Hi, I’m Ashley!
Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing.
I don’t. I don’t have all the answers & I would be lying if I said I’m sure of where I’m going. I’m not. & I’m okay with that.
I started this site in December 2015 and wanted it to be somewhere for me to promote myself, encourage others, and spread inspiration. But it wasn’t how I wanted it to be. It was so professional. I have cheesy words and a ‘services’ page for anyone looking to, I don’t know hire me or book me. Honestly, I just wanted to inspire and motivate people. I was super big on motivation and inspiration at the time and I really felt like I had a calling to encourage others and share what I learned on my journey through life.
Going to school teaches you to be professional. School drills lessons on how to interact with (what the school system believes is) the majority of society. You have to present yourself in a certain way in order to be taken seriously, at least by the people who could provide you a paycheck or money through grants, or assist with bringing you in to do corporate sponsorship, or invite you to speak to their students, employees, or clients.
So, I made this professional website where I talked all about who I was, what I wanted to do (really what I said I was doing) and then I did a photo shoot (pictures can be found in my gallery). I was so freaking cute. Lol. haha, sorry, I was!! I did the photo shoot and I started this mass social media publication where I shared my website on Facebook and Instagram. I was so excited because people were actually looking at my page, liking my photos, and sharing encouragement & positivity with and through me! It was the coolest thing ever. Not because I wanted the fame (because really? Your family & friends don’t go into your fan count-love you guys, but I’m just saying..you can’t be famous among your family and friend groups, they’re my biggest supporters, not my fans!) The point is, they were all over my site and other social media pages. . . They were awesome, (still are!) and I felt great. I could hear heaven opening up sending down praise and angels because here I was stepping out on faith and getting ready to take on the world. . . I had my first speaking event and it was more than I thought it would be. For a girl who hates speaking in front of crowds, this was so scary for me. But I prepared a speech. I looked at some of my favorite motivation & inspirational speakers and I thought about what I wanted to say and how I would phrase everything. I wanted it to be perfect. And it was. I mean I was nervous, shaking, and my voice cracked a few times. Not to mention I was sweating and the only people who knew the real me were sitting in the room. So it was so perfect. Like I loved it so much, not because I’m conceited or anything, but it was more than I thought it would be. More than I thought I could be… I was proud of myself and thankful to God for showing me just how much of a roar was inside of me this entire time. God is good. He knows how to bring you to things and give you more than you thought you needed. That feeling gave me confidence. Hope. Desire. It gave me wings, I was ready to fly. I didn’t know how yet, but I was ready! I was still waiting for my big moment. But it never came. And after a while I stopped looking for it. I didn’t get bored. I just kind of got tired of waiting for things to be perfect. I got tired of trying to be perfect. I stopped wanting to go places because I didn’t want anyone to see me somewhere and it ruin my chances. I didn’t post on social media because I felt like I had a professional image to maintain. I can’t be out here free, wild, living my life and having fun while also trying to build a ‘positive’ and ‘encouraging’ brand and image as a motivational speaker. Not to mention representing God and my spiritual beliefs!! I want to be taken seriously. I wanted to compete with the men who were in this industry killing it and pouring into young girls (I KNOW, I KNOW, there are female motivational speakers like Lisa Nichols,Iyanla Vanzant, Heather Lindsey, Priscilla Shirer, and a host of other woman) I am not saying there aren’t women out there, but I wanted to be different.
I thought the world was missing me because I’m young and I have a ‘relatable’ story that really shaped who I am. This could be true, but at some point I started to realize that everyone has a story. We’ve all gone through things and that doesn’t make anyone more equipped for life. I was starting to get noticed and I even made connections with people in the speaking industry, ministry, and academic world (for grant opportunities, networking, and even did freelance work for IU, traveled to Atlanta to speak at a university, and spoke at several schools throughout Indiana). Just saying, there was traction there. Even traction to keep me going. I could see that if I tried, and I was trying, that I could take this thing all the way. In just a few months I had made a name for myself, started getting paid, and felt like I was really changing lives. But my life started changing. I would speak and once I was done, I would think ‘Am I taking my own advice.’ Am I really living my dream? Is this what I want to dedicate my life to? Will traveling the world speaking at schools, conferences, churches, and different events make me happy? Will I need anything else? Deep down, I knew that I would.
Taking on a career like motivational speaking comes with a cost to not only your professional life, but also to your personal life. It becomes who you are. I would have to really change who I was in order to become who I thought the world would want to see in a motivational speaker. I would need to clean some things up and be cautious of my social media behavior if I ever wanted a church or someone in ministry to take me seriously. Lord knows I don’t want anyone looking at me enjoying my life on a beach in a bikini as I prepare for my spiritual tour or inspirational sermon. I would rather people be inspired by my flaws. My courage. My fears. My tears. My strength. My endurance. My living. Not my dying. Because a part of me was dead, trying to be perfect. Trying to be politically, religiously, professionally correct. I don’t want to be right. I don’t know what is ahead and I’m not sure how things are going to work out for me, but I know they will. I know that if I do everything without limits, if I am confident and unafraid to explore the world then the world will be mine. I will be free and happy. I never wanted to be a role model.
For a long time, I just wanted to be understood. I wanted to be able to share my life and experiences with someone who may be going through the same thing so that they know they can make it because I did. But I stopped wanting to be a leader. When you try to make your past a living example for people, you stop living in the present. You bring so much life into what used to be, because you have to sell the story. You have to make it real and I can’t. I don’t want to live in the past. I want to be right where I am. I want to be free. I want to look crazy. I want to laugh and love and live as if no one is watching, even if they are. Because who cares? Seriously, who really cares? To believe in God, you have to believe that he’ll take care of you. Most of the stories in the bible surround people who didn’t look equipped for the job. God didn’t have to dress them up or get them right so that others would stop judging & just listen to them. It didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now.
Those who will follow and are inspired by you will do so because you’re living your life, not because you’re telling them how to live theirs. . .
So, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what’s ahead. I know there are things I want to do. Dreams and goals I’d like to accomplish. Things I want to pour my heart into because they’ll make me happy. And that is all that matters. It isn’t selfish. It isn’t crazy. . or maybe it is. And that’s okay too. God hasn’t changed his mind. He hasn’t taken me on this journey just because. I’m learning through everything and I’m realizing that where I am right now is just preparing me for all that I’ve asked for. Some things I will get and some things just aren’t for me. & I’m okay with that. But I won’t stop asking. I believe that God will give me the desires of my heart and then some… I believe that it is okay for me to be who I am, or who I want to be.
You can ask God for what you want, but you can’t tell him how to give it to you.
So, I’m just living my life.
Ashley believes that there is nothing that can stop us from achieving our goals. She believes that we all have the power and ability to go beyond adversity and create amazing things that will change and contribute to our society. Ashley was born in Flint, Michigan. Her mother moved her and her two siblings to Indianapolis, Indiana when she was 9 years old with dreams of providing a better lifestyle for her children. Ashley loved learning but did not see the value in making and choosing the right environment and friends. During her junior year of high school, Ashley was expelled from school and told she could never return to that school. Ashley knew this was not the final destination for her academic career so she enrolled in night classes, while finishing her Certified Nursing Assistant program, and returned to that school the following fall. She graduated from high school May 2009 and was enrolled at Indiana University June 2009. She knew then that nothing could stop her from achieving the dreams and goals she had set for herself. Ashley received her academic credentials through the School of Public and Environmental affairs at Indiana University. She received a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management and Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs. Ashley is currently a second year Masters of Public Health candidate at Indiana University. Her concentration is Public Health Administration. Ashley hopes her story provides guidance and hope for others to overcome adversity with a triumphant mind, body, and spirit to become better versions of themselves. Her goal is to inspire and empower youth to pursue educational advancement as this is the key to impacting and changing our society. Ashley believes that changing the world requires changing our mentality.
“We must change what we believe, what we see, and what we do.”-Ashley