Expressing myself through innovative, though-provoking words to inspire and motivate others :)

How to Enjoy Being Single, blog post by Ashley Amor

The irony in being single is once you announce it, people react like it’s a disease:

 

“I’m single.”

“What? Really? How?!”

(point noted)

 

More often than not, people confuse being alone, with being lonely. Alone and lonely aren’t synonyms. Truth be told, there are plenty of people who enjoy their solitude, and unfortunately, also many out there who feel alone, no matter if they’re dating or surrounded by friends.

 

So the question is, “Which one are you?”

 

Are you embracing your season of singleness, or are you wallowing around feeling sorry for yourself? Let’s be transparent: many of us have thrown ourselves a pity party for being single (myself included). I completely understand. You attended three your friend’s weddings, your cousin recently got engaged, every post you scroll past on Instagram is of a couple with hashtag relationship goals, and your family is still asking you at every reunion or holiday get-together, “You met someone yet?”

 

The answer is still the same:

And honestly, what’s the rush?

 

Why are we wasting time comparing ourselves to everyone else’s life, instead of enjoying our own? That is the harsh reality I had to face, and afterward, I finally felt free. After seven years of being single, I love it. Why? Because I’ve discovered there are so many things we’re able to accomplish and learn while we’re solo, as opposed to being in a relationship:

 

  1. Personal Growth

Knowing who you are is one thing, learning how you are is another. When you’re single, you’re not focused on pleasing someone else or first impressions. You have time in your adult life to discover you: if you’re an introvert or extrovert, a morning person or night owl, overly sarcastic and witty (definitely referring to myself now haha), goal-oriented or laid back, as well as character traits you’d like (or need) to improve, such as respectfulness, productivity, and social skills.

 

  1. Traveling

Yes, it’s possible to travel the world as a couple, but going on your own is definitely an unforgettable experience (and not to mention, much cheaper). Being exposed to different cultures, societal norms, climates, and languages is truly humbling. It also builds your confidence. When you’re alone in a foreign land, you’re forced to step outside of your comfort zone, make new friends, learn new things, think outside the box, and tap into survival skills.

 

  1. Developing Your Career and Financial Stability

Time is of the essence; spend it wisely. Statistics have shown a correlation between financial problems and unsuccessful marriages. People who are in relationships are forced to divide their time and attention between work and their significant other. When you’re single, you don’t have to. You can work on paying off debt, improving your credit score, investing in your skills, and climbing the financial ladder BEFORE sharing a life with someone else.

 

  1. Building True Friendships

Everyone you meet is not going to be your spouse, but they can play a significant role in your life. Keep this mindset. It is very possible to meet someone of the opposite sex and join forces, not as a marriage, but as partners in business, professions, ministries, and so on. When you’re single, you can consciously build an authentic friendship with someone and identify their purpose in your life, whether it be for a season or for a lifetime.

 

  1. Strengthening Your Relationship with God

The most important thing you can do right now in your season of singleness is work on your intimacy with God. As a Christian, I knew that this was the most important relationship of my life. I couldn’t expect anyone to desire spending time with me, learning who I am, or to effectively love me, if I wouldn’t do the same with the God I believe is the Creator of all things. Being single gave me time to focus on God’s will for my life, edifying my gifts and talents, and discovering who I am through Christ. When you’re single, there is no one distracting you from reading the Bible, increasing your prayer time, and emotional healing.

 

Last, but not least, remember that things aren’t always as they seem. We’re all too familiar with celebrity couples, and even family and friends, who were married or in relationships that looked perfect on the outside, but behind closed doors dealt with infidelity, abuse, and other issues. Don’t believe the hype. What is meant for you will come in due time. Until then, enjoy life, love yourself, follow your dreams, and move to a beautiful Caribbean island (like I did, haha).

ashley swimming in lake in puerto rico

Remember when you were a kid, that time you asked your parents, “Can I drive?”

Their answer was the obvious, “No.” (Or a loud, obnoxious laughter in place of an answer, if you had a dad like mine.)

Although hurtful, receiving a “no” was actually a good thing. Our parents, as harsh as as their answer felt, knew what was best for us. Putting car keys in the hands of a child would’ve been more than a threat to our lives. Eventually, they allowed you to drive, once you were of age and trusted behind the wheel. So, technically, their answer wasn’t a “no.” It was a “not now.”

I believe life happens that exact same way.

A new job, a promotion, college acceptance, a loan, new opportunities. Sometimes, we’re so eager to hear a “yes,” that receiving a “no” feels worse than a stab wound. It can crush the spirit, making people doubt themselves and lose hope.

Was I good enough?

Will I ever succeed? 

When will my time come?

We can come up with 50 reasons why we should mope around and be upset, yet never consider that it probably wasn’t the right time. Think back to your childhood. How many things did you want before you were tall enough, strong enough, mature enough, and wise enough to have or handle?

Throughout my adulthood, I’ve realized on more than one occasion, hindsight, that I wasn’t ready for things I wanted. There were jobs that I applied for, that never called me back. There were people I tried to maintain in my life, who fell off the radar. There were creative ideas I shared with various people, who never took them into consideration. But looking back, the time wasn’t right.

If things had went my way back then:

  • I never would have applied for other jobs that hired me and offered more 
  • I never would have met and befriended the new, amazing people in my life today who encouraged and supported me
  • I never would have mustered up the courage to launch my dream career as a writer

When things don’t go our way, consider that maybe it was for our benefit. If the time was right, your mindset was not. If your was mindset was right, the time was not. However you look at it, dwelling on the shoulda, coulda, woulda doesn’t change anything. Don’t allow a “no” to be your setback.

Trust that what is meant for you will come in due time. And when it does, you’ll be ready.

Many people brush off depression as if it’s something you can just “get over.”  While a physical injury or illness is treated with the utmost care and attention, it’s sad that something as detrimental as mental health is often overlooked.

Here’s the truth: Depression is an illness.

  • It doesn’t discriminate
  • It’s unpredictable
  • It’s real

Ranging from postpartum to chronic, depression is far beyond basic feelings of sadness. Emotions are temporary, and change frequently, depending on the circumstance and influence. The National Institute of Mental Health explains that depression does not work that way. Feeling sad and disinterested in life for long periods of time is a warning sign.

Hey, life happens. Trust me, I know. We go through some tough times: Death of a loved one, financial struggles, trauma, abuse, divorce, and more. Dealing with hardships and mourning are a part of life, but life goes on. Time heals, and many people are able to pull themselves together and get back on track.

For others, not so easy.

I was one of them.

A few years ago, I experienced a devastating season in my life where I could not seem to pull myself back together. Within the same month, about a week apart from one another , there were multiple deaths in my family, death of my friend’s parent, and death of an infant I cared for as a daycare teacher. I literally found myself attending funerals back-to-back that entire month, and the emotional strain was unbearable.

To add to the chaos, I received news early the following month that a close friend of mine was rushed to the ICU. He almost lost his life to undetected brain tumors and was preparing for brain surgery. I immediately began visiting him almost every evening after getting off of work, spending hours in the ICU. I realized I didn’t rest, or have the proper time to finish grieving. At my job, all I could think about was the infant. And at home, all I could think about was my family and friend. And even though I was grounded in my faith, going to church became a struggle. I didn’t want to hear the “I’m praying for you.” I was angry at God, angry at the world, and felt helpless that I couldn’t do anything.

Going to church became a struggle. I was too angry at God. . .

I’m being honest.

It’s like a switch in my brain turned off and everything shut down, like I was operating on autopilot. I felt numb, all day long. I soon began experiencing physical side effects: loss of appetite, inability to sleep, irritability with people, and broke out in hives. Everyone I encountered would mention that I was looking thinner, although I couldn’t tell. When I finally decided to get on a scale, I discovered that I dropped almost 20 pounds in less than a month. I stopped hanging out with friends. I stopped visiting my family. I quit my job. Everything just felt. . .broken.

So, how did I get out of it? I could lie and say that a few hugs and kindhearted people checking on my wellbeing played a part, but that never happened. No one knew I felt this way. It was something that I dealt with and didn’t speak on for over a year. . .OVER A YEAR.

No one wants to admit, or even believe that they’re depressed. It’s like admitting you’re weak or unable to take care of yourself. But trust when I say, depression will sneak up on you and consume your life.

Thankfully, a gut feeling (which I believe came from God) told me to seek therapy. I did, and it was the best decision I ever made. Was it an easy process? Absolutely not. It took joint effort, on both my part and my counselor’s, to reach a breakthrough: cognitive-behavior techniques, recounting childhood dilemmas, examining stress triggers, and more. After four months of sessions, one hour, once a week (and a few boxes of tissues), I started feeling like myself again.  Sometimes it takes a trained individual, outside of your family and friend circle, to really get through to you. Therapists understand how the mind functions and can strategically explain to you how and why you feel the way do.

See, the powerful thing about transparency is that it reminds us that we’re human and shows we’re all more alike than we think. No one wants to go through something alone. It’s always good to know that someone else has experienced what you’ve experienced and can relate. One thing’s for sure: self-denial is dangerous. We’ve all heard of far too many individuals, especially celebrities, who took another route to “alleviate” this intangible pain. Drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide are far too common in our society, even among the wealthy.

So, if you or someone you know is experiencing similar symptoms, I encourage you to seek help. There are people out there who love you and need you. It’s time to take back control of your life.

Jumanji wasn’t the same without you. Rest in Peace R.W. (1951-2014)

 

 

** Title image photo credit by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash.com

 

 

Who am I?

I could tell you I’m a successful, perfect woman who always had her life together. . .but if I did, it would be a lie.

To start, I was the type of person that camouflaged my feelings, living day to day wearing an artificial smile. Anxiety disorder, depression, and insecurities were running rampant in my life. I was prideful, thinking I could handle whatever life threw my way all on my own. Unfortunately, I had pushed myself into a deeper ball of confusion, frustration, and emptiness.

Then, I found Christ.

God revealed Himself to me while I was at rock bottom, that mental state where I literally have no other option but to surrender my pride and accept help. I believe that’s the beauty in humility.

Fast forward seven years, I accumulated an indescribable boldness in faith, moved to a Caribbean island (Puerto Rico to be exact), and became a freelance writer (my dream career). During my personal journey, I had the privilege of helping others overcome anxiety, insecurities, and encouraged purposeful living. I love how God uses me to motivate, inspire, and influence people in a positive light.

And thus, the birth of this blog.  I believe God places words of wisdom on my heart everyday to share with the world. Unlimited advice, poetry, stories, and knowledge that can enhance life skills and motivate anyone to become a better version of oneself.

Peace & love,

Ashley

We thought it was over.

In September 2017, Irma made her grand entrance into the Caribbeans as a threatening, Category 5 Hurricane. Speechless, the first thought that came to my mind was, “What do I do?”

That week prior, I sought answers for natural disaster protocol here on the island. I asked church members, friends, neighbors, and even the hippie guy that worked in the shop across the street.

“Ah, just grab a bottle of wine and wait it out.”

(Yes, that was his exact response.  And no, I didn’t take his advice.)

Everyone prepared as best they could: closed stores, boarded up windows, stocked up on water and canned foods, checked into hotels, and a few probably did grab some wine. It was hurricane season here in Puerto Rico, and the islanders were expectant. The severity of this particular hurricane was alarming, but from what I saw, no one expressed concern.

As for me, I moved to Puerto Rico alone and on my own. No family, no friends, and definitely no hurricane protocols. Luckily, a couple from my church invited me to stay with them during the storm, and I graciously took their offer.

Ah, just grab a bottle of wine and wait it out? I think not.

The following evening, me and a few other church members staying at the couples’ house shared bowls of popcorn as we sat in front of the television following the news updates:

Hurricane Irma has just touched ground in the British Virgin Islands…

St. Martin is now experiencing devastating winds and damage…

Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Puerto Rico in approximately 4 hours…

We charged our cell phones, played a few games to pass the time, and simply waited.

 

And by the grace of God, Irma missed us. I woke up that morning to drizzling rain and soft wind breezes. According to the news, the storm literally changed course at the last minute and missed Puerto Rico by less than 20 miles.

TALK ABOUT A MIRACLE.

We did, however, receive power outages throughout the island due to the strong winds that night before. So, for the next several days, majority of us on the island dealt extensive heat, eating canned and dry foods, and stopping by random stores or restaurants (which had generators and air-conditioning) to charge our electronics (I literally took turns sitting in Starbucks and CVS everyday, for hours). Thankfully, my electricity and water came back on after 10 days (sadly, many people across the island waited much longer.)

Just when things started to get back to normal, tragedy struck.

ANOTHER HURRICANE WAS COMING.

It was ridiculous. We just missed a category 5, and less than two weeks later, we were expected to be hit by a category 4. No one saw it coming. It was like it came out of nowhere.

Maria.

We complained and groaned, but again, we prepared. Due to our previous luck with Irma, I was optimistic that this time would happen the exact same way and miss us.

And I was wrong.

With winds at a violent 155 miles an hour, Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc, slamming right through the middle of Puerto Rico as a category 4. It had already hit Dominica, another Caribbean island, as a category 5, and after leaving us, continued its path north, right into the Turks and Cacaos Islands.

So, where was I during Maria? By the grace of God again, a friend reached out and offered me to stay with her and her family at their home. Thankfully, her house, and that entire neighborhood were on high ground, and were well-constructed for hurricane impact. We were without power, but safe.

The rest of the island….well…you probably heard or read about it.

  • Complete blackout. No power. . .ANYWHERE
  • No cell phone signal due to fallen/damaged towers
  • Majority without running water
  • Flights cancelled and plane tickets skyrocketed (about $800 for a one-way off the island. It’s normally less than $200)
  • Homes destroyed
  • Mass floods
  • Shipment imports (food & other necessities) closed
  • schools and many jobs closed
  • and a death toll of. . .

When I went back to my apartment two days after Hurricane Maria struck, this is what I came to:

hurricane maria damage to apartment in hall

Water and mold covered the floors, leftover storm rain dripping from my ceilings, and a semi-collapsed roof (as seen from the cover photo. My apartment was on the top floor of the building).

Thankfully, my friend offered me to stay at her house those next two weeks until I could book a flight to the U.S. Everyone, myself included, was on survival mode from that day forward.

  1. Lines for gasoline stations and grocery stores were at least 5 blocks long (I stood in line for bread and canned food for an estimated 3 hours one morning. And that was a “good” day.)
  2. People carpooled with neighbors (and even strangers) to preserve gas in their cars
  3. We used buckets of pool water to fill and flush the toilets
  4.  Dozens of people (who hadn’t heard from family or friends) stood on the sides of highways in order to get cellphone signal
  5. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as lunch and dinner for several nights
  6. the list goes on. . .

Thankfully, my job understood my situation (I worked online) and gave me those two weeks off (unfortunately as unpaid time off). For many of the other islanders, however, were left without work and a source of income for months.

I returned to the U.S. relieved, but extremely depressed. My apartment, my friends, my church members, and many citizens of Puerto Rico, didn’t have that option. For the remained of the year (October to December), I was pretty much unstable in terms of my living situation. I decided to stay in Florida with a friend, hoping to get back to PR that following month). But as progress reports came back negatively, I rented a couple of temporary spots and AirBnBs.

I was so thankful to also have met many new acquaintances and kindhearted people who understood my situation and offered a roof over my head for free (you all know who you are. God bless you all) and to have connected with an amazing church in Tampa that helped me keep stay encouraged and maintain trust in God during the process.

The people of Puerto Rico have been truly been so strong and perseverant through the aftermath, having gone over 3 months without electricity and other vital necessities. Shoutout to amazing music artists such as Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Ricky Martin, and Jennifer Lopez (to name a few) for using their voices and finances for the Puerto Rico Se Levanta Campaign, helping bring awareness to the situation and need for help on the island (and those affected by the hurricanes).

As for me, I returned to Puerto Rico in January 2018. With all thanks to God, I was able to find and rent new apartment in an area that fortunately regained electricity, and continued my online job. These recent events have not only made me more appreciative of my life, but also encouraged me to begin volunteering with hurricane/disaster relief teams, as well as with my church, to help restore, rebuild, and reassure the people of PR that we’re here for them. The beauty of the island is still here, even post-hurricane. Soon, the world will see it too.

walking through old san juan, pr