F is for…

I seem to have an issue with the letter ‘F’. My own name of ‘Fiona‘ sent tears of bitterness and sadness to my teenage self, bullied and abused for being myself, which others found something to pick holes in till I felt I resembled more a Swiss cheese than a human being. “Nobody is friends with Fiona” any new pupil starting my year of high school was told, one that tried was reputed to have been pushed and shoved along a corridor for daring to try to break this. Depression often called.

This in turn lent to me turning ‘Fiona‘ into ‘Freak‘, for who would want to befriend or date this girl that looked like the love child of Frankenstein and the Hunchback of Notre Dame? I could not look in the mirror for its contents scared me that felt it would laugh back at me or even shatter to cause seven more years of misery. I had people stop and laugh in the street or in their cars pointing and laughing at me, so thought why do I not just die and end this miserable existence?

It was only through using my camera to record the world through my eyes that things started to change. I took a picture of myself in Italy and saw the real me staring back at me; nobody was laughing, pointing fingers or mocking me for having my eyes shut. However, I did not understand who this woman was and nearly did not stop to find out as decided the next year whilst on antidepressants to finally end it, jumping under a train seemed the best way to make my curtain call on life.

I was caught just in time but the misery was far from over. In the following few days I was told by family they were coming to “take me back to Scotland where I belonged”! I never felt so frightened in my life, ringing round social services to mental health helplines, nobody would answer me what I should do. Eventually I got a brother based in England to get them to stop and finally I could breath, and put down my dressing robe rope that was in hand to hang from the tree in my garden.

The years that followed I did end up back in Scotland but some things were different, I end up seeing me the woman not the ‘freak‘ of my head. She was and is highly intelligent, quirky and creative not a freak of a mad scientist that needed to be put down like a sick dog. I also learnt instead of ‘Fiona‘, my friends could use ‘Fi’ and I was mostly alright with that even if didn’t feel always me. However, the F decided it wanted to change from ‘freak‘ into a new word – ‘Failure’.

I have spent now three years with this F word teasing me like the others before it. I feel a failure to humanity, that some how I am not living life the way it is meant to be, always an outsider watching in. Unable to do the ‘normal’ things people do like gain a ‘proper‘ job or move away from where I don’t belong to having partner/companion of my own. My high school physics teacher remarked on how I could always do the advanced stuff but not the basics, which feels like an echo of my life.

However, tonight something has clicked in my head, I feel a new F word is dawning, that word is ‘fine‘. I am ‘fine‘ the way I am, not everyone leads life the same way and it is okay to follow our own path not going the same as every other one. I have no idea what my purpose to what my dreams really are, but that’s okay as I am not frightened. Where will I be this time next month or year, I do not know, but what I do know is that all will be just ‘fine’ in the end and suitably Fi-shaped.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Try, try, and try again

One of the lessons I remember from primary school history was on Robert the Bruce, who upon seeing a spider in a cave came up with the idiom “if at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again.” I thought about this with modern eyes, not Robert’s 700 year old ones and how it reflected on my own life experiences.

I realised that if I achieved something straight away the chances of me ever repeating it were slim because I had no other similar experiences to show me how I got there, be able to advise others how they could achieve it or do the same using their own skills, knowledge and experiences. First time really is lucky.

I thought of the times I had tried to do something and failed, did it make me a failure or mean that would never do it? I realised an initial failure is almost expected when trying something new, as with succeeding, we do not know what variables in this case led to failure rather than a success. Was it really luck?

It dawned on me that with repeating till we get something right it shows us far more than immediate success as each attempt we see why the previous attempt did not, like seeing our footsteps on a snowy mountain. Repetition helped us learn our multiplication tables and French verbs, so to life’s lessons.

Therefore, whether we are looking for a job, trying to pass our driving test or find a new partner, each time we try we are learning just as Robert observed with that spider in that cave 700 years ago. All anyone can ask of us, and indeed we can ask of ourselves, is we try our best. Setback today, celebrate tomorrow.

© Fi S. J. Brown

You are not a failure

Negative self thoughts, we all have them. I want you reading this to know that you are a loved for who you are, a beautiful person who tries their best, and you deserve better. Do not let anyone else make you feel you are worth less than a grain of sand; but a wise person knows that a grain of sand is loved and this why beaches are covered in so many grains.

Do not apologise for not being good enough, as long as you give something all you can, that is enough. You have a value beyond money. Do not let others take advantage of or abuse you, and equally do not abuse yourself! Let your spirit soar like an eagle flying over mountains, know you are doing just fine. You are not a failure and never will be.

We all need a little reminder at times that we are someone that matters. Treat yourself to something that makes you smile, be it phoning up a friend you have no spoken to in ages to share news and giggles, going for a walk in a local park or having a long hot soak in the bath, it does not need to cost money. Remember, it’s the little things that matter most in life.

Keep this message somewhere in your heart and soul to remember when those negative thoughts try become a song, as they will get you singing along to their minor chords if you listen to them. Think of all the good things that you have done and what you have achieved against the odds, let those positive thoughts fill your heart like a gas station pump fills a car.

© Fi S. J. Brown