Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Really? Another Serious Post, Ashley?

Courage is relative.

I used to think I was a pro at adapting and starting over.

Growing up, we moved every three years. That means being the new kid a lot. In 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th grade, to be exact. Making new friends, getting used to a new school (sometimes a new COUNTRY!), and being lost were second nature to me.

In college, I totally had wanderlust. Besides visiting my family in Malaysia once or twice a year, I once went to Vancouver for the weekend on a whim, travelled to London for a Thanksgiving break, and spent a semester studying in Honolulu, Hawaii.

I was independent, it's fair to say. I wanted to be a teacher in an international school, living somewhere with palm trees and eternal summer. I hoped to fill another passport and spend my time traveling as often as possible.

Well, apparently, I've settled. I live in Ohio, I miss another city in Ohio, and I'm nervous about taking a class at a COMMUNITY COLLEGE*.

My last post hinted that I was feeling a little "homesick." Since I lived in Dayton longer than I've lived ANYWHERE, five...whole..years... I miss that familiarity. That comfort of knowing somewhere like the back of your hand. Knowing people in the community. Having favorite places - like our coffee shop, grocery store, and movie theater. So many memories in that little city.

Ashley from a few years ago would not even RECOGNIZE this Ashley. When I first met my husband, I balked when he said he'd still want to be living around there in five years. "Why would anyone want to settle for HERE?!" I thought (and, uh, maybe said?).

Oh, how thing's have changed.

This past Saturday morning, as I wandered around the community college, looking for room 133 (which was, by the way, tucked neatly back into an obscure hallway) - I was nervous. Very nervous. My heart was beating, I started to doubt myself, and think: I should just forget the whole thing. Who needs "Mac Basics" and "Foundations of Layout & Design," anyway? I'm probably going to be so much worse than everyone else! They'll be so good, and I'll embarrass myself!

Before I went into the classroom, I scribbled on my notepad - because expressing myself is the only way I know to relieve stress or anxiety - "Why am I so nervous? I'm twenty three years old attending class at a community college. I need to relax and just try."

As I was sitting in the classroom, still feeling a bit anxious and uncertain, I glanced down at my planner and noticed the quote I had placed on the front last year:

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
- Anais Nin

I took a deep breath and let those words sink in. Sure, moving to a new city or taking a few classes may not seem like "courage" or "expanding" my life to some, but I found comfort in that thought.

It's all relative, really. As I've gotten older, I've been more okay with being rooted. With forming relationships with my community and adding to the value of where I live. Yesterday, Alexa and I were talking about how great Cleveland is and how it really doesn't deserve its bad rap it gets sometimes.

I remember quite well the exact moment in which it all changed for me. Learning more about Dayton and it's challenges and assets - and I came to realize: It's better for communities if I don't move constantly. It's better for the environment if I live somewhere I don't have to drive as much. It's better for the region if I don't contribute for the "brain drain." It's better for ME if I learn more about my community.

I guess I don't need to rationalize why I haven't ended up traveling constantly, living overseas, or experiencing exotic, new things. "Newness" is really relative.

I guess I just have different priorities now.

* I'll tell you how the class went another day. :)


  1. sounds like you're experiencing MAJOR personal growth, darling.

    isn't it awesome and awesomely frightening at the same time?!

    sidenote: i've always heard that "cleveland rocks."

  2. A) Who is that ADORABLE little boy?! Cuteness!

    B) I find comfort in familiarity now when a year ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of settling in the Chicago 'burbs instead of a city on the coast. But I think there's something so beautiful about the midwest way of life. I want to soak it up.

  3. Wowzers -- When you said "Aren't I too young to be settling down?" on Twitter and then I clicked on your post and saw the first picture of the little kid -- At first I thought you were announcing that you were planning on starting to have kids! Whoa! OK, so it's not that -yet-. That would have been really crazy news! Anyways, back to what your actual post said -- I'm sorry, I feel like this comment is CRAZY already! ha. Sometimes I get a little out of control with my comments- must focus! :) Oh, and btw -- Thanks so much for your sweet comments! Boo - too bad you're not closer to my neck of the woods or vise versa. Hopefully we really do get to meet up one day! I think we'd have the best of times! Anyways ... I think what you're doing IS brave! Since you've always known constant change and adventure, settling down a little bit in a new place is BIG! And taking a college class when you've been out of college -- and on a subject you're really interested in - can be scary too! I think it's awesome you went for it and I can't wait to hear all about it! And you really don't need to rationalize anything - you're doing just fine! After all that traveling and everything it's totally fine to stay in Ohio for a bit! And soon I know your new home will start to feel just as at home as Dayton.

  4. i think that everything you are experiencing is TOTALLY normal and i personally think that you are doing FABULOUSLY.

    and im here for any questions you have! i need to give you my number not in a comment. : )

  5. Even though I've had only one encounter with Dayton (2002), I thought it was nice and understand (somewhat) how you could miss it. But I think that even when you're in the same place every day, new stuff comes along anyway. That's just what happens when you're living your life.

    Return quote for you: "A life lived in fear is a life half lived." (got that from "Strictly Ballroom")

    We'll work our courage together. :)

  6. Profound words there. Like you, I have moved all over and love the newness of everything once moved. Also like you, I am trying to learn that its ok to stay put and really put down roots somewhere.

  7. I absolutely love that quote. And I sometimes feel the same as you. I wonder if the EP of a few years ago would recognize who I am today.

  8. Settling down has been the most amazing journey for me. I wish you the best.

  9. That is one of my FAVORITE QUOTES!!!! I have it written in my planner with some other quotes that I read when I need a little boost while I'm at work!

    Hang in there, life is full of's about how we deal with them and how we grow.

  10. you are so brave! ...and now, I will be stealing that quote for my own little courage, so thanks!

  11. i miss you - where you been?

  12. That really is a great quote. I hope you have a great time in your new class!! I used to always get anxious on the first day, even when I was used to going to school

  13. I grew up moving around a lot as well. I had the oposite reaction to it, though. All I wanted was to have a place to call home. When people ask me where I am from, I really don't know what to say.

    I love to travel - but I could not want to have had a single place to call home more.

    Good luck with the classes!


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