Written by Ashley Dier | Academy Of Lions Media Team | Toronto


Dear Diary, I’ve Changed

I enjoy writing, I really do, but writing about yourself is awful. Profile pieces are the equivalent of leaving your diary open in a coffee shop for everyone to read, tear stained pages open, the juiciest, embarrassing details revealed. One could argue that since I’m steering this ship, I choose what parts of myself I reveal and which remain hidden, but it’s not that easy. There are 31 years of experiences and emotions to sift through, 31 years of failures and successes, of triumphs and victories, all playing a role in shaping the me of today. Sure, the egomaniac types would love the opportunity to talk about themselves and boast about their accomplishments, but that’s not me. I much prefer to tell the stories of others, infact I love it. I love the challenge of opening up a closed off person or exposing the softer side of someone notoriously hard, but writing about myself, no thanks. You can imagine the elation I felt when I was told to make the piece this week about myself…

It makes sense to start at the beginning. I’m from a small town, the kind of place where privacy is nonexistent, grade school friends eventually marry one another and it’s fairly likely that your “partner” has been everyone else’s “partner” at some point. I’ve never been one for societal traditions. I’m the oldest of three children and the only one unmarried and without children. With my grandmother’s tenacity I left that small town knowing full well that was not the life I wanted. No disrespect intended, that just wasn’t the life I saw myself having. I was on a quest for something different, or so I thought.

After many years in various schools spent “finding myself” I finally landed on something that made sense, journalism. I flew through school and landed at what I thought was my dream gig at a place I had been dreaming about since childhood, Much Music. All the ups and downs had been worth it, my family was proud, I was occasionally on TV, everything was awesome. But everything was not awesome. Around this time late nights became later and sober nights were few and far between. I was putting my body through hell in numerous ways. The damaging behaviour carried through after the recession hit and hundreds of us were laid off, after I couldn’t find a job and didn’t know what I wanted to do, and after I realized that the job I thought I wanted was not really the job I wanted at all. All of the excess began to feel normal, it became a way to cope.

I don’t remember the specific moment when I realized that I needed to step away from the path I had been heading down. For years, the self destruction had been gaining momentum, I can see this clearly now. I can remember many low points with surprising detail, none of which are worth sharing. I remember pulling a pair of running shoes from deep in my closet, pulling them from a different life. I remember putting on the shoes and going for a run, it was awful. Remember my grandmother's tenacity? I still have it, after many failed attempts, I stuck with running. It’s incredibly cliché to say “running changed my life” but in a way it has. Running has been the catalyst for positive change in my life. I now chase goals and pb’s. I run for hours and proudly finish races. I have meaningful relationships with friends on paths similar to my own. I have a job that I love that doesn’t feel like a job at all. I lift weights and attempt pull ups. I have a clear mind, an open heart and I feel strong. I love the sound of my own breathing and the soft, quick patter of my feet on the sidewalk. My life has become about being the best version of myself and helping others to be the same. I have grown to love going home to the now even smaller town and getting lost in the middle of the woods.

If someone was to stumble upon a personal diary of mine at the coffee shop today it would read something like this: Dear Diary, I’ve changed.

My goal with this column is to uncover, share and discuss the stories of the people and experiences that shape this community. Influence seemed like an appropriate place to start, and I’ve now shared my own, next I’ll dig into the roots of our community.