silly but are you into zodiac signs and do you think they actually mean something?
2) How do you ask for help when you're scared of losing your mind, of losing that constantly dark part of you that you know so well it's basically your best friend and biggest enemy at the same time?
3) Have you ever felt like you have no faith in people only because of them hurting you frequently, even the closest ones failing you in every way?
4) How did you deal with having depression and anxiety while being in high school? my hs experience sucked, i had so many days and weeks when i could barely get out of bed, let alone spend a whole day surrounded by unsupportive, close-minded people who only ever asked "why are you so grumpy all the time? geez."
5) Have you ever had any experience with self harming? whether it was
you or someone you know? 
to go onto some lighter topic and just because it's my field:
6) Do you play any instruments?

To be perfectly honest, I was a bit hesitant to answer some of these questions. They are very deep and it scared me to open up this much. But then I realized that I think so many people can relate to a lot of these issues, and I'd love to talk about them a bit. So here goes:
1. I wouldn't say i'm 'into' zodiac signs per-se, but I do read them occasionally and love when I can connect with it. I love finding meaning in all things in an attempt to learn more about myself.
2. Thank you for this question. I think it puts this aspect of depression into words really well. I think the best thing you can do is connect with people that understand. It is easy to think of the darkness as a friend, but trust me, it's not. Once it leaves (and it will) you'll realize that the lightness of life is much more welcomed and loving company.
3. Yes, I have felt this way. But then I see good people, even from a distance, and feel an ounce of hope. The best thing to do is be one of those people & you will attract people with the same goodness in them.
4. High school was hard, I'll be honest. There will always be close-minded people, but that is typically a symptom of brokenness. As I grew stronger spiritually, I realized I wasn't alone and was given the strength to let the words of ignorant people roll off of me, and eventually found friends that saw the good in me and brought that out. High school got much better. (Psalm 94:18-19)
5. Yes, I have. It was a brief period in high school when I was at my lowest. Self-harm is an aspect of mental health that is very hard for people to understand. If anyone would like, maybe we can talk about this in a blog post in the future.
6. Sadly, I do not. I attempted piano and guitar and just didn't have the patience to see it through. Maybe someday I'll pick them up again :) 


Keshi asked:

1. What do you like to do to calm yourself down? I've been getting frequent anxiety attacks and the only way I can calm myself is talk to my friends because they know how it feels. I can't even talk to my parents cause they are always worried (and I don't want them to be worried).
2. How do I stop comparing myself to other artists? I see these amazing clique artists creating amazing pieces of work and I'm here balling my eyes out wondering if I will ever be that good. 

1. First of all, I am so sorry to hear that you're dealing with such a difficult thing. I can definitely relate, and it is so wonderful having friends that understand. If you don't already, I would recommend keeping a journal. That is always the greatest relief to me - getting things out of my head and onto the page. I also recommend practicing deep breathing, listening to calming music, and even coloring.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I always recommend talking to a doctor. Counseling has always been a huge help for me as well. 
2. Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." I believe this whole-heartedly. Unfortunately, comparison is such a deeply rooted human issue, it's very hard not to do. But I think you can rewire your thoughts to turn feelings of inadequacy into inspiration. Look at others' works of art and know that with time, energy, and boldness, your art will be that good. Keep encouraging artists because I guarantee that even the best ones feel the same way.

Arianna M. asked:

How can I make new beginnings/transitions go as easy as possible? I'm starting at a new high school soon, and I don't know a lot of people who go there only a couple. I'm getting very anxious and nervous that I won't make any friends. Any tips to "starting fresh"?

I remember this feeling well. I went to three different universities and every semester I would be so nervous going into a new class. My advice is this: it's never as bad as you think it's going to be. Every single person is nervous, despite how well they hide it. Write a list of 10 things you love about yourself. Keep it with you. The right people will see these things and bring out even more in you. You'll do so well, I know it.

Mariana asked:

How do you see yourself ten years in the future? Does the future and the uncertain scares you? And have you ever thought about make a poetry book or something?

I briefly mentioned this in a previous question, but to go ahead and jump to your second question, yes. The future terrifies me, to be honest. My dad recently asked me about setting up a retirement plan, and my immediate thought was, "There's no way I'll live to be 65!" Which is silly, of course, because who knows. But I rarely think even a year in advance, which isn't always a good thing. But because of that, I am very good at living in the moment. Maybe someday I will be able to envision a future for myself. 
And yes, in fact, I am working on a poetry book for you all right now.




Writing

Yasmeen (@thepantaloon) asked:

1. How do you improve when it comes to writing? I follow your blog, and you are certainly one of the best writers out there (i get super bored reading books, etc. but your blog always seems to grab me.) I have always loved to write but don't know how to get better.
2. How do you deal with writers block?

1. Thank you so so much for your kind words. My answer is rather cliche (maybe because it works): practice. Just like any skill, it takes work to learn. If I go awhile without writing, I realize that it's difficult for me to put my thoughts into words. The more I write, the more easily I can communicate the emotions I'm feeling. It takes a sense of introspection and being in tune with yourself. Meditating is a great exercise for this as well. Journaling is a good place to start & do it as often as possible. Reading is a wonderful way to improve vocabulary and tone as well.
2. Writers' block is a cruel mistress. It's difficult to discern whether it's something to fight, or to recognize it as your body's way of telling you to take a break. Writing can be emotionally draining (and filling at the same time), but there can be a time where you need to step back for a moment. But never for long. I would say when you can't write, read. It'll keep words fresh and stir up the creative side of you. Just never, ever give up. The world needs your words.

Paige Kees asked:

1. What inspires you to write?
2. This might be the same question, but what motivates you? I find myself lacking motivation a lot. 
3. Where would you say your dream place to live would be? 
4. Do you have traditions to get into writing? like, a certain writing utensil, having a cup of tea, etc.
5. Do you keep a journal? 
6. What are your favorite things to write about?
7. Do you have any favorite books? movies? albums?
8. (Extra question, do you plan to visit Oregon sometime?)

You had said to just pick a few, but these are all great questions that I’ve gotten frequently so I’ll go ahead and tackle them all!
1. Over the past couple of years I have gotten into a routine of writing almost each day. I started it as a challenge to myself and went over 6 months writing a poem a day. It was so incredibly helpful to train my mind to be inspired by my daily life. I look up at a full moon and a poem pours out. So I would say practice, like singers trains their vocal chords, you can train your thoughts to flow easily and beautifully.
2. The first thing that comes to mind as far as motivation is community. I started sharing my poetry on tumblr, showing friends and family, and it has made me want to create more things to share with people. It’s an incredible way to connect with other humans and realize that you aren’t alone. I also just have this general need to write, and I can feel myself filling to burst if I don’t.
3. I’m not sure that I have a dream place exactly, but I’ve lived in a place with bad winters my whole life & I’d love to live somewhere that has nice weather all year round. I’m a pretty big fan of California.
4. I’m pretty unorthodox when it comes to writing, I think. My preferred mediums are my iPhone and my laptop. Ideas will come to me at such random times that I just make a note in my phone. And my thoughts come so quickly, I’m much faster at typing than hand-writing so it helps. Listening to music that inspires me always helps get my mind into a creative place. The music changes frequently but in my early days I would always write while listening to Sigur Ros or Damien Rice.
5. Kind of like the last answer, I somewhat keep a journal, but not really a traditional one. In high school I always had a notebook I carried around and would journal when I was supposed to be taking notes in class. Now I do it on my phone in a private account. 
6. Favorite things to write about? Honestly, sad stuff. I’ve always been more attracted to tragedies and because I write as a form of catharsis, it’s usually the things that break my heart that overflow. It’s a relief to get them out of my mind and onto the paper.
7. This is a really tough one because I have so many so I’ll just list the things that first come into my mind. Book: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Movie: Atonement. Album: Takk by Sigur Ros. 
8. I absolutely plan to visit Oregon! I’ve been desperate to make it to the PNW but sadly haven’t...yet.

Amy T. (truetimbre.com) asked:

How do you find the motivation to write on days where you feel empty? And with your anxiety how do you feel when you post them or first started posting them?

To be honest, I don't always find the motivation. Some days I need a break from thinking and I just hang out with friends and watch Netflix and relax. But it can be really good to push through the emptiness and write anyway. Those have ended up being some of the pieces I've loved the most. Structure is really helpful with that - things like taking a class, challenging yourself to write x amount per day/week and being very firm with it, or finding a friend to share your writing with regularly. I definitely always feel anxious when I first post my writing. That's completely normal. I started posting my writing when I was 15, and slowly started receiving encouragement. I would say whenever you share your writing, find someone else's writing and give them some encouragement (a 'like' or a 'reblog' or a kind comment). Chances are, people will start doing the same for you and a community can be built. Any form of creativity is a vulnerability, and we all need each other to build us up to stay motivated and passionate.





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If I wasn’t able to get to your question, please know that I saw it, I loved it, and I will either respond directly to your email as soon as I get the chance, or make another one of these Q&A posts in the future. 

You guys never cease to amaze me. 
You inspire me more than you know. 

xo, 
Ashley


PS

Some of you may know I have a tumblr account, & over the past couple of years I have answered some questions over there as well. Take a look here if you’d like!


Listening to:

Bon Iver - 22 (OVER S∞∞N)

& also


9 comments:

  1. Wow you express yourself so well and answered all the questions beautifully. I feel that I was able to take a lot of great tips from this post.

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  2. Thanks for the lovely post Ashley, I found it to be quite calming to read as well as inspiring. I'm moving into my dorm tomorrow and Monday is my first day of college. I found that a lot of these questions and answers helped me deal with some of my own dark thoughts and I thank you for that. I'll be looking forward to you future blog posts to help ground me when I'm stressing about classes. Thanks again, love 💓

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  3. Thank you so much. So inspiring.

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  4. it's always lovely to read your posts, I really enjoyed this one and I actually got inspired, I think I'm gonna start writing a poem a day, I would love to get better at it.

    hope you have a wonderful week x

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  5. I appreciate these posts so much and look forward to Wednesdays because of them. Thank you and take good care of yourself. :)

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  6. You're such an inspiration, Ashley. Thank you so so much for sharing dark things that have happened in your life. It reminds that there is a always a light at the end of the tunnel. Never stop creating <3

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  7. Girl, we are such kindred spirits. I think Wednesday is starting to become my favorite day of the week! <3

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  8. You have a beautiful mind and outlook on life. Thank you for taking the time to open up to us about yourself.

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  9. Caught up on your blog today, I love it! I appreciate your honesty and encouragement. I also really relate to the imagery of drawing the darkness out of your head and ensnaring it in paper. I don't write a lot but I do draw how I feel. Even if its just a mess of charcoal haha. And I am very excited about this poetry book in the works : ]

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