Sometimes you stumble upon things that change your life for the worse, but sometimes it's for the better. At the time, you never think that the little thing will make a change in your life; you just take it with a grain of salt and move on. Once it's embedded into your head, it becomes harder and harder to let go of and forces its way to the front of your mind, making itself well-known and ever-present. I, Ashley Schindler, would definitely say this is true for my life.
When I started high school back in 2009, I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist, then I wanted to be a doctor, then I wanted to be a pediatrician, and then… well, you get the idea, I wanted to do something in the science/medical field - I certainly had the grades for it - not to mention I was (and still am) obsessed with Grey's Anatomy and all the other medical shows. In April of freshman year, I had a substitute teacher that was a published and well-known author by the name of George Hopkins. I was quite the shy (yeah, hard to believe, I know) fifteen-year-old, and was mortified when anyone would read something that I wrote - except generic essays, that didn’t bother me. When my class was assigned to write a "short, five paragraph story," I took it upon myself and wrote eight pages. When I handed in my not-so-short story, I was petrified; sure, I could've written something else to hand in, but what would be the point; he would still read it. A week later when I got my story back, a giant green 100 and a ton of great comments saying that my story really captured his attention were written on it. Confidence booster? Absolutely. That was the day I realized it doesn’t matter who reads what you write, you write what you want to and if it makes you happy that's all that matters. Two months to the day later, The NASCAR Corner was up and running. It's safe to say that my dreams of becoming a doctor have diminished; although I sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had pursued it. Would I still be attending High Point University in the fall? Would I have met so many great people? The list goes on and on, but I think the answer to all of them would be 'no,' so thank you, Mr. Hopkins, for making me realize what my true calling is!
The rest of this is going to sound like I'm accepting some kind of award, but all of these people deserve credit for how far I've come.
First of all, a MASSIVE THANK YOU to all of you, yes, you, for reading this. Without your constant support, feedback, and commentary, 100,000 page views would have never been a possibility. You're all the reason that this website/blog, whatever you'd like to call it, has gotten this far. You've all become great friends to me - whether I've met you in person or not, you all have impacted my life in an extremely positive way! For all of this, I'm immensely grateful!
The next person who deserves a ton of credit for getting me where I am is Steve Byrnes. Not only is he my favorite NASCAR reporter, he's the one who has given me the best advice that I've ever received, "Keep writing from your heart; people will be able to identify with it and will feel your passion." The first time I went to the SPEED Studios, I still wasn't sure if I wanted to be in front of the camera; once I sat down at the SPEED desk, I was sure that's what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. I was fascinated with the cameras, the voice-overs, and literally everything - not to mention the people there were very friendly! When I went back this past July, I understood what was going on so I was able to obtain more and grasp a fuller understanding of what the job entailed. So thank you, Steve, for everything you've done for me, I know I've said it before, but you've really helped me understand the field better, you've given me great advice, and have served as a outstanding role model!
Finally, I would like to thank my lovely parentals. I know I'm a pain a good majority of the time, but they wouldn't have me any other way, now would you? Without them, I would never go to races because I would have no way there; I wouldn't have all the awesome NASCAR memorabilia I do; I wouldn't have my fangirling buddy [my mom] because, yes, I do, in fact, fangirl; this (click here) would have never happened (told you I fangirl); and I wouldn't have an awesome race photographer (a.k.a. my dad). Thank you for the incredible amount of support you've provided me over the past two and a half years; you continually support me no matter what I do, I love you both and thank you for everything you do for your annoying daughter.
I honestly love what I'm able to do and hope to be able to continue pursuing my passion for the rest of my life. Thank you again for everything you all do for me!