I feel comfortable when I’m outside. I feel claustrophobic inside. I like fresh air. It makes me feel free. I like sitting and drinking a cup of tea in the garden, I like going for a run, walking, and cycling. I did the 3 peaks challenge and I loved it. I loved being in the countryside, without any distractions. A break from modern life. I can be happy in my own company, especially when I’m outside.
I love spending time with my family and friends, but I do feel happy on my own. I think this links back to being bullied when I was younger. It made things challenging for me at the time and I think its impact on my life was deep.
I moved primary schools when I was in year five and having left a solid friendship group, I found myself being bullied for two years, I was new, I had a different accent, I wasn’t from the area, and it was hard for me to be accepted. I felt excluded.
Looking back, I can see how this affected my will, and ability, to socialise and how this prompted me to learn to enjoy my own company. If I couldn’t be included, then, to protect myself, I needed to be ok just me.
Fast forward a couple years to high school. I developed acne. I can now see acne for what it is. I know it is a completely natural condition and I know the myths are all untrue. But at the time, for me, it was the worse thing ever. To make me feel better, some people would say that my acne was not too bad, but that did the opposite of help. To me, acne was a massive deal.
I felt I stood out, I felt unattractive, and I became incredibly body conscious. I was constantly ridiculed and was often the butt of jokes. I tried to laugh along to fit in and feel liked and included, but what it did was hammer my confidence and cause me to feel insecure. I didn’t know what to do about the jokes and how to make them stop. Being me wasn’t working, so I over-compensated by being an extra version of myself to make people like me, to impress people, so that my skin wouldn’t always be the issue.
Short term this made me feel better because I wasn’t being bullied for my skin, but long term it made it so hard because I wasn’t being true to myself.
For a long time I didn’t know who I was. My decision making was never true to myself but always what I thought other people would think was right. I made decisions that weren’t what I wanted, needed, or should have done.
I didn’t like myself. To overcome that I would engage in self-destructive behaviour to try and make me feel better. It was a cycle I didn’t at the time realise was so negative, but I knew it was hard to break free from. I wasn’t always kind to everyone. I held a deep regret and sadness about this, that I found hard to carry, and even harder to overcome. I was struggling.
Despite moving on physically and emotionally, getting married and having children, I accepted that this struggle would always be with me in some way.
Then at 40, I experienced major life regret. I regretted who I had been and I questioned whether I would be able to be the person I wanted to be, and achieve the things I wanted to, in the time I had left. It took me to reach this point before I allowed myself to process what had happened to me when I was younger and understand its impact on me. I have finally accepted that I don’t have to constantly look in the past, I know that the different versions of me all taught me something about who I am and who I want to be.
If I could speak to a teenage me, I would say that you don’t need to be someone you are not to make yourself feel better. Find out who you are, like yourself, and don’t pretend to be someone else.
I’m now comfortable and more confident in who I am. I love, and am loved by, my family and friends for being me. I know the true version of myself has a lot to offer. I still feel at peace in my own company. The difference is that I know now that recharging my energy by spending time alone is an important part of me, I no longer need it as a defence mechanism.
I am Unique and I am Loved.