Mo: What are some things you thought you'd probably have the answer to a couple years down your career that you still haven't gotten answered yet?
Ashleigh: I did a panel recently where someone asked if I could have it all. For me, when do you define when that happens? What is all? Is it when I'm 90 and about to die? This idea of having figured everything out... I think when I was starting out, my parents would say they're proud of something and say it like I've achieved this massive thing, but I'm just getting started in what I'm trying to do. Dazed is such a good place to figure that all out because they give you the freedom to curate your own show or write for something else or whatever. I'm a virgo so I have to make everything perfect.
Mo: I'm one, too. It's horrible.
Ashleigh: I hate it! I'd rather be anything else.
Mo: Do you feel like you're always thinking about the end result to a damaging degree? I'm still learning to enjoy the process of making things rather than being fixated on the finished product.
Ashleigh: I definitely am like that. With Dazed, I'm only on the online side of things, so the turnarounds are quick. But some of the trips I've done, I'll be in my head about needing to get this or that done, but you wish you could enjoy the process of being at that interview or meeting that person. In my freelance projects, like that show I curated with Melissa, I think we produced it in two months from scratch and I was doing my full time job at Dazed as well.
Ashleigh: So, I'm sure I did appreciate the process like being on set with the artists, but the other things, I look back on it and notice how towards the end I was looking at things and wanted to just open the show and have it done. But you're also wondering, What if no one comes? So you don't actually want to finish it. You just want to stay suspended! [both laughing]
Ashleigh: I need to not look at how successful something is going to be, especially as a journalist online. You're looking at the stats of articles and seeing what gets people engaged and talking, but we don't measure the success of a piece by that.
Mo: The temporary band-aid fix I've found is to just keep working and not look at the rear view mirror, but it's not sustainable because you start to forget to check in with yourself and see what you’ve done.
Ashleigh: When I opened the show, I don't think I remembered the opening. I was super tired; I wasn't drinking or eating. I was overwhelmed by everything. I needed to process that instead of just moving on. You have to count your moments and know that you did a good job on something.
Ashleigh: I always tell my friends to sit with the success of a project. Even if it was a failure, sit with that moment, feel it, and appreciate it. Don't forget it because you've worked really hard on it. So many people are quick to discount everything they do. Maybe you need that advice because you're skipping along too fast!
Mo: This is a great therapy session. [both laughing] Sometimes I honestly believe that but I've set this arbitrary defense mechanism where I don't want to love my work that much. There’s the ongoing balance of serving what I do justice but not getting too invested in the justice of it all.
Ashleigh: It's a protective thing. We're trying to protect ourselves from saying I'm great, because then if something goes wrong and you're like, “Oh, I'm not as great as I thought I was.” But if you're constantly at a level of, “I'm okay,” then you can't really get too low down or fall too much. I love the people who walk into a place and are like, “I'm fucking amazing and I'm god.” And I'm like, give me some of that! [both laughing] Because I'm out here thinking okay is good. Kanye West is problematic but his confidence...
Mo: Him thinking he’s god is crazy, but he did that.
Ashleigh: He's still doing it! [both laughing]