I know how people perceive me. I know because I ask and I know because people have told me. For better or worse, from positive and negative perspectives.

Negative: I’m a bossy, shallow, cold, control-freak.

I’m a leader. I am very friendly with a lot of acquaintances, but I’m not easy to get close to because I’m not looking to make many friends. I believe I know the best way to do things because I’m right pretty often – “if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.”

Positive: A positive, strong, smart, save-the-day, leader.

PFresh. As much as I complain about it, I get so much of my confidence and identity from it. I’m not the perfect president, but I’m also getting pretty good at being a leader who admits that I screw up, too. I admit when I’m wrong.

How do I see myself? Oh jeez. That’s too complex.

People never see me cry. They don’t see me get emotional. I’m a machine. “Ashley, I don’t know how you handle all the things you do!” I don’t talk about politics – I’m careful not to publicize any opinion that any of my people wouldn’t agree with. Actually, I’m pretty big on not making any strong claims at all, in order to avoid any and all unnecessary conflict.

This can make me seem shallow and cold.

I have very few friends because I don’t trust people, because most people aren’t trustworthy. I can’t trust them with my true identity, the complexities of who I am. Colleen, Taryn, and Emmy (we always say that we can’t get rid of each other because we’re family (sadly, we could, but, happily, we continue to respect our claim)). That’s all. That’s it.

This is what makes me realize that I’m an introvert. Only my very, very small circle of friends knows who I really am. I have a very, very wide comfort zone where I can talk to pretty much anyone, but I’m heavily filtered and my small talk is a little awkward and too peppy.

Outside of my small circle, I think I come off as a pretty awesome person in PFresh. I have led quite a few group projects – I think I come off as a good leader there, too. In my required Strategic Management class, I ran a group project and I got a 5% bump because my group identified me as a good leader worthy of a bump on our peer reviews. J In my Philosophy of Science class, I ran a pretty freakin’ awesome group projects and made two really cool friends. I also think I’ve had some really interesting and strong intellectual ideas in that class, and I know the professor appreciated it. In my accounting classes, I’m the goofy, chatty, kinda dumb one. (I have never, ever, ever, been the dumb one. But I’m just not great at everything. Just not. And that’s ok.)

I’ve been trying to give you a chance to know how other people saw me, but it feels so illegitimate because I’m a biased narrator. I just want you to know that to anyone else, I don’t cry. I’m a leader. I’m a moderately liberal, white, female millennial. I’m no mom. I’m not nurturing. I’m logical. I respect all people. I have no problem with how other people live their lives unless they’re hurting themselves or others. That’s the line I use to avoid talking about any and all social issues.

A quote from Hamilton, the hit musical: “Talk less, smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for … If you want to get ahead. Fools who run their mouths, oft’ wind up dead.” That’s me. I’m a leader, but I’m no activist. I always play it safe. That was Aaron Burr. Then Hamilton says, “If you stand for nothin’, Burr, what will you fall for?”

You don’t understand how little I voice my opinion because you’re reading the inside of my mind. I guess there’s no way for you to know how I am. Also, I tend to oversimplify. People tell me I tend not to give myself enough credit. I should just give up trying to get you to understand how I’m viewed when I guess I don’t even really know, myself.

I fall for my individuality. I fall for the neutral perspective – because I’m willing to bet that extremists are uninformed. I’m very skeptical of extremists. I hate when people are on side A and hate side B just to hate an opponent. Both A and B have motivations for their perspective – so both motivations should be validated and understood to understand the conversational atmosphere. I hate when extremists say the other side is “stupid” and has no interesting in understanding their opponent. People know that I admit when I’m wrong, and I always look at both sides. Well, people probably don’t notice that much. But I do.

I’m fiercely independent and I don’t fall to peer pressure easily. I didn’t drink before I turned 21 (except when Tyler rudely tricked me into drinking a little Vodka senior year – I was absolutely furious (even my friends told him how horrible it was for him to do that – everyone knew how important it was to me that I don’t drink underage)), afterward I still drink very little, I don’t swear (except “damn” sometimes), and I don’t like hookup culture and really, really don’t like casual sex.

I fall for conservative values. It’s important to my family and my identity.

I’m willing to fall for my family. I like to think I’ll be the mom who will fall for her family.

I also deeply care about the environment, but am seriously saddened by society’s handling of the environmental crisis. I also care deeply about TV. I want to be a Professor. Did I mention that yet? My dream within reach. Would I fall for those things? Does that even make sense?

I guess I haven’t figured it out. That would make sense. I’m only 21. I got some time to figure it out. You can make a difference outside of picketing and protesting, right?

(Not so fun fact: I shiver/chatter when I’m nervous or upset. Did I say that already? Well, if I didn’t, you’re now one of the few people on the planet who know.)

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