How I lost my happiness (again) without even realizing it.

I woke up this morning suddenly. The kind of waking up where your eyes literally pop open, staring at the ceiling trying to focus on the little nooks and crevices in the texture above you. I thought about the night before…texting this guy I’ve been seeing for a few months, trying to figure out at 1:30am if he “felt like coming over”. (Insert annoyed emoji face here) As I recalled my conversation from a few hours prior, I tried to shake the feeling of embarrassment I felt after exposing my neediness for company (and then being rejected, mind you), and after realizing how strangely awake I was with only 5 hours of sleep, I decided I needed to go for a run. That always clears my head.

I’d heard from several people about these “nature trails” here in Oak Cliff. Something to note for those of you that aren’t familiar with my neighborhood, it’s…eccentric. Oak Cliff is the kind of community where it’s common to see “OC” or “75208” tattooed on someone’s neck/fingers/other random body part. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s charms like the Bishop Arts District and Trinity Groves, but overall it’s pretty colorful. All of that to say, I was slightly nervous about going on a several mile hike/run in the woods as dawn was breaking. But hey, YOLO, right? (haha… I hope you laughed as you read that last sentence, because I sure did as I was typing it.)

Seriously though, this adventure was SO incredibly worth it. Words cannot express how clarifying, inspiring, and cathartic it was. I only did about 3 miles, but it was a total body workout maneuvering the trails, climbing over fallen trees, and splashing through creeks. I was disgusting by the time I was done, and it. was. glorious. These pictures don’t even begin to do it justice because 1) I’m a terrible photographer, and 2) I couldn’t focus too much on photo quality so I could avoid getting clipped by mountain bikers.

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I realized several things about running in this new environment:

  1. Running without music – this was a new one for me. Usually I will NOT go without a form of entertainment while I torture myself with exercise. Ed Sheeran, New Politics, and Red Hot Chili Peppers are pretty much all that can get me through a 4-5 mile run on a usual week day. But today I decided to go without music most of the run because it’s easier to hear upcoming bikers as they whiz by you on these tiny trails. I didn’t even realize the sounds of nature I would have missed had I been distracted by my Spotify the entire run. Creeks gurgling, birds chirping in the trees, even just the sound of the rocks beneath my shoes had me feeling all fuzzy. I really felt at peace out there. Crazy words coming from being in the middle of Oak Cliff!
  2. Coordination is not my strong suit – I seriously almost ate dirt (literally) at least 12 times. I should have had someone film me, it was probably extremely entertaining watching me hop over rocks, jump tree branches, slide down crumbling trails so I didn’t bust my face open…I’m hoping these trails will help me learn coordination and muscle control, but I’m sure they will also get a little of my blood, sweat, and tears in the process.
  3. I’ve been avoiding a LOT – Almost halfway into my run I realized how light and at ease I felt about life. All of my anxiety had melted away and I wanted to just laugh and keep hiking on those trails all morning. At the start of my run, I had a lot of thoughts to sort out, and as I ran, the peacefulness of my surroundings allowed me to think through things without all of society’s constant pressures weighing down on me.

I now realize that I am a serial “changer”, as I like to call it. I will change myself, my interests, my habits, etc. all based on the person I’m dating. I won’t really stop liking the things I currently enjoy, but I’ll just put those on the back burner and emphasize whatever fits in with the current person I’m talking to.

“Oh, you enjoy tacos and Chipotle is your favorite restaurant? Me too!”

LIE. I hate Chipotle. I don’t enjoy Mexican food. But if you do, suddenly I’m open to the idea…

“You could watch only Will Ferrell movies for the rest of your life and never be sad again? That sounds like a great idea…let’s binge watch some next weekend!”

LIE. I’ve only seen like 2 Will Ferrell movies…I know, I’m weird. I’m not against them, per say, I just don’t actively seek out trying to watch them…?

“You can’t stand Taylor Swift? Ugh, me either, what a lame talent-less copy cat.”

Again, LIE. I literally have her newest album in my car CD player now. Don’t judge me, the girl knows how to write good lyrics.

I do all of this to be liked and accepted, and it usually works out well for a while. Then, as I realized this morning, I find myself having compromised all of my joy and excitement in life from doing what I truly enjoy…all in hopes for some attention and favor.

You like to lay in bed all morning on the weekends and not get anything done? Suddenly I do too! You enjoy staying up late because you don’t have to be at work at 8am like I do? No problem, I’ll stay up with you! You can’t workout for ______ reason? No worries, I don’t have to run today.

Who am I and what did I do with the girl who was Ashley? The real, happy, genuine, motivated, positive Ashley? I mean, it’s not like I became some completely different person…I was still me, but I just didn’t feel like quite the best version on myself.

Now, I realize that another person you’re dating should make you want to be that better version of you. They should enjoy what you enjoy, push you to work harder, go farther, laugh louder. I don’t want to keep being this way, I want to be me, the real me, with the guy I’m dating.

So here’s to authenticity. Being vulnerable in who you are. Loving yourself and being happy no matter what. And to not giving a shit if they don’t like it. 😉