Honesty Doesn't Mean You're Mean. by Ashley Cole

I once heard someone call me a bitch… not in a cute ‘we’re friends and that’s okay’ way but in a way that sounded more like ‘nails dragging on a chalkboard that stab at your eardrums until they’re raw’ kind of way. Once it was said, the word hung around inside my head constantly making me feel as though I needed to own it. I wanted my entire world to think I was a bitch. I wanted my snark to override my anxiety, to envelop me and make me cooler than I was or ever have been. At least, that’s what I thought I wanted.

I cloaked myself in bitchiness, calling it ‘brutal honesty’. What I didn’t know was that brutal honesty does not equate to being a complete bitch. I spent a lot of time priding myself on being my version of honest- telling people what I disliked about them or what they’d done- with rapid fire execution. I didn’t care if it hurt their feelings, better they know what was wrong with them than live life thinking they had it right. What I didn’t understand was that I was just being mean. It wasn’t funny even though people would laugh. It was painful.

So, this is how I realized that I was actually a bitch and how I plan to get my shit together enough to be honest with myself about who I was and how I plan to change that.

Rewind to September 2016, long before I had any thought to the fact that I might be the shitty person in the room versus all of the people I felt were being awful towards me. I put in my two weeks notice after not receiving a promotion at my job; a job where I’d received a promotion only a mere 6 months previously but I felt as though I was going nowhere fast. I know, insert your eye roll and something about millennial privilege here because you’re exactly right. Instead of realizing I was being a brat, I got angry at a co-worker (and friend) who got the promotion. I said to everyone else exactly how I was feeling about it, calling the co-worker things that she really wasn’t and discrediting her work that she had been doing for years. This isn’t the beginning of my bitchiness cloaked in honesty, but it definitely was the beginning to an end.

I complained to everyone. I whined about how everything she wasn’t doing every chance I could blatantly disregarding everything she was doing. I bitched about it to the point that I know I lost a few people’s respect. It bubbled in me like soured milk. And the fact that I was so nasty still does. I wish I could tell you there’s a good resolution to this, but there isn’t. I was so consumed by it that once I left the job I turned my sights to a new manager that truthfully, turned out to not a super great manager, but instead of saying why he wasn’t a good person and giving concrete examples I just complained about him and called him a ‘used car salesman’. I focused more on his appearance and personal issues than I did on what actually caused me strife with him. While I wasn’t wrong that he wasn’t a good person or manager, I was wrong in the way I addressed it. Again, I’d cloaked bitchiness in my own version of honesty.

Once I was removed from the position, I found myself trying to connect with the friends I’d made whilst there. I longed to have the closeness with the individuals I thought I’d be friends with for a long time. What I’ve learned is that there are threads that tie people together; some of those threads are stronger than others, some have more and some have less. A lot of the relationships I had during my time at that job were due to being at the same place at the same time and experiencing the same things. Those quickly showed themselves and we were no longer speaking. What surprised me were the relationships that had a larger quantity and stronger threads that were severed. These weren’t because we were no longer sharing experiences, these were deliberate.

And they were my fault.

I have spent so long feeling sorry for myself because I had ‘no friends’ that I finally had to realize the problem was me. It was because I wasn’t a good person after all. I’m not writing this to gain any sympathy for the person I was, but because I need to say I’m sorry to people that I don’t even know how to reach to say I’m sorry to. I said and did a lot of terrible things, I wasn’t a good friend. I feigned interest in order to just be cruel. I talked about how I disliked catty dishonest people, without even realizing that I was the worst of them all. I was mean.

It’s no one’s fault but my own and I blame no one for dropping my friendship. I hurt you so much by letting you down and genuinely being a garbage person. As I’m raising another human, I’ve been re-evaluating who I am. I’m re-learning the fundamentals of being ‘good’. I read him stories of people that are curious, intelligent, genuine. I tell him to be good, kind, smart. These are only words, what I need to do is show him how to be these things. I need to be accountable for my misdoings and say I’m sorry to those I’ve hurt. I needed to learn that being honest doesn’t mean you’re mean. It doesn’t mean you say whatever you think and that if it hurts someone it’s their problem. It means telling your truth but also not deliberately hurting someone because their truth may not be what yours is.

I’m sorry I was a bully. I’m sorry I was a bitch. If I slip up and occasionally still become that person please tell me I’m being unkind. Tell me I’m being a garbage person. I need your help to be accountable and to maintain a better path of being a human that is genuine. I don’t expect this to solve the issues in our friendships. I don’t expect you to forgive me, I needed to acknowledge what I’d done and make an effort.

Passage of Time. by Ashley Cole

Wow, May was the last time I updated my site. This is both disheartening but also liberating. As many of you may have noticed, I've closed down the 'shop' portion of the site. This is primarily due to a lack of focus and time needed to manage the shop. I'm still taking on commissions, but maintaining a stocked shop became somewhat of a challenge for me. (Plus, every piece is different which is what I love about what I do.)

On to that topic: loving what you do. I recently had drinks with a friend of mine where we sat discussing our lives and he said something that really struck a chord with me. He told me to take on one project, to just do it and get inspired again. I started drowning in the things that were being asked of me, both in my professional life and my personal life. I felt as though I no longer loved doing any of it, and that my inspiration had run dry. I work in an environment where I see people creating every minute of every day. I see the dreams and desires of everyone around me, and somehow, that stifled me. I started to feel as though my projects were insignificant and that they were never big enough or important enough. What my friend made me realize is that they are important and the people around me are the reason why they're important.

I don't think he realized it at the time, but his tiny nudge left me thinking about the importance of believing in yourself. It left me up all night thinking of ways to create something that maybe doesn't make someone else happy, but makes me happy. When I started creating for everyone else, I lost the ability to just create things for myself on a whim. At the same time, he was discussing how he felt pulled in different directions but never satisfied. That his dreams were too lofty and unattainable. This not only broke my heart but also left me feeling as though I needed to share how I felt on the topic, from an outside perspective.

What I want to tell you is this: you have an ability to create anything you want. Be that an environment full of nurturing individuals that will support you and lend a hand when you need it, a machine that does things that I can't even fathom, going back to school to further yourself and be the person you ache to be, running your own business, or hell even just existing in a manner that makes you proud every night when you go to bed. You create yourself, and you can create anything. 

I've heard a few people discussing how they want to do things, how they ache to do these things but that they'll 'never be able to'. This not only breaks my heart because it's a sign they don't believe in themselves but also because these people are some of the brightest, smartest, most incredible people I've ever known. I look up to these people. They're the people I want to surround myself with when I'm feeling uninspired because I see them working so hard day in and day out. It's hard because these people are my tribe. 

So this is my open letter to you, my tribe. 

You call me sassy and put me in my place when I deserve it, and you rally behind me when I feel like I've fallen off track. You tell me to put one foot in front of the other. You tell me that I'm still breathing. It's my turn, my turn to tell you how incredible you are. That you're a sum of all that is around you and all of the work you've put forth to this moment. You are not less because some misfortunes may have happened, the results of trials are not your worth. Your worth is in your wide eyes, your eager minds, and your unconditional hearts. Your worth is in the passion you show for those around you but also for the things that you do. Your worth is in the small snippets of conversations where you're discussing this exciting new thing you're doing and the smiles that creep to a resting place on your face.

I've watched some of you in your most frustrating moments, when you storm out of the shop and all I hear are fragmented sentences peppered with profanity or when you genuinely can't figure something out. What inspires me most is that the next day you're in here, right back at the start working on the problem. You don't give up. Not on people, not on work. You may break your part, butcher your project (or even break your arm). But you're still here the next day. You're the reason I'm here, the most important and exciting part of my day. Your energy feeds my soul, and gives me a belief that there are people out there doing things, not just talking about it but actually creating.

I'm humbled to be in your company and genuinely proud to call you all my friends. I've never felt so connected or accepted to a group of people the way I do to you. So thank you for making me who I am, for helping shape me and for allowing me to be a part of your journey. Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds. I have no doubt that you're all going to do incredible things. 

Love,

A.

Recent Projects by Ashley Cole

It's been a while since I've updated, but I have worked on some pretty cool projects recently. Including my first store remodel (the first phase anyway!) Here's a peek into my life.


A Day with BoXZY (and me!) [VIDEO] by Ashley Cole

Welp, here's the video I was in for Boxzy! Enjoy!

I could knit pick how terrible I feel that I look in this, but truth be told- I don't even care! The dudes have done an amazing job and are kickin' butt! If you haven't supported them, don't miss your chance. There's only 9 days left in their Kickstarter campaign!

Coffee Table for Justin by Ashley Cole

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. I started a new job at TechShop here in Pittsburgh and also had a few great opportunities presented to me that are going to be started soon. One of those projects is a coffee table and two wall panels for my friend Justin. He was moving into a super modern and industrial space in Charleston, South Carolina and wanted something that would add character to the space without removing the modern feel. 

We started the process designing up options and discussing coloring and styling. The legs were the tricky part, they didn't actually arrive until 10 days later than scheduled but they were oh so worth it. Once I got started, the process moved along quickly and the table came together. This was the first time I used cleats rather than metal attachments for the legs and I must say that they are nicer and appear to be much more stable than any other option I've found. 

So, here it is:

 

 

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I'm going to try to get some new product in the shop soon, but with everything going on I'm unsure as to when that'll be! If you're interested in something feel free to email me.

Stay tuned for some great projects in the works. I'm not able to say much about it right now but once we get started, you'll get glimpses through my Instagram