This is not going to be one of those blogs where I tell you all that life is sunshine and rainbows and everything is a magical land of fairies and unicorns.
Instead I am going to tell you that life and everything that goes with it is shit. It’s bloody hard work for most of it (when you’ve become an adult) and daily life is a constant battle of emotion, physical exertion and then sleep (if you can sleep that is).
Every single one of us has struggles to deal with and anyone who tells you otherwise is either a genius or a wizard.
But…….(and this is where it’s getting interesting) it’s how we react to these struggles that determines how we live our lives.
Now, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a counsellor. I’m not qualified in ANY shape or form. I do have a bronze trampolining award from high school but that’s another story (or not).
What I can talk about is my own life.
I have anxiety, depression and self esteem issues. My depression is currently asleep and not giving me any major problems. My anxiety is being managed both by medication and my own determination.
My self esteem however is something I still struggle with. I have a real problem with how I think I am perceived by the outside world and I often wonder if people like me for me, or because of what I can offer them. I internally criticise my appearance. If someone pays me a compliment then 99% of the time I will reply with a put down. I don’t do this intentionally but I guess it is something I have developed over years to keep me ‘safe’. It has become such an automatic response that I don’t even realise I’m doing it.
I wear glasses (when I remember to) and for about 2 or 3 years now I’ve worn hearing aids (again, when I can be bothered to). Lucky me eh? 42yrs old and I’ve got rubbish sight and rubbish hearing. Compared to what some people go through this is tiny but to me it’s important.
I am incredibly self conscious and if we go out anywhere nice I am always asking if I look alright, to the point where I then make myself so anxious that I almost don’t go out at all.
Which brings me to the reason of this particular musing. I have decided this year to make more of an effort to raise my own opinion of myself. Accepting a compliment is hard still but I think already I’m getting better at just saying ‘thank you’. People have made comments on my artwork and although I still don’t actually believe the comments totally, I say thank you. People have commented on my appearance, be that hairstyle, clothing or face and I have said thank you. It’s not easy at first but I hope that the more I do it the more I might enjoy it. Then, hopefully, the more I enjoy it the easier it will be to push back the negative comments that may come my way (from myself). I figure that if I believe in myself then it will ‘shine’ outwardly and make it easier for me to believe that what I am doing is the right thing for me. And me only.
I have also made more of an effort to wear my hearing aids again (2 days in a row now….go me!) and am starting to actually embrace the fact that I am slightly deaf and this is just something that is happening. I can’t change it, I won’t magically get my hearing back but I’m beginning to not care. Not caring is a very powerful tool to have in my arsenal. Sometimes it’s actually quite a relief not to be able to hear everything.
I also decided to make a conscious effort to look my best, but only for my benefit. If that means wearing my zebra stripe Vans trainers with jeans and a shirt then so be it. I don’t really care what other people wear (unless it’s offensive) so why should they care what I look like? I’ll be smart when I need to and casual when I want to.
There is one exception to the rule though. Crocs!!! Nobody needs to wear them other than at the beach, in the garden or if they are children under the age of 5. Anywhere else and they should be banned.
My final thought about self esteem is that at this time of year it is bloody difficult to think you look alright. We’ve had 2 or 3 months of adverts telling us to eat what we like and stuff our faces with chocolate, cake, amazing desserts and drink copious amounts of alcohol. Now, we have shops and adverts basically telling us we are overweight and unhealthy and we all need to go on a diet.
So there you have it, we’re doomed from the beginning and fed all sorts of things to reinforce the belief that we need to change. But the ONLY thing we need to change is the way we react when things aren’t quite as they seem. Ignore the adverts, ignore the marketing gimmicks and just enjoy yourself.
Right, I’m off to find that pot of gold. Wish me luck 🌈