Environment and the Two Mismatched Earrings

Today I wore two different earrings to class. As I've told people this story throughout the day, I've heard responses like, "Oh, I'm sure your students didn't notice."

Uh, I don't think you realize what kind of earrings these were. Let me paint a little word picture for you. One earring is dangly, about two inches long, and a vintage looking, sparkly flower. The other earring is a giant silver hoop.

Yeah, they noticed. They are the ones who told me.

One girl in particular came up to me after class and said, "Did you know you're wearing two different earrings? I just wanted to let you know in case you didn't realize, so you won't go throughout the day with them on."


Can you say "humiliating"?

I was already off my game a bit today as it was because a couple of the guys in the back of the class seemed a bit giggly. Guess we know why!

This sounds like a stupid thing, I know. But I got to my car, and I sat down, and I felt just completely embarrassed. Thoughts were running through my head like, "What are they going to think of me?" and "How am I going to go back in there with a straight face for their next class?" I started thinking back on all the silly things my teachers did or wore-- the whole chalk-on-the-pants bit or the see-through shirt-- and I realize that all these years later, I still remember.

Now I can officially say I have left an indelible impression on these students' lives. Well, at least there's that.

Then other thoughts started going through my mind. "Someday you are going to be a published author, and then they'll see that you're not a joke." And, "You have friends who really believe in you... even your heros." Now, I know this sounds dumb. I do. It was one of those moments you can only really understand if it occurs in your own mind. But sitting in my car, as I started thinking through the people who God has placed in my path, and most especially my own writing heros who have spoken words of affirmation and encouragement into my heart about my writing, something changed for me. I began to remember who I was again. I began to remember who God saw me as being. The dreams He has spoken over me. The plans.

The point of this whole anecdote, aside from hopefully giving you a good laugh and leaving you all with an indelible impression of me as well, is that our environment matters. I learned that today. Change your environment, and you'll change your attitude. When I was standing at the podium with my newly-realized two different earrings on, I felt like a complete joke of a teacher. When I was sitting in my car, I felt like a literature instructor (albeit a quirky one, perhaps) who has something of merit to contribute to the publishing world. Now I don't mean that to sound pretentious (and if it did, please reread the above anecdote until you realize pretentious is the last thing I was feeling today)-- but confident in my calling.

If you are struggling with doubt, fear, insecurity, or even just plain ol' discouragement, I would encourage you to try changing your surroundings. Become more aware of the soundtrack the voices in your mind are replaying throughout the day. Maybe it means making new friendships and finding mentors who will invest in and affirm your calling. Maybe it's something as simple as getting in a new physical setting, such as a quaint coffee shop, to recharge your batteries, or finding a sentimental place that feels like home. Maybe it means taking a time out today to read your Bible in a whole new light, allowing God to affirm His truths of purpose in your life. But, by all means, position yourself for success. Get yourself in a place--physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, relationally--where you are best suited to develop the skills God has given you and the calling He has spoken over your life.

And take it from me-- you may want to take another glance in the mirror before you head out the door.


  1. Ashley, I am so glad you got that out of this. You ARE an incredible author, and one day you'll have such a following that readers will be wearing two different earrings just to be like Ashley Clark! Love you!!!!!

    1. Ha! Wouldn't that be something? You are such a fabulous critique partner and friend, Ang! Love you, girl!