Look Back, Move Forward

Just sharing some thoughts on reflection. Feel free to read... or not. Whichever :)

Lately, I've been taking some time to reflect. To look back... so I can move forward, kinda thing. 

And for me personally, one of the best ways to accomplish this... is to read through some of my old writing... 

That being said... this process is both easy and difficult for me to do, because reflecting on my former words can be preeetty awkward for me...

Why so? Well... for starters, I rarely read my own blog posts. It sounds crazy, I know, but it's true. Mostly because... I'm not really a fan of my own writing.

I write, because I love to write, NOT because I love to read what I write. I write... because it helps me communicate, or feel, or connect with others. Or all of the above. But NEVER because I think I'm "good" at it.

So anyway... point being, the only time I ever really re-read my own writing --after the fact-- is times like now, when I need to reflect, rewind... hit Play, again. 

Otherwise, I'd much rather read what someone else has written, than read my own words. It just feels weird to me... almost gross... to read my own crap. I feel so vulnerable, exposed, naked. Feelings I wish to avoid.

Plus, truth is... I over-analyze everything. My inner critic is a real bitch, if you know what I mean. If you're a writer (or a creator of some kind), you probably know exactly what I mean. If you're not, then it may be a little harder to understand...

But I guess I'd compare it to... hmmm... okay, this is a bad example, but let's go with it: So, you know when you think you're having a decent day --from a physical standpoint-- and then, you take a picture. Initially, you're all like: "OMG let me see, let me see!!!" Then... you look at the photo, and you view yourself through the eyes of the camera. And suddenly, you're like: "Do WHAT now?! I look like THAT?! Um... DELETE!!!"

Now... imagine if that photo of you were posted on the Internet, for the rest of forever, for everyone to see... (you know we all have that one asshole friend who always tags you in the shit they promised to delete... or they said: "I'll never show anyone, ever" ... and then you get a fb notification: "so-and-so tagged you in a photo" ... and you're ready to kick their effing ass...)

Okay... so translate that feeling into something that you've created... something YOU produced yourself. The pressure is already high, because if it SUCKS, then you have no one else to blame, but yourself. But at the time you wrote it, maybe your writing seemed somewhat decent to you... at least worth sharing, right? But reading it back later, you're freaking APPALLED by what you did... what you wrote... what you signed your freaking name to, and shared with others, for all the freaking world to see.

Well... THAT'S why I rarely read my own posts. Because I know I'll have THAT feeling when I do. And I HATE that feeling.

Regardless... when it's time to look back and reflect on my life, there's no better way to do so... than to read my own words. I always read them differently, the second time around. Even when I'm embarrassed as hell, about the quality of something I wrote, or what I said, or how I said it... it's still therapeutic to read back later, in some small way.

So, basically... I said all of that... to say this: when you're trying to find you, sometimes... the best place to look... is back at yourself, in the past. Who was I then? Who am I now? And why did one... become the other? How was I feeling then? How am I feeling now? What did I do wrong then? What could I do right, now? And have I learned from it all, and changed, for the better? 

And most importantly: what do I want for me, for my life... going forward?

It's a weird way of reminiscing with yourself... a good way, actually. But also... it's often the only way to move forward. To move on. To freaking grow, dude.

I guess that's the purpose of my post today. This recent reflection has been really good for me, so I'd like to encourage you to do this for yourself. If you're struggling today... look back at yesterday... or maybe even a couple-of-years-worth-of-yesterdays... and then... follow you into the present. View it almost like a path... leading from who you were then... to who you are now. And make sure that you appreciate the hell outta that path. 

After all... it made you... you.

Then, ask yourself: do I like who I am now? And if so... why so? And if not... why not?

Like I said... I've been doing this recently, and it's a process, of course... but a process that has changed my life. In many ways, I think the "me" back then ... would be so proud of the me now. At how far I've come, at how much I've grown, at what I've learned from it all.

Because... when it comes down to it, every life experience is about learning and growing, right? So much of life is about using whatever mistakes you made back then... to shape the you today, right now... and going forward. It's about learning what you need to do, what you want to do, and what you don't need/want to do. It's about finding out what doesn't make you happy, what does make you happy, and how you can make others happy. 

It's about becoming you... the best you that you can be. 
And then... sharing that you with someone... and with the world. 

At the end of the day... visiting an old you... can lead to a new you, a better you. But ONLY if you let "you" in. It's may not be easy... to look back, and relive the pain, or even the joy, from before. But it's definitely worth it, because it just may change your life...

Accept your past. Embrace your present. Fight for your future.
Apologize to those you've hurt. Forgive those who've hurt you. Forgive yourself.
Don't make excuses for who you are, or why you are that way, or why you aren't another way. 
Don't deny yourself happiness because of something you did... or didn't do... or could've done better. 
Don't think that you don't deserve it... or that it's not worth it... or that it's too late. 
Because it's NEVER too late to be happy.

Trust me... it's worth it.

Look back. Move forward. Grow stronger.
And start living your freaking life, dude! You only get one. And it can be AWWWESOMMME :)

*This one's for you. You know who you are :) 


  1. I get what you're saying. I have kept journals for about 25 years (and I'm not that old!). As a creative person, it's important to think about how far you've come in order to draw faith in your ability to get where you still need to go.
    Also as a creative, it's important to not chastise yourself for the process. The journey is the destination. Self-censorship and perfectionism can get in the way of authenticity.
    I should write that in my journal to remind myself!

    1. Absolutely! I totally agree with everything you said! :)

  2. Okay... comment time. Ashley, you state that you never read what you wrote because you think you're "good" at it. And your own writing is "crap". Well, I have news for you. This guy loves your writing - it is definitely not "crap". I don't know who you were before, but it is your writing that keeps me coming back. Mostly poignant, and many times downright "tear-jerking", by wearing your heart on your shirtsleeves, you draw us in, and involve us. And, by sharing your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, you help us keep on keeping on when the going gets tough. A cheerleader, if you will. Near the end of this blog, where you start: "Accept your past.", you, yourself, need to read this daily to keep yourself focused, because, afterall, it is worth it. Keep the blogs coming. And, thank you for the you now.

    1. That was such an incredible comment, Robert! THANK YOU! Really, from the bottom of my heart... thank you so much for bringing tears to my eyes, in the best way. You're the BEST!

  3. Ashley, Robert is right. I have sat here reading your posts many times, tears running down my cheeks, hoping no one comes in and sees me. Your writing is so raw and truthful that it's hard to read sometimes but also I feel like someone understands and feels the same things I do. Today has not been one of those good days in rescue...it's been a bad one for us at least. I along with two friends are trying to help a small local shelter here in TN and we beg and plead and people do respond, but not fast enough for some. Today there are many sick ones that will be put down tomorrow most likely. So many beautiful souls that I will not see again, only in photos. I feel like I've failed them and I know you have felt that feeling too but we must go on for the ones who are still living.

    1. Sherry,
      Gosh, I just really can't tell you how much that means to me. Really, thank you sooo much! For ALL that you do :)

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