12.13.2011

Grow Up?

Yep. I'm just a big, dorky kid
When I started this blog nearly one year ago, I knew that I'd be putting myself out there.

With every post I've written since, I'm always aware that I'll be subjecting myself to unnecessary criticism, judgment, and hatred. Sadly, it comes with the territory.

But luckily, that negativity only represents a very small, insignificant portion of the response.

The vast majority of the feedback... is amazing. I'm beyond touched by the incredible amount of love, encouragement, and support I've received from all of you. And I'm truly inspired by the stories you've each shared with me... regarding the impact of my words on your lives. It's just more than I ever dreamed possible...

As I've said many times... I'm still shocked that anyone at all is reading this thing. So... each time I receive any feedback whatsoever --positive, negative, or indifferent-- I'm reminded that someone, somewhere is reading what I write. That's pretty darn crazy. 

Grow up? Me??
In simple terms, I write a blog about animal rescue. But much of the time... I write about life. And over the months, I've shared many of my personal life experiences with all of you.

By doing so, many people feel like they know me, even though we've never met. I think that's awesome... and really freaking cool. 

But of course, there are those always-present critics, who not only feel like they know me, but also feel like they have the right to judge and disrespect me, even though we've never met. 

As with anything in life, there's such a stark contrast between the opinions of the supporters and those of the haters. And while the critics' opinions don't really make a crap to me, I'd still like to use their words --along with the comments of some supporters--  to provide a little more insight into why I am the way that I am...

"She should really grow up..."
In some of those rude, negative comments and messages, I've been told to "Grow up." While I find that pretty darn cute, I have to be honest: I'm kinda hoping that I never really "grow up."

Because... at the core of me, there's a little girl with a dream. And my dream has only come true... because that little girl never "grew up."

She never gave up.

Yet... I also think many people forget that I'm only 27 years old. Just a few short months ago, I was 26. I guess that's how this whole "aging" thing works. Who knew?

The 20's represent a critical time for each of us... to learn, to grow, and to evolve as individuals. This is the decade of our lives where we begin to figure out who we are, what we need, and who & what we love.

"She's really immature"
My 20's are just as important to me... as your 20's are (or were) to your own journey. I learn something new each and every day... and each experience allows me to further become the person I'm meant to be.

However... on the other side of that "grow up" coin... many have often said: "Ashley, you're so wise beyond your years."

While that's a huge compliment to me, it's important to note that any "insight" or "wisdom" I may have... didn't happen by accident.

I was forced to "grow up" long before I ever became an "adult." I've been through a lot in my short life... I've fought battles that most people never have to face... at ages that no one should ever have to face them. That'll make you "grow up" in an instant ... whether you're ready or not.


"She laughs too much."

My parents have watched their daughter go through things that no parent should ever have to witness. My friends and family have seen me through it all... acting as supporters, therapists, and cheerleaders... despite their feelings of helplessness and sadness for me... as I went through things they'd never experienced in their own lives.

Of course, I've never written about many of those experiences... and maybe I never will...

But the point is... I was forced to "grow up" a long time ago. Today, if I really wanted to, I could give a million excuses for being too broken and wounded to go on... and everyone in my life would understand.

But I don't make excuses, and I don't accept pity. I live my life; I follow my heart; I do what I love... each and every day.

I feel so fortunate that I experienced the hardships I had, at the times that I did. Those things helped shape the person I am today. I'm a good person. I do my best. I have no regrets.

"She gets on my nerves."

At the same time... I'm still a 27 year old girl, just trying to make it in this world. I'm a grown up... who's not a grown up. In my opinion, that's the best kind.

Many of my biggest critics... are more than twice my age. I could be their daughter, or granddaughter. So, surely... they're more "grown up" than me, right? Or at least, they should be?

Honestly, at 27 years old, I'm as "grown up" as I need to be. In many ways, I'm too grown up. But I'm still a big kid at heart... and I'll never grow out of that. It makes me... me.

My life hasn't been easy... and I'm thankful for that. My world hasn't been perfect... and neither am I. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm proud of the life I lead... and who I am.

And honestly, that's all that matters.


"Above all else, be proud of who you are." ~Tom Owen, Dad
"There's no Mom on Earth... who's more proud than me." ~Debbie Owen, Mom

"When you're a kid, anything is possible. You think big, you dream bigger, and you know --without a doubt-- that you can do anything. Over time, the world beats us down. The big thoughts are exchanged for conformity. The bigger dreams are traded for stability. The 'can-dos' are replaced with 'can't-dos.' We call that 'growing up.' But really... we didn't grow up at all. We gave up." ~Me, Daughter, Person, Rescuer

56 comments:

  1. I think you are absolutely incredible. You make such a huge difference in the world, and will only continue to do moreso as you mature. To anyone who could say anything negative to someone who is such a light in the world: well, they deserve nothing but coal in their Christmas stockings, for having such cold, hard hearts. THANKS FOR HELPING ALL THE DOGGIES!

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  2. Well said indeed. Wonder why some people are so down or negative on you. Weird. You're doing good things and are happy, so it's none of their business they don't like you. Have a Merry Christmas and a great new years

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  3. I can't imagine that someone old enough to have children your age, wouldn't be proud of said children if they had accomplished the things you have accomplished.

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  4. I think what u do is awesome and it takes a very unique person to do this. I'm 48 and I don't plan on growing up. When we grow up we tend to become old and cynical with no patience. U couldn't do the work u do then. THANK U FOR BEING U!!!!

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  5. Ash,
    You remind me of the old song - "I Gotta Be Me!"
    Always be true to yourself and keep your head up high. And as for the negative people - why are they even reading your blog if they don't like it?

    Live your life to the fullest, and remember a line from another old song - "I'm growing older, but not up." Never be afraid to smile and never lose your inner child. And thank you for all that you do!

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  6. Ashley, I think you are wonderful! You are an angel for all that you do for the fur babies.

    Just remember ... people are always going to have their own "perceptions". At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is your belief in you. You are right ... be proud of who you are!

    {{Hugs}}

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  7. What this world needs is a billion more people like you, Ashley.

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  8. I don't know everything about you or even enough in general to state what kind of change you might need to make in your life, as no one on here can. What I can say is that you are awesome for what you are doing to help all those furry babies out there that you can. That alone makes you fabulous!!! :c)

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  9. Ashley, i just want to tell you that i am behind you 200%. you are a strong, beautiful person with a beautiful heart, mind and soul. i know you will continue doing what you do without these few words from me or anyone else but i am just so moved by everything that you have done for these gorgeous creatures and still continue to do for them despite all the hardships you have experienced in your young life and i was just compelled to tell you as much. i read your blogs almost everyday and i just want to tell you just how much they touch my heart...i find myself crying when any one of your sweet little ones lose the good fight. i cry while looking at the pictures of those in need of a new forever home. i cry looking into the eyes of a sad dog or cat that has given up all his or her hope for a second chance. i cry when you save another of God's better creations from hell on earth...and even now i am crying because i wish i could do so much more than just advocate and share your albums...Ashley, you may not know it, but you are perfect!!! thanks for listening. take care.

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  10. I wish I could half as much as you. You should be proud for what you do and who you are. I must say I cry so hard for all the innocent animals. I almost don't want to go to my facebook page because I'll see all the rescues there.

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  11. You are an incredible individual! You are an amazing lady! You shouldn't have to grow up quite yet. You are learning who you are. Enjoy it! Also, be proud of who you are! There are not many people with a heart like yours!

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  12. Why would anyone be down on you or negative? People don't know the challenges you've had in your life and after all it is really none of their business. You put yourself and your heart into everything you do to rescue dogs that would not otherwise have a chance at life. I think that's pretty amazing and yet I'm sure it is heartbreaking at the same time. If growing up will mean you'll change and not be the caring, giving, devoted person you are today, then never grow up...

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  13. I only wish I had a fraction of the guts you have and could do 1/1000 of what you have done and do for these poor forgotten animals. Keep up the good work and remember you have many, many people out here who love you.

    Old enough to be your grandmother!

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  14. Ashley, you are truly amazing. For those that like to give negative comments and such, they are probably just ashamed that they are not half the person that you are. You are one of a rare breed and I feel that I am blessed each time I read one of your amazing posts. You usually make me cry and smile all in the same post. I have to say that because of you, I advocate for every pet I can on Pet Pardons and I look for ways to help wherever possible. Before you, I knew there was a problem but never the real scope of the problem. So, I am older than you, but I do not feel I am any wiser or in any way better than you. In fact, I hope to be half the person you are someday. I also strive to set the best possible examples of compassion and hope for my 4 year old and you in your own little way are helping me to do that. God Bless you and give all of your rescue babies kisses from me.

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  15. I've never understood the need people have to criticize. I understand the feeling to want to defend and explain yourself to these people,I have the desire to do it all the time. Actually, I don't put myself out there in the first place out of fear of the criticism because I know I can't take it. So you have a ton of courage to be opening yourself up like this. However, all this said, with all the good you're doing, there is no need to explain yourself, and there's a certain level of maturity and compassion that those people are incapable of understanding. Nonetheless, this post is still as valuable as ever. I really admire and look up to your ability to still be a kid and yet accomplish so much. I never want to stop being a kid either.

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  16. Ashley,
    You are perfect just the way you are!!! I wish you only happiness ;)

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  17. "Growing older is pretty much unavoidable, if you keep breathing. Growing UP is entirely optional."

    If I may, I'd like to add a bit of "The Impossible Dream" to the songs already mentioned - "...to fight for the right without question or pause - to be willing to march into Hell for a Heavenly cause - and I know if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, then my heart will lie peaceful & calm when I'm laid to my rest."

    And finally, for the haters - Ash, just hang a sprig of mistletoe on the back of your jeans, and let 'em figure out what to do with it...

    Merry Christmas to all... :-)

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  18. You are an amazing woman! Watching all you do always reminds me that if a 27 year old has accomplished all that you have already, and given so much to others...then I can do more too and I can live out my dreams too. If people call you immature and not "grown up" then i would like to see what their idea of "grown up" is. You inspire so many people on top of all the work you do for the animals, so age really isn't a factor as far as I am concerned, (but regardless )I hope a big part of me never grows up as well. It is a great thing to stay and feel young sometimes!! Thanks for all you do

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  19. Grow old, not up.

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  20. Best wishes to you, Ashley, and all that you do for the homeless dogs!

    But I have to say, I personally am not thankful for any hardships in my life. In other peoples' lives, or dogs' lives either.

    (Hardship is hardship, and it sucks as far as I'm concerned!)

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  21. Best wishes to you, Ashley, and all that you do for the homeless dogs!

    But I have to say, I personally am not thankful for any hardships in my life. In other peoples' lives, or dogs' lives either.

    (Hardship is hardship, and it sucks as far as I'm concerned!)

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  22. I am 53 years old and I must say you have such wisdom for a 27 year old. At 27 I didn't think like you but at 53 I do. You amaze me - keep on keeping on - never give up - and you inspire many, many people - keep spreading that - that is what inspires me! You!

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  23. Thanks y'all! Your comments mean the world to me!

    But I'd have to disagree with the last comment about not being thankful for the hardships in your life.

    I'm truly thankful for the struggles I've faced. I wouldn't be the person I am... if I hadn't gone through those things. Each experience has helped me learn and grow... and I'm better because of it.

    Maybe that's why I have so much empathy for these animals. Hardships lead to empathy for others. I'm beyond thankful for that :)

    Love,
    Ash

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  24. I love reading your blog. I enjoy it. What you do is not just for the animals its for everyone who cares. Keep up the fight. Stay young at heart.

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  25. I always thought growing up was overrated. If you can't laugh through your struggles, your in deep trouble. What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger. I would like to thank you for all you do to save animals lives. I have a resue dog and can't imagine life without him. God sent him to us and he adopted us 5 years ago and that was the way it was meant to be. I just wish we could have saved the retriever that was abandoned with him. We tried.

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  26. I think saving these pets is a wonderful thing. I was raised with dogs. My first word was Bo because he was our pointer mix who sat by me like a babysitter. I have had rescue dogs and cats since then and I advocate daily here. I cannot imagine who would criticize what you have done. I always feel good when I get the pardoned notices. I just wish there were more of them. We all do what we can. Thank you for what you do.

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  27. Ashley, you ARE wise beyond your years. I too have had experiences in my life that nobody should have to go through, but it does build character and compassion and I believe that those experiences have formed us into the individuals we are. I am SO PROUD of you and please DON"T EVER CHANGE!!!!!!!

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  28. The thing that sets you apart, my dear, is that you had the **courage** to follow your heart and your dream. When the negative comments flow, it's probably from those of us older coots who regret not doing the same. You are brave. You are wise. And you have an incredible spirit. Kudos to you, dear girl. You just keep on following that heart of yours.

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  29. Ashley, I just bought a painting of my lab, Lily from Derek! It was amazing the way I found him through your website...I foster dogs and end upn adopting them-I think they call that a "foster failure" but "Pixie" the 1 year old part Boston Terrier part Dashund (yes its true) thinks of it as a success!
    You are an inspiration and keep on doing what you do!

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  30. Ashley- you are perfect just the way you are. I am quite sure that what you do- rescuing, nursing these poor souls back to life, saying good-bye to them once they've found their forever homes, losing some to unfortunate deaths which undoubtedly come too soon for so many of them- has placed you in a place that few of us have ever had to experience.
    So don't ever let the naysayers get to you- as you know it's about their own deficiencies and inadequacies- so keep doing what you do best. I am turning 44 in a couple of weeks, and I feel like I've been through so much- but I'm never too old to find inspiration from your blog and your life work!

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  31. I totally agree with the " Grow Up" part. I'm 32 and just got married last year. I still feel like a kid sometimes. My husband and I wonder where the adult is sometimes. lol

    I don't see why we should have to act like adults all the time. We all need to let lose and just have fun. Don't let a number make you ignore that child that you know, you still are. Embrace the playfulness of being a child. And the goofiness! You do that once a day, and you will smile more. You will shine so bright like the sun! Because everyone needs to feel like just for an hour or two. All the big problems are gone and everything is right in the world!

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  32. Ashley, you are far better off then most. You have made a huge impact on the lives of many dogs, and through your blog, even more people. You have accomplished something very rare. You have been the adult, you have been "grown up" by force...the amazing part is that you came through it stronger. We can tell you are stronger because you learned to be a kid again. I hope we never truely grow up. Thank you for being an inspiration and a role model to us lucky ones that have crossed your path, even if it's just on FB.
    My Best to You and Yours.

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  33. your amazing!! i'm soon to be 46 and can't imagine ever accomplishing the things you have in your short life-stay strong and anyrthing is possible!!

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  34. I admire what you do so much!! Im 29 and its my hearts desire to rescue one day. I have several dogs of my own that are rescues but I wanna do it on a bigger level and you are an inspiration. Keep up the good work and never be scared to ask for help!!! We are here to support you!!!!

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  35. Keep on doing what you're doing for dogs, and dog lovers.

    Forget the rest (jerks are, unfortunately mostly true to character). You shine your light. Let shadows be. They have no way to touch you, Ashley.

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  36. ashley, once again, an awesome blog! i hope some day my son meets someone as wonderful as you! :) God Bless You!
    Kimberly W. Sherburn, MN

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  37. Tia (from Pit Bulls and Parolees) and yourself are my BIGGEST inspirations. I am currently going to school for Animal Cruelty Investigation...anything that helps animals, especially my favorite breed of dog...is important to me. So, thank you for everything you do. I'm jealous that you are capable of doing so much and I have no idea where to start.

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  38. Thats okay Ashley, I will be 55 in January and people are still telling ME to grow up! Never! Like you, I have been through alot in my life. I had stage 4 cancer when I was 21 and believe me it was a LONG 4 years of of painful treatments. I almost didn't make it but I did and here I am. All 55 years of my immature self! Ha! I had a successful career and made my parents proud. So like you I don't give a crap what people think of me. I am kind and giving and my goal is to one day foster homeless dogs and cats. You are an inspiration to everyone. I am amazed at what you do. It isn't easy.

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  39. The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible -- and achieve it, generation after generation.

    Pearl S. Buck

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  40. Awesome post. You're right - the ones who "grow up" are the ones that stop chasing their dreams and just accept reality is it is. They aren't the ones making any changes in the world because they aren't following these seemingly impossible deams.

    Besides! Life is too short to be taken so seriously. I guess your critics just never learned how to let loose and have a little fun. ;)

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  41. I think you are AMAZING!!! Growing up is over-rated anyway ;). Don't ever change!!!!

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  42. Ashly what u do is amazing an theres not enough carin animal lovers in this world that do enough like u do. its the ignorant selfish people that need to grow up animals are not just dumb animals or disposable toys they have needs an feelings too. It makes me mad an sad to know everyday that another undiserving animal has been put down. animals dont ask for much but they give you so much joy. Maybe its the humans that need to be put down, humans are the undiserving ones on this planet!!

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  43. I think you are just perfect as you are!

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  44. Don't leasen to the hater's, you are a great person!

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  45. The problem with people is that they GROW UP without keeping the child alive inside of them. I think there is a saying, "You Don't Stop Playing because you grow up, You Grow Up because you Stop Playing." If you have to be serious in your life all the time what joy are you bringing to others? Keep the child alive and live forever happy (ever see Twilight Zone: The Movie? Watch the Kick the Can Episode or maybe it was on the original series,LOL). Never let those who hate affect who YOU ARE! God Bless Ashley!

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  46. Very well spoken, and grown up is a state of mind and not a number. Some people never grow up, and some people do but also that is a matter of perception. As far as my perception, you are grown up, and you are a great person, if being angry and bashing people is grown up, then I guess I also never want to grown up. I am 40, and same I had hard times to put me where I am at, however that builds you as a person and you have done a fantastic job to turn negatives into positives and even if I am 40 and you are 26, I could learn so much from you. No matter what, you are tops in my book, and should not be "weird" that I look up to someone younger, but I do. You are awesome, and keep it going..

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  47. I admire you Ashley, even though if you do not answer my questions about Pet Pardons before! There are few people like you that the world needs more today.
    Luisa

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  48. Ashley,

    I think that no one has the right to judge you. I only know you through your blogs and Facebook, but I think you are a very kind-hearted, loving, wonderful person who works tirelessly to help animals that no one else would take in. I also think that you are an incredible writer. I love reading your blogs even though most of the time they make me cry. I can't even imagine the heartbreak that you go through when you can't save a dog or one of your dogs passes away, but I know you just keep on trucking. I don't know what has happened to you in your life and if you don't want to share that is your business, but I think you are correct in saying that it shaped you into the person you are now. You should be proud of yourself, you are fabulous and you inspire me to be a better person. I know others feel the same way also. So hold your head up high and don't worry about what your critics say, you know you are saving lives and changing the way people see certain types of dogs. Thank you for all that do. I wish there were more people like you in the world.

    Mary

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  49. Oh girl,I'm 57 and I have abutton that says"I refuse to grow up" And another that says " I was born at night,but not last night!" And thats all one needs to know ! LOL I feel ya! I was forced to grow up too soon as well. I chose the wrong people to reinforce the negativity and self loathing I felt toward myself. After all,thats what I was forced to know. I found out in time,after abusing myself for awhile,my abusers had been abused too. So with a feeling of pity for them and forgiveness to myself,I grew. But I will just put money on it,you are more grown that you were forced to accept the ugly realities of life than alot of your older critics. Too bad for them. They probably have angry lives. Just continue to share the love you feel for those poor abused animals that we [that have been abused] can relate to.Continue to heal through this channel you have found. You are on the path you need to be on! Surround yourself with people that love you back. Avoid the ones that don't. God Bless! Stand firm in your journey. It's not about the destination so much as it is the trip there :) <3 Debbie

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  50. The people that are doing this to you are not happy and they don't want anyone else to be happy! I have met people like that and know what you are going through. As a feral cat caretaker I have my share of people that want to try to mess things up for my cats. Luckily here feral cats with ear tips are exempt from the at large law so they can't do anything about me taking care of them. You keep up the good work Ashley and don't pay any attention to the people that are treating you this way! You are an inspiration to us all!

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  51. Stay a grown up kid for as long as you like, Ashley, because you are going to be a grown up adult for a long time. I'm 51 and I like being a grown up kid from time to time. There's nothing wrong with it. I'm going to go play with my toys now.

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  52. Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. Each and every person on this Earth was once a child who had dreams and you said it best, we didn't grow up...we gave up! I am a huge animal lover but my dream is to work in the music industry and at age 37, I am finally doing it. Well, my grandmother made the comment that "going to concerts all the time isn't a life" and at that moment I realized that she had no idea what my dream was if that was all she thought I was doing and that we have to pursue our dreams even when the world tells us to grow up. What is grown up anyway? I refuse to grow up! Keep doing what your doing and stay who you are. If you changed, then you wouldn't be you and that is what people love you for!

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  53. P.S. As far being thankful for hardships, I too am very thankful for mine. Without them, the wonderful life I have may not feel quite so wonderful because I wouldn't know what it's like to "have it a lot worse" and I wouldn't be the person I am now...which happens to be someone I really kind of like! My hardships gave me strength when I had none.

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  54. Hey Ashley - you are one of the lucky ones that realized her dream and went after it very early in life. This is why at age 27 you are so successful doing every single bit of what you love. A lot of us don't really figure out what we do have a passion for until it's too late. Of course it's never too late to go back to school -- you're never too old to learn -- but when a person has a family and full-time living expenses and obligtions, it's extremely difficult to go after a dream after a certain point in life. You, however, do not ever have to worry about that. By you having the level of empathy and compassion that you have, you are a lot more mature than many people would realize. More often than not the concept of being a grown-up means to give up on your dreams, face the reality of this cold hard world, and stop engaging in activities that kids do. That's nonsense. Growing up, to me, means achieving a level of wisdom on par with your life experiences to allow yourself to become a better human being for yourself and for others. Learning from mistakes and bad experiences makes us worldly, but all too often we can turn cynical if we're not careful, and that's very toxic for the soul; very crippling, because it's shuts off access to the wonderful things in this world that can enrich our lives. Growing up also means keeping up with all of your responsibilites. I think you're doing that just fine. Don't pay any attention to what some people say. You're young and you're SUPPOSED to have fun and engage life with all-out enthusiam! In fact, we should do that at any age. I'm a 41-year old man and I still love goofing and clowing around at times. Nothing decompresses a person like laughter and being silly. We're born with these emotions, so why do we need to shut them off after we reach a certain age?

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  55. Keep on doing what you are doing! Please, don't ever "grow up." That would just be way too boring! When you receive criticism, just remember all the positive, supportive feedback you also receive. That's what counts!

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  56. Gwyneth Paltrow once said "F*** the Haters!!!" You should do the same. I too had to "grow-up" real fast from a rocky childhood. You are two years younger than me and way ahead of the game. Go You! You're a wonderful person! People should be admiring you for your hard work and effords, accomplishments, etc. rather than bullying you!

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