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Growth Requires Muscle Tears

In: Finding Your Voice

Yesterday I talked about change—and it’s no coincidence.

I’m making some big changes myself, given that a lot of things are coming to an end, right now.

Because iteration is what we’re all doing, every single day, even if it blows by us going 100mph down the freeway. (In a red Ferrari, smoking a cigar, with a license plate that reads: TOOFAST4U.)

We iterate as we breathe; we iterate every time we exercise; we iterate every time we learn something new. And, we iterate by both necessity and choice.

In other words, we are ALWAYS transforming.

One of the things that I’ve been iterating, myself, is the way I show up in my writing—and, in particular, the way I show up on this blog.

I started The Middle Finger Project nearly ten years ago now (WHAT????) and I’ve been writing every single week since. (Nice to meet you, stamina! If only you could show up whenever I take a motherloving jog.) If you were subscribed in, say, 2009, you read the words of a different person than the ones you read today.* (Thin bitch, she was.)

But iteration is not only natural; it’s necessary. Growth requires muscle tears. And that’s how I like to think of every little change made along the way. Change doesn’t mean we did something wrong (and therefore need to change it); it means we’re doing something right (and therefore need to continue to adapt).

And one of the things I’ve humbly done right in this world is this blog. As I’ve been writing a book behind the scenes for the past couple of years, one of the things that became abundantly clear is that The Middle Finger Project has been, over the years, one of the most valuable mentors I’ve ever had—and an interesting replacement for parents, to say the least. If you’ve been a member of this crew for a while, then you know a little bit about my backstory; you know I was orphaned young, and didn’t have a lot to count on, as a girl. And while it seems funny to think about, in many ways, this blog—and my larger journey in creative entrepreneurship—stepped in to not only BE the thing I could count on, but to help teach me many of the lessons that I still needed to learn. And in many ways, it’s acted as a critical guiding structure for me—an iceberg of stability on which I could always find my balance.(Only in an Ash Ambirge metaphor do you find balance on a sheet of ice.)

I owe this blog a lot. And I owe you a lot, too.

Because you don’t just read my column; you ARE the column. Over the years this column has been as much yours as it has been, mine. You’ve opened each email, you’ve made this a part of your life, you’ve written to me about who you are and what you dream about, you’ve taken the time to have a conversation with me, even if it only happened inside your head. And every thing I’ve ever written, I’ve written for you. For all of us. To have conversations with people I may never meet, but have become, in every way, the people I cherish most. Because you aren’t just readers—or clients, or customers, or fans. You have been so much more than that to me.

You have been my family.

You are my family.

And even though I’m just a girl writing to you through a screen, I promise you this: I know who you are. I see you, the same way you’ve seen me. I study your name and look up your website; I read your blog posts, and I scroll your Twitter stream. I know you, even though we may have never spoken. This is not a one-way conversation—even though sometimes it might seem like it. It has never been. I am always listening.

The last three years admittedly had me at more of an arm’s length than I would have liked, fighting a fight that I promised you I would, three years ago—which, I am pleased to say, has finally come to a close. For the past three years, however, while I was always here, listening, I wasn’t able to give the way I had always given.

Which is why, over the course of the next 30 days, you’re about to witness a big, flashy transformation, ‘round these parts. I am back with a vengeance—and The Middle Finger Project is about to be shoved into a seat at a vanity table, and given a whole new makeover…both externally, and internally. This coming May, I am so very proud to say that:

:: A killer new visual design is being launched—with a HUGE, sweaty, bear-hug of a thanks to the team at Fuze Branding, who have been working with me for the past year on this vision. (For now I’ll just say: my business cards are scratch and sniff, bitches.)

:: An all-new UNF*CKWITHABLE product line—from book, to course, to support group, and more. This is another natural evolution, given that one of the things The Middle Finger Project does best, here, is nurture courage. I hope you love what I’ve made for you—and that it gives you THE NERVE. The nerve to be daring; the nerve to be gritty; the nerve to do what YOU want to do, and pay no mind to that little asshole voice that keeps you small. Becoming UNF*CKWITHABLE is about becoming more yourself, every single day.

:: And, well, me. In an all-new form. Here, on the blog, every single day. Because writing here is the most important thing I’ve ever done, and I want the way I spend my time to match. So, here I am. I’m going to keep showing up, every day, and I hope you will, too. Because with every word I write, and every word you read, we’re constantly redefining our understanding of the world—and creating tiny, new little muscle tears that will help us GET STRONGER TOGETHER. Because the world is a lonely place, sometime—but it doesn’t have to be.

Every single day of our lives, we’re iterating. Learning from our mistakes, making new ones, adjusting course along the way.

Some of those iterations will never be noticed; others will be done on purpose. The goal, of course, is not change itself—but how that change helps us be better.

And it is a privilege to GET BETTER alongside you every single day.

Because the man who says he is the best, rarely is.

Greatness is not an outcome, but a commitment.


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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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