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Meet Ashley: Instructional Designer and Mental Health Advocate

Ashley is one of my friends from college and I am so excited to share her story today!!! She forgot to mention in her feature that she got her Master’s at HARVARD and she is as genuine, kind and humble as they come. And just beautiful inside and out.

When I reached out to Ashley she told me that she would like to focus on mental health in her feature more than just her career and story. I was so touched by her transparency and openness. This is something that I and SO many working women are constantly battling, and I am so grateful she was willing to be vulnerable to help others.

She asked me to share these two resources, the “Better than Happy” with Jody Moore podcast and the international OCD foundation’s website that can help people find an OCD specialist in their area.

Tell us a little about yourself and your career

I started out in broadcast journalism, which is where I learned about concise writing, insane deadlines, and all things video production. I left that field for grad school to focus on how to use my storytelling and video production skills to create educational content. That led me to instructional design, which is the field I work in now. I love it. I create learning experiences (from educational video games to online courses and everything in between) that help people learn things in a way that is memorable, engaging, and effective. My job is to make things make sense.

How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?

I won’t lie—it’s sometimes been difficult for me to relate to, feel empowered by, or feel comfortable around women in the workforce. All-female meetings have left me with sweaty palms and middle-school flashbacks of not fitting in, endlessly dissecting a minefield of comments, gestures, and looks. With that being said, there are also many amazing women who have helped me tremendously in my career. These women are strong, confident in their own careers, don’t give off any vibes of competition or judgment, and are quick to offer book recommendations, career advice, and kind words. These are the women I strive to emulate.

You’re an advocate for understanding how your mental health affects your work/life balance. What do women need to understand about this important aspect of our careers?

When I was a child, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It’s a chronic anxiety disorder that can wreak serious havoc in your life if you don’t recognize and treat it. When you’re in the midst of an all-out battle with your brain, it feels almost impossible to focus on anything other than hurling spears at your inner demons, let alone lead a productive life at work or at home. Once I found a specialist a few years ago and really faced it head on, I was able to completely transform my life and my mind.

I’ve learned that in order to show up in my life the way I want and need to, I have to practice mental hygiene. My biggest lesson learned is that you can literally re-wire your brain—and what an amazingly empowering realization that is! You don’t have to be stuck living or being a certain way. You can train your brain to do and see things differently. I’m convinced that our minds construct 99% of our reality, and that we don’t have to be prisoners of that reality; we can be creators of it.

Over the past several years, I’ve worked to develop a tool belt of skills that help me live with my OCD without being controlled by it. These same skills have helped me to learn how to better manage my emotions and live a purposeful life. It’s helped me to show up at work as an engaged, positive, present, happy, and focused employee. And really, that’s how I want to show up in all aspects of my life. Don’t let yourself or your perceived reality hold you back. Get the skills you need to see beyond the limits your brain currently has set for you.

What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?

I would tell her that she’s killing it and to keep doing her thing! I would tell her that I’m proud of her, and that she should always speak her truth and be bold.

What is your career-related mantra?

Whatever you are, be kind, be smart, and be brave.

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