Don’t Fear the No

Life

“It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” (-Steve Jobs)

My name is Ashley and I’m addicted to being a people pleaser. I also hate being rejected, so is it any surprise that I strongly dislike the word ‘no’?

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TRUTH. (source)

When you have a dream and then get told no, it won’t work for whatever reason, it can really sting. Even after a lifetime of rejection, it still sucks. Because I hate being told no, I also avoid saying it to other people. This can lead to me being walked all over, like a human doormat. Definitely not fun, but I’m the only one to blame when it happens.

Even though hearing the word ‘no’ can feel defeating, I’ve come to realize it can actually be empowering.

I’m currently looking for my next career opportunity, which has been a lil stressful to say the least, mostly because I feel like I’ve spent the better part of the last 18 months applying to and interviewing for jobs. I only had a brief respite about a year ago, when I had just started as a copywriter after 4 months of unemployment, and I was really looking forward to spending the next year growing into that role (and we all know what happened just a few months later) instead of looking for a new one.

Working part-time has been a blessing in some ways, allowing me more time to pursue other interests (like running, and this blog) but ya girl wants to support herself again and feel like I’m doing something productive, so I’m searching for a full-time role that will hopefully last longer than my last job.

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Mine barely pays this much in a year *eyeroll* (source)

Since I’m fortunate enough to still be bringing in a paycheck (no matter how small), I’ve been able to be more relaxed about the job search but I’m impatient and want to be done looking and just be working my next job already. I’ve also been lucky enough to be contacted by a few recruiters, which has taken some of the stress off me. But here’s where that ‘no’ comes in.

You see, I’ve never said ‘no’ to a job offer that’s come my way. Granted, I’ve only had a handful of offers extended to me, but still. After being on the other side of the ‘no’ (being rejected for many jobs), I was hesitant to say ‘no’ to a prospective employer. Maybe I’d be somewhere totally different in my career now if I had, but what’s done is done.

Just recently, I had a phone interview that was facilitated by one of the recruiters I’ve been working with. For more context, the job was with the company I was laid off from 6 months ago (they got rid of the digital marketing side of the business to focus on what they currently do, hence the downsizing), in a role that was not at all what I have experience in, but the recruiter seemed to think it would be a good opportunity, and I’m usually game to do a phone interview just to test the waters, so I thought nothing of it. I had a good conversation with the hiring managers but assumed they would go with someone else (because of my lack of experience in said role).

Well, apparently they were impressed by me for some reason because the recruiter called me back almost immediately and said they wanted to move forward. Which I took to assume the next stage of interviewing, so I was like ok sure. Come to find out they actually want to HIRE ME because the recruiter passed along a background check and drug test to complete. At this point I’m like, yeah I don’t think I want this job. I mean, it would be interesting to get the different experience, but from my understanding, this wasn’t necessarily a permanent role (it was temp-to-hire, which I guess is ok but I’m looking for something that’s definitely more solid) and even though the pay (I hadn’t officially gotten an offer, I was just going on what the recruiter told me) was a lot more than I’ve been paid before, I would be working in DT Phoenix again and I’m not a fan of that long commute (my current commute is already hella long). I wouldn’t want to get an apartment closer to work in case the job didn’t work out and I was left searching again, plus the last layoff left a bad taste in my mouth about the company.

TBH this would have been the only reason to take this job. (source)

Doesn’t sound like a promising job, right? But here’s the kicker: I spent a couple days ruminating over what I would do…because I didn’t want to piss off the recruiter this far into the hiring process. I didn’t want to reject a job because I thought it would make people feel bad.

Ummmm…WTF?! Thankfully, I wised up, took a deep breath and crafted a nicely worded email to the recruiter thanking her for her time but saying I’m not interested anymore. And it was so fucking hard for me to do that, but it made me realize that there’s power in saying no. I’m taking control of my life and my career by saying no. Hopefully, it won’t sour my relationship with the recruiter (because I have been getting valuable job leads from her…this one just wasn’t right for me) but if it does…so fucking what? I’m capable of finding a job on my own (I’ve done it with all my jobs so far) and if I don’t find a new job soon, at least I have my current one until the timing’s right and I find a position that’s the right fit for me, instead of jumping at the first offer that lands in my lap.

And I’ll be honest here, after a phone call with the recruiter after she got my email, I kinda feel like maybe I burned my bridges with her and the company. She seemed pissed that I was reneging, but to be fair, they hadn’t even given me an actual offer yet (not even a verbal one) and they just assumed I had given notice at my current job and could start there on May 27th. Um, no. I’m not going to give notice at my job when I don’t have an offer in hand with the full details of my job. You didn’t even ask me when I would be available to start, if I have any vacation plans lined up they need to know about (which I do), etc. Like, sorry that you have to find someone else to fill the spot now, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been ghosted by an employer when I spent hours preparing for interviews, doing sample assignments for them and communicating back and forth for weeks only for them to go silent and never tell me they hired someone else. I think what I just did pales in comparison to that, but if it screwed over my chances with them in the future, whatever. Like I said, I’ve had better luck finding jobs without a recruiter’s help and I just made the right decision for me and them by not taking a job I wouldn’t have liked, just so I wouldn’t make them mad in the moment.

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How I’ve felt with almost every job I’ve interviewed for. (source)

So now I’m back to the search, but it’s ok because I have a couple things in the works there and I’m honestly trying my best not to freak TF out over it (which could be a whole other post really) and just see where things end up.

It was scary to say no, but I think it’ll be worth it.

Do you have trouble saying no? How do you deal with hiring process BS? 

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A Letter to My Eating Disorder

Life

In honor of NEDA Week (National Eating Disorders Awareness), I’m opening up about my struggle with anorexia that began more than 10 years ago.

*Note: This post may be triggering to some people who have struggled with an eating disorder. I am not mentioning any specific numbers but just be aware if this is a sensitive subject for you to read with care (or skip the post). Thanks for understanding!*

Dear Eating Disorder,

It’s been more than a decade since you snuck into my life. You didn’t arrive with loud fanfare; rather, you silently infiltrated my thoughts over time until I was fully in your grasp. It started out innocently enough, with me wanting to eat healthier. Unlike many girls with eating disorders, my concern at first wasn’t with my weight. I was always petite growing up and didn’t really think twice about eating cereal or candy. No one ever insinuated I needed to lose weight, it was more the opposite. But a health class my freshman year of high school got me thinking about my eating habits (which certainly weren’t terrible — I never had a huge appetite and I mostly gravitated towards healthier things like fruit and whole grains).

Suddenly, I was seeking out low calorie options like Lean Cuisine frozen meals and sugar-free Jell-O pudding. Breakfast devolved into a slice of 45-calorie toast topped with maybe a teaspoon of almond butter if I was feeling generous and “hot chocolate” made with cocoa powder and a packet of Sweet-n-Low. Dinner was a often a measly portion of plain black beans and white rice. I grew up always having a snack before bed and that quickly disappeared.

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That’s me on the left in February 2009. Just a few weeks before my parents confronted me about my ED and I started recovery. I look like I was having fun but deep down I was struggling so much. I was 16 years old and about 25 pounds underweight.

Once my brain was sufficiently starved, then I started seeing myself as being “too fat” and asking for advice online on how to lose weight. Never mind I was already underweight to begin with. I became obsessive over my body image and never felt good enough. I had already drifted apart from most of my childhood friends early on in high school and by my junior year, I didn’t have many left, so I clung to you. I thought you would help me feel confident and less alone but little did I know, you did the exact opposite.

I wanted to die the day in March 2009 my parents confronted me about you. I cried so much and I was so scared about what they would think. You told me to deny everything, but by opening up, I felt a release. Months of hiding you were finally over, and I was finally free.

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Even just a few months into recovery, I was so much happier and healthier. Definitely still had a long ways to go.

Well, not really. The thing about eating disorders is they don’t suddenly disappear once you start recovery. Many people say they’ve been able to fully recover, but I’m not sure I’ll ever completely be rid of you. Ten years after starting the difficult journey of recovery, I still encounter you from time to time. Some days I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror. Sometimes I flirt with letting you back into my life, and I start counting calories again, becoming obsessive over exercise, restricting foods from my diet under the guise that I can just do it until I reach my goal weight. But if I’m being honest with myself, there really is no one goal weight. If I reach it, I’ll immediately want to go even lower. You’ve left scars on my brain that may never fully heal, which is why I have to be very careful not to let you into my life even a little bit. If I give an inch, you’ll take a mile. I’ve had minor relapses I’ve been able to bounce back from, but it takes every ounce of energy I have not to give into you and take the easy way out.

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I don’t want to be scared to eat my favorite (vegan) foods again just because of calories.

 

But you know what? It’s worth it to me to keep fighting every day to keep you out of my life. Without you, I can actually have a life. I can go on vacation and feel confident in a swimsuit. I can go out to eat and not spend hours beforehand agonizing over the “safest” thing to order on the menu and instead order what I’m actually in the mood for, whether that’s a salad or loaded vegan fries. I can be present in conversations with friends and family instead of mentally adding up the calories of what I’ve eaten that day. I can go for a run or a hike because I enjoy doing those things, not to burn calories. I can dream of a future for myself where you’re not in the picture at all.

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Still not fully recovered but a hell of a lot happier/healthier in 2019 than 2009.

 

 

I may not be completely out of your grasp yet, but trust me — I will keep fighting and doing what it takes to not let you ruin my life again. I deserve to live a happy, full life and sadly, that doesn’t include you.

 

Sincerely,

Ashley

 

If You Run, You’re a Runner (My Running Journey)

Life

“Run wild / I’m on a mission and I won’t stop / No destination but it’s worth a shot / You gotta let me go / You gotta let me go / You gotta let me go” (Thutmose & NoMBe, “Run Wild”)

Running. It’s one of those things that seems to be so polarizing — people either love it or hate it. For years, I fell into the latter camp. Well, not really. I was more ambivalent about it. I grew up taking dance classes from the age of 3 or 4 up until high school, which helped me stay active but it was more for fun. I did love playing outside and going for bike rides but I was never one of those kids who played sports. Except for the two seasons I tried YMCA soccer and realized I have no coordination. And I also took up tennis in my teens, but again, more for fun (I never played for a school team).

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I definitely loved dancing because of the costumes! Throwing it back to ’99 and the era of bangs and pink sequins. 

It wasn’t really until I got to college that I viewed physical activity as something I “had” to do, instead of just to enjoy myself. Mostly this was tied to my eating disorder, so I felt compelled to exercise. Surprisingly, I never went to the gym during undergrad — I mostly did at-home workouts to quell that voice in my head (and would still play tennis for fun when I went home on weekends or breaks).

I started my first job a few months post-graduation, and moved away to Tulsa. This gave me access to a gym right in my apartment complex, and I was determined to use it. And I definitely did, but I happened to discover something I enjoyed even more — running.

During my college days, I followed a lot of healthy living bloggers, many of whom were runners. I always thought wistfully about running, but then told myself it wasn’t in the cards for me. The few times I attempted going for a run, I felt out of breath and slow. It made me really question my fitness level. So I put it on the back burner, until one beautiful spring day in May 2014.

There was a great paved trail just across the street from my apartment complex, that ran along the Arkansas River and next to Turkey Mountain. I had never lived so close to water before, so it was magical to me (even though the river was often fairly low, let’s be honest). When I moved to Tulsa, I alternated going to the gym with walking along this trail for a few miles. But one day, I got the urge to try running. And it was like a switch had flipped on in my brain, and suddenly, I was obsessed (in a good way). I still wasn’t in running shape obviously, but for the first time, I felt like it was something I could do.

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The face of a proud newbie runner. 

It started off slow, with walk-run intervals. I would run as far as I felt I could, walk for a ways and then start running again. A huge breakthrough came in early June, when I ran 5K (3.1 miles, for those not in the know) without stopping…in the rain. I was super proud of myself and motivated to keep going.

 

I invested in some better shoes (I first started running in Converse-style sneaks…bad idea) — buying my first pair of Nikes in November 2014 got me hooked on the brand and I haven’t run in anything else since. I bought some more workout gear, like cute sports bras and tank tops. I downloaded more music to my phone to help pump me up during runs.

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Only in Tulsa can you run by a river AND Christmas trees!

I ran in all kinds of weather — rain, hot/humid summer days, cold/cloudy winter days with snow flurries, when there were literally tornado watches nearby (probably not my smartest move). Because my work schedule was so whack (when I first started running, I was working evenings from 1:30 to 10:30 pm, then switched to early mornings from 4:30 am to 12:30 pm and eventually to overnights from 10 pm to 6 am), I ran at basically any time of the day I could fit it in. Sometimes, it was before work in the mid-morning, sometimes it was after work at 7 am or in the midday heat, sometimes it was in the late afternoon/early evening soon after waking up when I worked overnights. I covered every mile of the trail across from my apartment that spanned from just south of downtown all the way to the suburb of Jenks, and even tried a few other trails that connected to it.

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Running trails > running pavement. 

I even tried trail running at Turkey Mountain, and loved it. It was so cool to be so close to nature and enjoy it in a different way than if I were hiking.

When I moved to Tucson in January 2016, I was thrilled to discover that my new apartment was about a mile from another amazing trail that went along a river (technically the Rillito River is more of a wash and only ever had water in it after it rained). I ran there the first time just a few days after moving in and knew I had found my happy place. Unlike in Tulsa, I was never able to run on every segment of the trail because it was much longer, but it was even more beautiful and close to nature. I saw rattlesnakes and coyotes twice each, some javelinas once and so many lizards and roadrunners. This is where I truly discovered my love of the desert.

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I mean, how can you not love running with the view of saguaros & mountains?

Just like in Tulsa, I ran in all kinds of conditions — during cold winter rains, on days when it was 105 degrees (or hotter), after a monsoon storm, while the sun was setting (my favorite time to go). I also ran trails at Sabino Canyon a few times, which was an incredible experience, being surrounded by saguaros and mountains. It was in Tucson that I began regularly running more than 3 miles at a time. It was where I truly fell in love with running.

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I miss Tucson’s beautiful trails. 

I was definitely sad to leave Tucson behind in January 2018 because I wasn’t sure there were any running paths in the Phoenix area that could compare to those in the dirty T. And TBH, I haven’t found any that rival the Rillito River path. There are some trails that run along the canals here, but I haven’t run them because I don’t live close enough to them and there isn’t parking nearby. I ran once at Papago Park when my family went there to hike, which was amazing, but it’s too far away to be a regular running spot. I also ran once at the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert which is much closer and I would definitely like to go back, but it’s not the same as Tucson. I’ve mostly run neighborhood streets since I moved here, including a short trail that runs through my area, which is fine because before this, I had never run in residential areas. It’s definitely different and cool in its own way but I much prefer the trails I was used to in Tulsa and Tucson. I guess I got spoiled living so close to great running paths.

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Sunset runs have my heart. 

Despite this, in the past year I’ve run the most I’ve ever had. When I was unemployed I had so much free time that I could run most days of the week and even now, I run at least 4 to 5 days a week. The longest distance I’ve ever run is 7 miles, which I’ve now done a couple of times, along with some 6 milers and several 5 milers but my sweet spot is 4 miles. Running just comes so much easier to me these days, and I love it. That’s not to say that some days I’m not excited to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement. Once I’m out there though, my whole outlook changes and I can often convince myself to run further than I planned on. Having a killer playlist helps (I’m always buying songs on iTunes so I have new stuff to listen to), as do cute workout clothes and shoes.

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7 miles and proud of it!

I ran 110 miles in January, the first time ever running at least 100 miles in a month. I know some people can run 100 miles in one race, or even reach that mileage in a week or two so it doesn’t seem that impressive but for me, it is. It’s taken me nearly 5 years of running to reach this point, but I’m proud of myself for my dedication.

I know I’m nowhere near the fastest runner out there, and my usual weekly mileage is somewhere between 15 and 20 miles, but the fact that I run consistently makes me a runner. I’ve never run a race before (not even a 5K) and honestly don’t really have plans to because I run for myself, not to compete with anyone else. I know I could race just to compete with myself, but I know it would put me in a bad head space and I wouldn’t enjoy running anymore. I don’t need race results or other runners to motivate me (though I do start running faster when I encounter other runners out there, so thank you for that!), I can do it all by myself. I run to clear my head, to get closer to nature, to improve my self-esteem and mood, to feel alive. That to me is more important than any medal.

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I’m a serious runner, yo!

For anyone out there who’s just starting their running journey, and you feel slow, or coming back after an injury and feel weak, or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been running for awhile but you don’t run as fast or as far as the runners you see on Instagram — don’t doubt yourself. If you run, you’re a runner. Whether you can only run 5 miles or even 1 mile, you’re just as much of a runner as any marathoner. And you should be proud of that, because I know I am.

 

 

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Running makes everything better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a runner? If so, how did you get started in the sport?