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How I Found the Courage Within to Be My Own Best Friend
by Dontaira Terrell
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February 20, 2020

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14 Minute Read

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How I Found the Courage Within to Be My Own Best Friend

Credit: ashleycmeverett/Instagram

As a self-appointed committee member of the Beyhive, I stan Ashley Everett! Most notably known for being the dance captain for our beloved Queen Bey, Ashley is an internationally recognized professional dancer with an ever-growing list of accolades. She’s worked with other countless artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Ne-Yo, and Ciara, to name a few. When I hear the song “Diva” by Beyoncé, particularly the line “Since 15 in my stilettos still struttin’ in this game,” I think of Ashley. Although not quite 15 as the song suggests (but close enough), since 16 years old, she’s been carving out the life of her dreams. Perhaps why she and Bey have been able to grow and learn from each other in their professional journeys. The parallels are evident; sacrifice, hard work, and familial support behind two rockstar women with big goals and even bigger dreams [literally] since they were teens. 

At only 30 years old, she’s not just breaking barriers, she’s blazing paths. But behind the image and flashing lights, she’s just like you and me, working every day to figure out this thing called life. Living in the spotlight is no easy feat. With her every move closely monitored under a microscope, it was all good until it wasn’t. During “The Formation World Tour” in 2016, her love life and career intersected when her ex-boo proposed in front of a sold-out audience. Social media went crazy, and the engagement went viral. Then it happened. The questions, whispers, and side-eyes began rolling in about her relationship status. Personally, I’m easily frustrated when one or two people question me about marriage or other intimate happenings in my life. Quite frankly, it’s none of their business, so I can’t imagine receiving the third-degree from around the world. 

Not to be defeated, and although she didn’t owe anyone an explanation, Ashley made a bold move and broke her silence late last year, confessing there wouldn’t be a wedding. The way society and social media are set-up these days, everyone wants the tea. Despite public scrutiny and humiliation, and instead of having others tell her story, she took back control of her narrative. Finding the courage from within to stand up for herself and walk away from a relationship that no longer served the greater good of who she is at the core. The journey of self-love is challenging, but she’s putting in that work! Learning from past love lessons, rediscovering her happiness, and developing a stronger sense of self. She fought to become and protect the woman she is today and make peace with her past. Grab a pen and pad to take notes and get you a dose of these self-love gems that Ms. Ashley is dropping down below. 

Money doesn’t necessarily bring you happiness. Of course, we all want to be rich, but I’ve learned money isn’t everything.

BlackLove.com: What is the most difficult decision you’ve had to make to pursue your goals?

Ashley Everett: One of the most challenging decisions early on in my adult life happened when I was around 18- years old. It was deciding between attending Juilliard for college or sticking with the commercial dance world, which eventually led me to tour with Beyoncé. I consider that one of my first big girl decisions! Before this, planning a move to New York when I was 16-years-old was a huge decision as well. I also didn’t have a choice because of my mom. My family made the final decision for me, and I’m thankful for that. Who knows where I would be if they hadn’t decided on my behalf because I wanted to stay in my hometown, finish high school and just be with my friends. 

BL.com: At 16, was the decision to move to New York-based on attending Julliard? 

AE: No. It was for the opportunity to be in a larger city with more opportunities. In my small town of Chico, CA, I was at the top of my dance studio, and I needed to enhance my professional experience. I also needed to be inspired and surrounded by other dancers who were better than I was so I could continue to grow. I love my city, so no shade to the hometown!

BL.com: Did your parents move with you to New York? 

AE: My mom moved with me, but my dad didn’t. They remained married but were living apart on two different coasts all for me to ensure I was able to fulfill my dreams. 

My love language is giving and showing affection because I’m expressing to you that I care, but I need it in return.

BL.com: How do you believe this affected their relationship? 

AE: It certainly affected their relationship in the long run because my dad and brother were left at home in California while me and my mom lived in New York. A lot of things I think changed, especially parenting wise for them. But they pushed through and are still happily married. They’re my couple goals. If you see them in person, my dad kisses my mom all of the time. 

Credit: ashleycmeverett/Instagram

BL.com: Being in the spotlight, how do you find your center? 

AE: I think the key to sanity with being in the spotlight is having a good foundation with the people in your circle. The right people in your circle will continue to keep you grounded and humble. You are a reflection of the company that you keep. So if you surround yourself with egotistical or narcissistic types of people, then eventually you’ll become just that. My family and friends, who are also very much like me, keep me grounded, humble, and relatable. I like using the word relatable because so many people think I’m not relatable based on an image. But when I sit down and talk, the response is usually, “OMG; you’re so normal.” 

Related: How to Keep a Good Woman

BL.com: You were proposed to on the stage of one the world’s biggest superstars, Beyoncé! Your engagement went viral; however, you decided to end the relationship with your former fiancé. Since the breakup, how have you healed your heart?

AE: I am very happy with the way everything played out. I’m a happier and lighter individual. But I’m also still learning by figuring out what I want, what I deserve, and what I will and will not tolerate. My love language is giving and showing affection because I’m expressing to you that I care, but I need it in return.  

I’m also learning to set boundaries and identify when to stand up for myself and stand my ground without being easily swayed. Everything is a lesson. That’s what I’ve taken from every past relationship or situation, whether business or personal. 

BL.com: What was the defining moment when you realized it was time to walk away from this relationship? 

AE: It was a gradual process. But the defining moment I knew it was over was Thanksgiving 2018 when I saw him, and I didn’t have anymore feelings. I realized it was the confirmation I needed because I wondered what would happen and whether or not I was going to feel something. It honestly felt like I was meeting, what could’ve been a stranger. It was the clarification I needed to close that chapter. 

Another defining moment when I knew this relationship was not for me was when he entered into a new business venture. I was hesitant about it and voiced my concern, but he pursued it anyway without minding my feelings about the situation. Looking back, it was a huge red flag, but that was probably the moment that was very deciding on our relationship. From there, other things played out. People definitely grow apart, but I also think people make choices. We all make choices for careers or relationships sometimes, but in that particular situation, he chose this business move solely for himself. 

The defining moment I knew it was over was Thanksgiving 2018 when I saw him, and I didn’t have anymore feelings.

BL.com: You two were together for many years. Can you expand on your statement, “people grow apart?”

AE: We were together for eight years, and I was 21-years old when we began dating up until I was 29. Those are two different chapters of your life. I’m definitely not that same 21-year-old when we initially got together, and I’m not the same 25-year-old either, and neither is he, and that’s okay. 

Credit: ashleycmeverett/Instagram

BL.com: One love mistake you vow never to make again?

AE: Putting someone before myself. I would do anything to make someone else happy before me. Ironically, from day one, you’re taught that you should always put yourself first, but you have to learn on your own. We have to be reminded of this sometimes because it’s so easy to give and keep giving all of the time. 

BL.com: What is your definition of love, and who exemplifies this? 

AE: Loyalty, passion, honesty, and communication. All of that exemplifies love. It’s unconditional. It’s knowing that some days you might not like the person, but you still love them. Even if it’s just your friend that you love, you still have to do all of those things to sustain a genuine friendship. My parents exemplify the true meaning of love. They are my goals, especially in terms of a relationship. They go through ups and downs, but what couple doesn’t? They’ve been going strong for more than 35 years, and they’re an interracial couple too, so that’s an added layer. 

Related: How to Build a Foundation for Love

BL.com: If you had a theme song from Beyoncé’s catalog, what would it be?

AE: Honestly, we’ve all probably been through the emotions of Lemonade, but right now in life, my theme song would be, “Me, Myself and I.” I also love her song, “All Night,” because it makes me feel so good every time I hear it. That song would be my lifelong memo.

BL.com: What is the lesson you would want to teach your younger self?

AE: Balance. Balancing my career, personal aspects, and life in general. When I was younger and growing in my career, I missed out on a lot, such as weddings, births, funerals, and birthdays. Now, I’m much better at balancing because I’ll turn down a job for someone’s birthday or a wedding, but I never used to do that! It was always about work. 

Although you might get a check, you end up being upset because you missed out on something else. The money doesn’t necessarily bring you happiness. Of course, we all want to be rich, but I’ve learned money isn’t everything. When you attend milestone events for family and friends, it’s all feeding back into yourself and contributing to your overall happiness. 

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