Sunday, August 4, 2013

Coming to Terms with Yourself

I have been seeing head people for as long as I can remember. On and off, my entire childhood and adolescence seems to have revolved around a small, quaint room filled with posters screaming bright slogans such as ‘YOU CAN DO IT!’ and ‘LET YOUR SMILE SHINE!’. At that point in my life, I wasn’t even sure if I was capable of smiling. For the last twenty odd years of my twenty-two year old life I have been what I constantly referred to as a ‘pulpy mess’. Most of the time I could call my sense of being and state of mind as akin to the process of making paper. Murky mush being agitated and pushed through a machine. These colourful rooms with their comfy couches and friendly, older faces over time morphed into clean, white rooms, with not so friendly faces. Where I would usually hold tissues in my clammy, young hands I instead found prescriptions for various antidepressants and anxiety management medications.

Without going into too much detail about my life, I was a largely ignored child by my parents and family, heavily bullied at school, with an abusive best friend who (I only in recent times discovered) had Asperger’s syndrome. I was openly disliked, a compulsive liar, an attention seeker, and due to my sexual awareness from a young age I was often not invited to social gatherings with other friends because I was apparently a bad influence on the other children. The only person with time for me was my grandmother, but that quickly evaporated when she moved away to be nearer to her disabled daughter, a seven hour drive away from the only pair of arms that truly loved me (or so it felt, anyway).

My sub-zero self esteem, teamed with an uncontrollable rage left me socially crippled, with barely enough gumption to get up and go to school on weekday mornings. This gradually transformed when I hit age 16, and I was introduced to the man who changed my life. As much as I would like to say something like ‘he stood at the front of the room with a sly grin on his face as he welcomed his new pupils for the year’, I honestly can’t remember what the hell he did, but I know I would have been taken aback by the three piece suit. Damian Byrne, my Year 11 Visual Communication and Design teacher, noticed something in me that to my understanding had never been acknowledged by anyone else before; I had talent, and I had a lot of it. He helped me to see the good in myself, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was going to be somebody.

Unfortunately this new appreciation for myself escalated too much the other way. I became a narcissistic douche bag. That brought with it its own journey, but by age twenty-one I had come to a comfortable level, the equilibrium between self-esteem and self-worth. Though I was still pretty much a sad sack I still saw head people from time to time. One of these head people was a psychiatrist who began teaching me The Work, that is, the theories of Byron Katie. Though I took on board what he’d told me in session, I didn’t bother with the book he recommended me at the time.

Between then and now, I would like to introduce y’all to a few of my own personal methods on coming to terms with yourself that I have been employing for the last year or so.

Number One: Stop taking yourself too seriously.

I can’t even begin to explain this one on a personal, anecdotal level. Those who have known me for longer than a year may appreciate how seriously I took myself. It brought me nothing but embarrassment and more anxiety in the end. I would tell people my grand ideas and then stress to the point of nausea if I felt for a second I may not be able to follow these fantastical schemes through. I always tried, and made a lot of headway, which just stressed me out more. All of my dormant projects still bring me shame and misery in one way or another. On a social level though, not taking myself so seriously anymore has caused me to enjoy my time with other people, and I feel they might actually genuinely enjoy my presence too.

Number Two: Ignore your star sign.

For anyone into zodiac, this may be relevant. For anyone who thinks it’s all poppycock, take this point on board but feel free to ignore it as well. I happen to fall into the former category. Being Cancerian convinced me that I was not much more than an overemotional twat. It’s been proven, I’m sure, that you become what you’re told you’re going to be. Or something. Whenever I would cry or feel anxious, I would be met with “oh, you’re such a Cancerian. Stop being such a Cancerian.” By description, my favourite people were Geminis. I wanted to be one so badly. Why couldn’t I be born in early June?! This thought caressed my mind on many occasions. I realised that perhaps it really is all poppycock, though, and feel I have embraced being a pseudo Gemini in the last little while, attempting to be more social and more of a party hound.

Number Three: Happiness is an emotional state.

Following on from being an overemotional Cancerian, it took me some time to realise that happiness is actually an emotion. It’s odd, because I had been musing this for a while, and it was confirmed by my friend Rachel the other day, when she said exactly the same thing to me whilst on a lunch date. People don’t realise that happiness is not a natural state of being. It is an emotional state of being. You can control your thoughts and learn how to be happy. I won’t write all that down because I’d probably be up for plagiarism from Byron Katie.

Number Four: You don’t have to actualise every idea you have.

This is just another point following on from taking yourself too seriously. This realisation came from one of Rachel’s friends via Facebook conversation a week or so ago when I became overwhelmed with my fabric collection and expressed my feelings via status update. This simple notion was never really considered by me. I don’t have to make everything I think up happen! What a relief! I think up things constantly. We just need to filter our ideas and pick only the best ones to devote our time to and run with. Though this may seem like such a given notion, I’d like to quote Leonard Cohen here from his book ‘Beautiful Losers’, that is, ‘never overlook the obvious’.

Number Five: You do not need to know everything.

There have been absolutely countless times where I have lied about knowing something, having seen a film, read a book, heard of a band, or be familiar with a celebrity. It then became anxiety inducing when my so-called knowledge of the subject was questioned, or I was asked to give my opinion. My motive for doing this was simple: I wanted people to like me, and appear to have common interests. Seeing as I’ve found that people on the whole are all similar beings, I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has done this. I have been traumatised by conversations like this:

Person: You’ve seen ‘Forest Gump’, yeah?

Me: No, actually I-


Me: *hides under table*

Although this was quite embarrassing in regards to the reaction of said Person, it did end up with us entertaining the idea of going back to their house and watching it at 4am. Though, this never happened, I know the offer is still probably there. I love sharing things with people. Music, movies (especially movies!), fashion brands, etc. I’m guessing other people do too. So if you tell the person asking if you know of –blah-, say no. It opens up an opportunity to get together with this person again and you can get connected to part of their world that they would not have otherwise shared with you.

Number Six: You cannot ignore your nature.

When I was smaller, I was obsessed with children. I wanted my own so badly. I mothered my friends. When I was diagnosed with endometriosis and informed that I may not be able to conceive I went into a deep, angry period and hated children, pregnant women, seeing families in the supermarket, the whole shebang. It did not help that my mother had bought over a maternity wear store and I was working pretty much full time there for a while. This angry shell finally broke one day and I realised that even if I can’t have my own children, I am a born mother and I can’t change that. I’m also a born flirt, and a hopeless romantic, but that is something that is actually detrimental to my daily function. I can’t suppress it though, it’s my nature. But also not an excuse.

Number Seven: More people give a shit about you than you think.

I don’t even need to explain this one.

Number Eight: Everyone’s winging it.

As a child, I was convinced that once I reached adulthood I would have it all together. Because adults seemed to have it all worked out and all. What faith! In a deep conversation with my cousin (who is a lawyer) we discussed how both of us, a professional and a student, had no idea what the heck we were doing, and that we were just making it all up as we go. Accepting that you’re perhaps not supposed to have it all together is probably the most refreshing thing ever.

Number Nine: Be as you as you can be!

In my dating life (and friend life to an extent) I would freak out about the ‘rules’ of dating. Am I allowed to text them now? Should I call them? Is it weird to tell this person I miss them? Am I allowed to be annoyed with them? All these questions, Nitty would just answer “just be you”. Just be me? My frantic, jumbled, hilarious, intense lump of me? I can’t do that, possibly! The person of my affection would run and find me crazy. Her reasoning was simple, and effective:

If this person truly likes you, and wants to be with you, they will not run from your true self.

This brings me to my favourite quote from Dr Seuss, ‘Be who you are and say what you feel, for those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind’.

That’s pretty much all that I can be arsed writing right now, and if you got this far I congratulate you on your want to improve your life, or stalk mine, either or, I am proud of you.

I cannot stress enough of the book ‘I Need Your Love – Is That True?’ by Byron Katie. Hell, someone’s even uploaded the entire audio book on YouTube! Please search for the playlist, I’d link you but I don’t want to lose my spot! ;)


  1. This may be my favourite post ever, just what I needed:)

  2. I came here for the stalking, but man! Good post. I like yo writing gurl. As in, you are a good writer. :)

    P.S. Forest Gump is way overrated.

    P.P.S. My name is Gemma, I know you. I'm not just some anonymous stalker, I'm am educated one.

  3. Girl, way to become more comfortable in your own skin! These aren't easy things to learn or implement, but your life is worlds better when you do. I had a major realization a few years ago when it finally dawned on me that not everyone has to like me-- I've a bigtime people pleaser, and would be CRUSHED if someone thought I was weird or something, or if I made a mistake and disappointed someone. I felt so free and light when I realized that it's OK if someone doesn't like me. I can't make everyone happy, I can't be perfect all the time, and I don't need to be. Pretty obvious to everyone else, I'm sure, but it made a big difference to my self-esteem and health.

  4. Really,
    you've just inspired me. I'm in psychotherapy myself for six months now, trying to get my brain understand that it's not wrong to dissapoint people, to disagree with people, to do things because you want to do them and not because you think you have to do them.

    And it seems, reading the comments above, that these 'mental' tresholds keeping me back exist everywhere in the modern day society (I live halfway accross the globe). Thank you very much for your insights, and brave of you for sharing this! Really. And I haven't seen Forrest Gump either, I don't know what Star Wars is, and I only like music no one else knows :)

    I find great relief in writing, not typing, writing everything down every now and then. Just words and sentences, one after the other. I helps to clean up my attic ;)

    Oh, and I am definitely going to check the books you mentioned, especialy the Leonard-Cohen-one.

    Greetings from far far away,