Martin Luther King once said “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.” Which is true, all of us can be great by giving back and being the best version of ourselves.
Ashley McDonough is one of many examples of this as a Howard University grad, producer, journalist, media professional, and modern-day renaissance woman. She has utilized all of her talents to inform, celebrate and entertain. Taji Mag was able to talk to her about self-love in the many aspects of life.
Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What is self-love to you and how can people better practice it?
Ashley McDonough (AM): Self-love is an appreciation of yourself, you have to know who you are and what you deserve. Self-love is appreciating the promise you made to yourself. Living your life accordingly to the promise that you made.
DDF: How do you practice self-love?
AM: It is a day-to-day basis of being kind to yourself. I, myself, am a very busy person and I have a lot on my plate. I can be hard on myself with completing things in a timely manner. To me, it’s truly about being patient with yourself. Just take time out to talk to yourself in a positive, uplifting way.
Relationships & Self Love
“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.”- Nina Simone
DDF: You have some great articles about dating. Advocates say you should love yourself first before entering a relationship but when do you know you are ready?
AM: It’s just a matter of self-healing. When you are healed enough and your mental health is in order, then I think that is the right time to date. A lot of times I think that relationships don’t work because everyone’s walking around with these traumas and insecurities that they haven’t healed from.
Once you have healed fully, know what you want out of a partner and you know what you deserve out of that partner and know what you are willing to give that partner in return, I think it’s a healthy ground to go out there and see what the dating world has to offer you.
DDF: Let’s say you are in a relationship, how do you maintain that self-love?
AM: I’ve definitely been in that situation before. You can really get caught up in the idea of love but you have to understand that you can’t love someone if don’t love yourself.
Understanding that you deserve a certain type of love, your partner should understand and be respectful of that. Also, you have to understand what you want out of life, its a beautiful gift from God. You are whole by yourself, I don’t believe in that whole “you complete me” thing. I really think you need to be complete before you get into relationships.
DDF: Can situation-ships be included in self-love?
AM: If that works for you then ok. I think every person is different, I’m not going to say that this is the ideal relationship because sometimes that freedom is a form of self-love. It depends on the person, some people are looking for long term commitment and other people just want to have fun, be free, have options. Society can put these ideas/beliefs on people and that can cause relationships not to work a lot of times.
Work to Live, Not Live to Work
“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.” – Janelle Monae
DDF: You have an article about the importance of setting boundaries, how important is that to self-love?
AM: You can get caught up in everyday life sometimes and you need to set boundaries in order to keep your sanity. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, sometimes we treat ourselves like superheroes… we are not. Setting boundaries in every aspect of your life is important for your sanity and overall mental health.
DDF: Pursuing your passion or desired career is also a version of self-love, agreed? Why do so many struggle with it and what did you do to keep moving forward?
AM Definitely because it’s safe. It’s scary to follow your dreams. It’s not something for everyone. Everyone can’t do it and everyone is not in that space to do it. You have to have a strong sense of faith, you have to believe in yourself.
I was born and raised in New York but I took a leap of faith and moved to L.A. because I felt it in my heart to do it. You really have to believe in yourself, work hard and know that God is going to take care of you.
Articles of Self Love and Media
“You are your best thing.” – Toni Morrison
DDF: You have written some great pieces about people embracing the beauty in themselves, what inspires you to write pieces like these?
AM: What inspires my writing? Well, even before I went to college, I knew I wanted to produce and create content that I thought the world needed to hear. I really like doing the backstories of the people that are seen as the overnight successes because I feel like those stories are important and need to be heard by everyone.
Social media has changed the mind state of success and the hustle and the grind. To hear those stories change perspectives.
DDF: Out of the articles you have written, which is your favorite?
AM: One of my favorite stories was about Jessie Woo, she is a comedian and singer. She’s amazing! Her story is so inspiring because of her journey to success. Everyone on social media was seeing her as an overnight success but in reality, it took her some time to get in her position.
She told the story about her start in New York, becoming unemployed within the first two months and not having enough funds to buy a plane ticket home but through it all she made it. Jessie’s story encourages people to follow their own dreams, whatever path may be for them.
DDF: How much of an influence do you think the media has on self-love?
Ashley in her Howard grad cap and gown.
AM: Howard gives you a sense of self, I don’t think many of the students have. It’s the overall experience because you are surrounded by such Black excellence and you are being taught by the most amazing professors with extensive careers.
They are teaching you to love yourself and appreciate your history. A lot this stuff you don’t get see growing up. I grew up in Queens, NY so I grew up in a very diverse area and went to public school my whole life, we learned the basics of Black history.
That changed when I went to Howard University because we learned everything, the good and the bad. The experience taught me how amazing my people are!
See more from Ashley via her website!