Friday, 16 January 2015

Beee yourself....

It's that time again.

The very beginning of the year. 

Apart from being freezing cold and done with Celebrity Big Brother; we're all feeling determined to make 2015 the year to top all others. 

We're vowing to lose weight, get fit, finish projects, start projects, look after ourselves, travel more, work harder, save more money, drink less, read more, handle our time more effectively and become generally more well rounded, better looking and intelligent people. 

Which is all great. Contrary to this year's fashion, I'm a big supporter of the New Year Resolution. 

What a brilliant time to make a change- apart from anything else- it's easy to measure your progress when you start at the beginning of the year. 

As a teenager I would come up with a list of about thirty resolutions per month, all along the lines of: stop doing/saying stupid things all the time, look more like Rachel from Friends, dress more like Destiny's Child, listen to cooler music, wear more makeup....

This went on officially until I was eighteen, when I made one resolution for 2008: to take up Latin and Ballroom dancing again. I fulfilled that one resolution and took it further than I ever could have dreamed, and so discovered the power of one realistic and life-changing vow per year. 

I did continue, however, to make resolutions throughout the year alluding to the ones I had made all the way through my teens, until around my 22nd birthday. 

Not long after I turned twenty-two, someone mentioned something about me being cool. 

Even reading the word cool in my voice is uncool. 

Anyway. Someone mentioned that I was cool and one of the girls I was with laughed. 

She said: 

Rebecca isn't cool in the traditional sense of the word. She's cool in that she is so far away from cool and yet is totally comfortable with that. She knows who she is and she's happy about it. She has no desire to change to become cool, and that makes her absolute lack of cool, cool. 

(Has the word "cool" started to look and sound strange to you, as well?)

In that moment the way I saw myself changed totally. 

She was absolutely right. I did quite like who I was. I knew I wasn't the beautiful, fashionable, smooth-talking popstar that I'd always assumed I would one day grow into, but I was really happy. 

I realised in that moment that if I continued to just embrace my own personality and everything that came with it, forgetting ever trying to fit a certain stereotype or constantly comparing myself to others, maybe who I was could be enough for me. 

Obviously I, like everybody else on the planet, will continue to change. I will continue to adapt and develop and grow, and am becoming a slightly better and slightly worse- slightly different, nonetheless- person every single day. 

But that core is still there. 

I am starting to accept that I will never be a popstar. I would now be in the overs category on The X Factor, alongside the likes of Wagner and Mary, and we all know where they end up (not in the charts, that's for sure). 

The reason I'm writing about this now is that a few things have happened recently to get me thinking about finding the balance between being yourself, being socially accepted, realising what has to change and accepting what never will...

1) Living with new people. 

At the beginning of last month I moved into a brand new shared house in Chelmsford. On day one, one of my new house mates was saying that he was spending New Year's Eve in Berlin. When I gushed that I would love to go to Germany, he responded: 

"I think you'd like it. Are you into your music?" 

My mind flicked back to the journey home from work. Singing as though my life depended on it to a combination of three Disney albums, Ed Sheeran's X and Taylor Swift's 1989. Intuition told me that was not what he meant.

"I'm really sorry I don't think I'm cool enough to have this conversation about music with you. Tell me about Berlin though..." I responded. 

When I later relayed this to my Dad's girlfriend's fifteen year old, she was horrified that I had said that to someone. 

Admitting to not being cool is not on your radar when you're fifteen. It doesn't seem quite so terrifying when you're heading toward the wrong end of your twenties :) 

2) Starting a new job.

I would like to know when everybody else feels is the right time in a new job to reveal your real personality? 

You're not actually an endless professional who reads about childcare in their spare time and has only ever wanted to work for this company. In real life you compare everything to Friends, drink far too much wine and plan on being the first winner of the X Factor to come from the overs category and go on tour with Beyonce. 

But when do you tell them that? 

I started at the end of October and am only just revealing my true colours, I think. We had a new girl start this week and she's already making everyone laugh out loud with her brilliant stories. She's made everyone relax and click with her straight away. I'm thinking that might be the way forward. Shed the professional and be yourself from Day One.  

What do you think?

3) Being a Role Model. 

At work this week I did a project with the older children on role models. 

We discussed who they are and what they do for us. 

One of the main things to come out of the project was that anyone and everyone can be a role model (though I can't say that the results were necessarily hugely accurate- one of the children insisted that his idol was his fish), and when the children wrote letters to the people that inspired them (yes, he wrote to his fish), some of them were magical. One wrote to her auntie, one to his Gran, another to the older brother of his best friend. I doubt very much that any of those role models were aware of the fact that that's what they are. They're probably crippled with self-doubt every day like the rest of us, looking at their own role models and wishing they could be more like that.

It's a lovely reminder that you never know who you're inspiring :) 

4) Remembering that somebody might be wishing they were in your shoes. 

Role model is quite a big word, and it might sound scary to think you could be one. You might think you never could be. 

But chances are someone's looking at you wishing they could be more like you. I wish I could be more like almost everyone I know. The majority of people I come in to contact have some kind of characteristic I wish I could take on. 

My cousin recently posted a diary entry that she found from when she was little that said: 

Wish of the Day: That I was my cousin Rebecca. 

Whaaaat?! It's mad to me that anyone- even a very small child- would think that. You never know who's thinking the same about you. 

5) Just being able to see yourself from other perspectives at all. 

I think Dale is the best person in the entire world. I have thought that since more or less the day I met him. And so do a lot of other people. He continues to be oblivious to how loved he is, to how wonderful everyone thinks he is, to how funny and gorgeous and intelligent he is. 

I know how oblivious he is because I spend so much time with him and I know him inside out. 

In reality I think we're all probably a little bit oblivious to these things. Except Kanye. I feel like he's quite comfortable with his positive features. 

6) Remembering who and what it is that makes you happy. 

My own role model, and one of the main people that got me thinking about this whole thing is, as any regular readers will know, Miranda Hart. 

This month, much to my absolute heartbreak, her award-winning series came to an end. 

But she ended it, as only she could, by reminding us of the importance of remembering what it is that makes us happy, and accepting that we are who we are and there's not much we can do about it. 

"I'm finally doing things for me, without the need of approval. I've finally worked out who I am. I'll always gallop with gay abandon, and I'll always find a euphemism in anything. I'll always sing if someone inadvertently speaks song lyrics, and I'll always love the word plunge. I've also realised that women like me can be sexy, it's just that the world might never affirm it so it takes us a little longer to realise it."

2014 taught me, more than anything, that my life will not always necessarily play out in a neat, fairytale story. Things will happen to ruin my plans, to make things messier than I expected, to stop my story unfolding in the way that I always imagined, and that's okay.  

At the end of last year when one area of my life went all over the place, and took the kind of twists and turns that I could never have predicted, I talked it through with my Grandma who told me "that's the tapestry of life darling." 

It was then that I realised. I learnt a lot from that unexpected turn, and have become a better person as a result. 

No number of resolutions made could have helped me learn that kind of lesson, and nor could any number of vows have prevented it from happening. 

So I'm following in Miranda's footsteps, and doing things for me, without the need of approval. I've finally worked out who I am. I'll always have a huge girl crush on Taylor Swift, and I'll always quote Disney films and Friends when giving advice. I'll always predictably wear stripes and a scarf, and I will always be obsessed with music-based reality tv shows. I'll always do that thing where I remember something funny in public and accidentally laugh out loud in the street on my own, and I will always look more like Maxine from Hollyoaks than Rachel from Friends.

I'll always be looking for a new adventure, and I'll always imagine that my life is a fairytale, even when the story's not quite working out the way it does in the movies. 

So yes, go against the grain this year and make a new year resolution. 

But remember that you are already wonderful, and no number of resolutions is about to change that. 

Maybe just vow to remember how brilliant you are. 

Oh! And in  the interest of always quoting Disney films when giving advice....

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