Good morning dear reader, and welcome to midweek!
Today I’d like to talk about something that I think a lot of us struggle with, and that McFly were wrong about: it’s not all about you. I don’t mean that in a narcissism-busting sort of way, or want to imply that you are self-centred. You’re obviously a tremendous and non-selfish person. I actually mean in it in a really positive way.
When we were in Year 9 or 10, a girl in my form was keeping an online diary, or “blog”, if you will. (Blast from the past, right? I know. Whatever happened to those?) One thing you should understand at this point is that in those days the internet wasn’t broadcasting for us in the way that it is now. Teenage girls saw the internet as a virtual locker, and only certain friends could open it with a special key, i.e. if we told them which obscure website our stuff was on. This applied to various things, including fan fiction writing and blogging. Someone unexpectedly finding your blog in 2004 was the virtual equivalent of somebody breaking into your locker.
Anyway, some other girls in my form (who were nasty to everyone all the time for funsies – not quite bullying, but on the cusp) found this diary, printed a load of pages of it out and brought them into school. They went and found anyone who was mentioned in the blog (including me), and charmingly read out the passages of text pertaining to them. It’s not always easy to look back at your fourteen year-old self and find things to be proud of, but this is one of those moments for me:
Me: “I don’t care.”
Sort-of Bully: “But she’s said mean stuff about you!”
Me: “You say mean stuff about me all the time.”
Sort-of Bully: “She’s been horrible about everyone!”
Me: “YOU’RE horrible about everyone! Is that why you’re showing it to us? Because it saves you the effort of thinking up new insults?”
BOOM. Well chuffed. High five, past me! Etc. Anyway, the reason that I brought that story up is because I knew at fourteen that people will say unkind things because they’re upset or hurt; it’s not necessarily about you. Teenagers can be very unhappy and/or confused, so it’s not surprising that a lot of them lash out. For instance, when I was a teenager I said some dreadful things to my mum (who, as discussed in previous blog posts, is very awesome and did not deserve that), but unfortunately it’s not exclusive to adolescents.
The people who love you the most are supposed to cherish you and build up your confidence. They are supposed to be proud of you and encourage you. They are also supposed to take the mickey out of you and embarrass you occasionally. They are not supposed to take bad stuff in their lives out on you, blame you for things that you can’t possibly help or make you feel guilty because their life is not what they want it to be. Loving somebody is difficult, because you’re essentially giving another person your favourite type of cake and hoping that they enjoy eating it rather than smashing it in your face. Ultimately the choice is up to them.
Sometimes your boss will be unkind to you, or a stranger will swear at you for crossing the road when you shouldn’t, or you’ll discover that a friend has been bad-mouthing you behind your back. You have to ignore it. If someone gives you a fair criticism, use it to learn from. If someone says something about you that you think is based on truth and you could improve yourself based on it, absolutely go for your life (for example, maybe wait for the green man before crossing next time). But nine times out of ten, people who say nasty things to you are just not worth listening to. It’s not about you; they are hurting, they are lashing out, and they are trying to make you as unhappy as they are. Do not let them succeed. I have said this to you before, and I will repeat it many times: you are a wonderful human being. You do not have time to listen to rubbish like that.
Bearing that in mind, I hope that you have a lovely Wednesday filled with small victories and lots of moments of random kindness. I’m off to Surrey to help my best friend clear out her garage, because I definitely did not choose the thug life.