Every year I have written a reflective piece on the previous one on the lead up to my birthday. This year’s birthday is slightly different as it will be one of those big milestone ones as I turn forty. I am finding most people are flattering when I tell them how old I will be as say I do not look that age…but that begs the questions how should someone on the edge of forty look and how should they behave? Those younger than me are full of questions such as how does that make you feel and are you ready? Whereas those older shrug their shoulders and tell me I am still a baby or young. I am fast beginning to learn why it is the so called mid-life as feel a strange filling in the sandwich of youth and old age.
Looking back on my thirties as a whole at first they may seem quite frustrating but equally sedate after completing my PhD at thirty one and life since has been a very different journey to that of my twenties. They have brought good friends into my life that are like family who I would do anything for and love with all I have. The biggest part of this decade has been self discovery and acceptance as the ogre that lived in my head from my teens has gone and left a Fi-shaped person in its place that has the same love and respect as I give any human being on Earth that deserves them.
I have learnt to embrace life with making the most of each day and remembering to hold tight during the downs of the rollercoaster but remembering there are hidden positives and lights even at the darkest of times. Acceptance is definitely the key word to describe my thirties as have also understood what being asexual means to me and although it is very hard knowing I will never have my own child I have two lovely nieces. Equally, I no longer feel the outsider or alien that observes life rather than takes part in it as felt I did not belong or could not be what others wanted me to be. Labels and boxes are not meant for human beings and normal is a function on a washing machine!
I have also rediscovered my quirky creativeness and embraced it with open arms like a lost love, but my first love has become a greater passion with every passing year, which everyone that knows me was and is music! The written word and/or visuals are my talents to tell of my life, the tales of this planet’s citizens (not just the humans) and ensuring the forgotten or lost songs of the muted are sung for all to hear whilst spreading light and colour with my thoughts, actions and habits.
So what will my forties bring? There is hope and fear for the world we live in but determination not to let the negativity or hate drown me. On a personal level I am hoping I have final worked out my path and what that means in terms of career. As for love of the romantic nature…well I have never been one to chase it and if it is meant to be it is meant to be. The cynic in me still says it is for others not me. However, I am not scared or nervous at levelling up to a new decade in fact I am ready for it as see it as the next section in the book of my life that currently lies unwritten and that excites me…so bring it on!
They point and say ‘he has special needs’
And although yes that maybe partly true
There are also some needs we all share
The need to be accepted to be ourselves
To have friends that will make us smile
Learning and growing at our own speed
Feeling valued but not as fool’s gold
There are things we all need help with
Accepting there are some things we can’t
Where as others we are the best there is
We are all made of the same basic cells
But our differences are what give colour
Normal is a function on a washing machine
And nobody is truly average in every way
Making everyone special in their own way
Ils indiquent et disent ‘il a des besoins éducatifs’
Et bien oui, peut-être en partie vrai
Il y a aussi quelques besoins que nous partageons tous
Le besoin d’être accepté pour être soi-même
Avoir des amis qui vont nous faire sourire
Apprendre et grandir à notre rythme
Se sentir valorisé mais pas comme l’or du fou
Il y a des choses que nous ont besoin d’aide tout
Alors que d’autres nous sommes les meilleurs il y a
Où, comme les autres, nous sommes les meilleurs
Nous sommes tous faits des mêmes cellules de base
Mais nos différences sont ce qui donne la couleur
Normale est une fonction sur une machine à laver
Et personne est vraiment moyenne dans tous les sens
Faire tout le monde spécial à leur manière
As someone that has struggled with self image and esteem since my earliest years, but in recent times has learned to accept me as me and appreciate her for who she is.
Today on the bus I was thinking of tips on how to boost the self esteem of others, and this is what I came up with:
1. The media portrays an image of beauty that is edited and manipulated, look at people around you, they are what a “real” man or woman looks like not someone shown in The Sun, Vogue or Heat magazine;
2. How we look is but one aspect of us, by focusing on our personalities and what makes us uniquely special lets our true selves shine;
3. We all have bad days, even if we think we ‘look bad’, there are people that have it worse than we do and let go of expectations, be ourselves;
4. Smile, sounds so simple yet it can be so hard as I know well because it used to hurt my face more to not smile than to do so, so try it today;
5. Make up, do we really need these chemicals to put on a mask? It is not brave to go without, we should not feel we have to wear it to fit in or hide behind;
6. Fashion is a curious thing with designs and styles that don’t suit everyone, so wear what is comfortable and enjoy wearing, not what a magazine or website says;
7. Mirrors are mime acts copying our moves but do not become fixated with what it shows as only show a snapshot of who we are and have bits we dislike;
8. It does not matter what size or shape we are, focus on being healthy and listening to what our bodies say on functions not on how fat or slim we are;
9. Is your nose really that big or do you need larger breasts? Good friends will be honest and tell you. However, only you know and live with your body;
10. Grey hair or wrinkles? Old age is not something we all will experience, so who cares if we’re starting to ‘age’, life only goes in one direction, forward.
For me one of the most powerful and beautiful things a human can do is offer the hand of friendship to another. Finding another person that accepts us for who we are and is there when we need them as we are in return. We are on this journey alone but having companions near and far in the form of friends makes the journey more fun, fulfilled and worthwhile.
As kids in the playground we found difference something to bully or tease another over but as adults we realise it is similarities that bring us together as friends with the differences where we learn more about the world we live in. We are part of a beautiful tapestry of many colours and it is the different friendships that make up the stitches and help tell our story.
True friendship is as great as any romance, as beautiful as an artwork in a gallery and unique as snowflakes, which together shine like the stars in the sky, give warmth to melt even the coldest of hearts and stronger than a rope of spider silk binding them together. Like all things of beauty, it can never be bought or sold, so let our actions and habits do the talking.
Whether a reason or a season, a ‘them’ shaped piece can be found in our hearts and soul to treasure, marking their presence in our lives and what makes us smile when we think of them. Everyone deserves to feel the love, hope and magic of friendship, so do not feel there is nobody out there caring as there is. So take a minute today and whisper our thanks.
As today is International Day of Peace, I took five minutes out of my day, shutting my eyes to think what it means to me.
Minute one – I thought of those that bring me comfort when sad, the people that make me smile and laugh, the way they look, the sounds of their voices and what they individually mean to me.
Minute two – I thought of the differences I have to the people above in my life, their little quirks and indocracies that I see as being very them, and the acceptance we have for each other.
Minute three – I thought of what life would be like without them in my life, how different it would be to it is now, and how I would react to someone or something hurting them in any way.
Minute four – I thought of those elsewhere in the world that have no one to love or trust in, live in continual threat of war, and where being different is stigmatised with fear of death.
Minute five – I thought of hope, to send to those that are in war zones, some have never known peace, how we magnify difference and not accept, and that one day that there will be peace.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give to another is to be kind to them: not judging or putting them in boxes, expecting them to be like someone else, accepting their differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience if someone who has let us down, however, when it keeps happening then is the time to question, not to be offended or angry when someone does something their way that is not our own. When another is down, do not exploit that for fame, money or laughter at the other, but be there in spirit (if cannot be there in person) to reassure them they are not alone but loved and respected, even if live 100-1000s of miles away, the power of hope will reassure them as know it is meant with good heart and soul.