Things I’ve Accomplished In My Twenties (so far)

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To speak like an elementary school kid, I am 24 and a half. It’s easy to look back on this decade in my life and feel like I’ve gotten literally NOTHING done. I’m “between” jobs, I’m single, don’t have my own apartment, and I don’t drive. It’s easy to feel like I’m not getting anything I want done, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything in the last four and half years, right? Of course not! Here are ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far):

I Graduated From College: This is probably the first big thing that comes to mind. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English just a few days before my 22nd birthday. I completed it in four years, which not everyone does, so I guess that’s pretty awesome?? I graduated with honors, cum laude, and all that fancy stuff. And I made friends I still chat with today!

I Made Friends: Ya know, I spent a huge, and I mean huge chunk of my life believing that I was bad at making friends. Starting in elementary school I had bullies, in fifth grade I moved to a different school district (you know what THAT does for a kid’s social life), and it wasn’t until middle school that I started having “best friends.” In high school I had a few best friends, and then in college I had even more.

I have one or two friends I’ve kept in touch with from high school. And about four or five I still keep in touch with from college, so you can see how things improved! And it only took like a quarter of a century! Seriously, I hadn’t thought about making friends as an accomplishment until this moment, but it is one, isn’t it? You’re lucky if you can find good, kind friends. But it’s also something that requires effort and good habits to keep in touch.

I Embraced My Sexuality: This is a multi-faceted, complex one, the main part being that I embraced being bi/pansexual with a preference for women. I still have some anxiety here and there, but ultimately I feel really good about who I am, and I couldn’t be prouder to be queer. Learning and connecting more with the LGBTQ community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

But there’s more to sexuality than my orientation, so it’s kind of like I’m working on phase two of my sexuality confidence. For me, this means learning to feel more comfortable in my body, and feeling sexy, beautiful and confident by own standards, not by society’s. It means conforming sometimes to my culture’s standard of beauty for women (i.e- shaving my legs), while also needing to love my body for everything it is in its natural state.

This is a big thing to work on, and honestly, it’s a no wonder it feels so daunting. The U.S has to be one of the most sex negative countries in the world. Especially if you’re a women, it can be hard to unlearn all of the toxic things we internalize. Like needing to be “pure,” waiting until marriage, slut shaming, etc.

Sooo this is a work in progress for me. Maybe I need to watch more French films. The French are cool with sex, right?

I Wrote Things: One thing I’ve definitely focused on since I graduated from college is writing. I self published six poetry books and a book of short stories, and gave a book to one of my favorite bands. I wrote articles for a magazine in Manhattan, did freelance work for a marketing agency (short-lived and under paid, but it still happened!), I started (and maintained) this blog, submitted poems, articles, and stories while facing rejection, persevering with my work like a BOSS, and I worked on bunch of other projects that only my eyes have seen.

I’ve also seen how my words have been able to move, comfort, and inspire people, whether it’s in my poetry books, or something I post on the internet. It’s confirmed that words have power, and that this is one of my gifts in this life. I’ve learned that it’s hard, I mean really hard to make money as a writer, but I’ve also learned how satisfying it is for me to take a DIY approach to this craft, and other artsy things as well. It’s a huge part of my life, and it’s one of the best things to come out of my twenties.

I Went To Vegas: It was rad. First time on the West Coast ❤

I Voted For A Woman For President: Okay, we all know how this one turned out. But still, I got to vote for a woman! How cool is that?!

I Applied To Grad School: Applying to grad school is something I considered doing for a long time. I thought about applying for something related to my current degree, like English or creative writing, but it didn’t create more job opportunities like I wanted, and needed. Eventually I decided to apply for a master’s degree in social work, and if I get accepted, I’ll be starting school next fall. Fingers crossed!

I Went To Concerts: I’ve gotten to see a few awesome artists in concert. Demi Lovato (got a photo with her, too! Thanks to my cousin), Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, Kesha, DNCE, Kristen Chenoweth, Christina Perri, Kiesza, and Little Mix. Here’s to many more!

I Learned How To Navigate The NYC Subway: For reasons I can’t explain, I had this weird thing where I associated being an adult with being able to navigate the NYC subway system. I guess I felt like, if I can learn my way around Manhattan, I can learn my way around anywhere. Hit me up if you need directions to the Financial District.

I Celebrated Samhain: I didn’t do much, just made some art and had my own little dinner. I’ve been learning more about witchcraft, paganism, and other forms of spirituality. I’ve been meditating with crystals, and following different thought leaders like Mastin Kipp, Gabby Bernstein, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and the Dalai Lama.

This is a super important path for me, because I’m pursuing my spirituality on my own terms without worrying about anyone else’s dogma or approval. I’m finding my own path, and I’d say that’s important for any twenty-something.

So there it is, ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far). I’m four and half years into this decade, and I truly hope more good things are to come. I may not have everything I want, but I’m on my own journey and moving forward at my own pace. Your accomplishments are treasures. I hope you collect many on your own travels.

-Ashley

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My book of short stories is available on Amazon and Kindle

My book of short stories is available now on Amazon. The genre is magical realism, so each story has just a touch of the impossible ❤

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1547077476/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505566435&sr=1-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=Ashley+Tiara+Lilly&dpPl=1&dpID=416bPvONsQL&ref=plSrch

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Gender Equality and Inclusion

Feminism has always been a complex movement. When women first fought for the right to vote in the UK and the U.S., it was noble, but it wasn’t all inclusive. This right to vote was intended for a specific demographic, namely white women. It didn’t include women of color, or any person of color for that matter. That’s not to say that what these women did wasn’t admirable, because even as a woman of color, I look up to the suffragettes. I don’t think people necessarily mean to forget about marginalized populations, but it happens none the less, even in the 21rst century.

Even in our culture that is probably more accepting than it has ever been, our feminism tends to lack inclusion. We can’t have a feminism that only pays attention to the needs of white, cisgender women. Women of color, trans women, gender nonconforming individuals, people who are differently abled, people with learning differences, and LGBTQ women face challenges that are unique to them. But when marginalized groups are not actively represented in feminist movements, their challenges and needs are not being addressed. They are not being given a voice for the discrimination they face.

I think that we have the potential to undergo an amazing cultural shift. Inclusion and acceptance of people of all genders, giving everyone the opportunities they need to be safe and productive in society, this can only lead to a more open-minded and compassionate world. Compassion seems like a simple concept, but our society makes it complicated. This virtue needs to be at the heart of what we do. Words matter. Ideas matter. The way we treat each other matters. Striving for a gender equality that is inclusive, while acknowledging the needs of specific demographics, can be one of the most important things our society does as a whole.

I Believe

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Source: Pixabay.com

 

I believe women should have access to all their healthcare needs

I believe that love is love is love is love is love

I believe we need to make room at the table for people of all genders

I believe equality is not a pipe dream, but a necessity

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We are stronger when we stand together

We have clarity when we work toward what we want

There is goodness and kindness and light inside each of us

I believe that those who believe they can make the world better, will.