fears

Anxiety...The ups, the downs: How to get over the humps and through the dumps.

Someone said to me the other day that I always seem so positive... I laughed. because if you know me, you know that I am not the most positive person at all. I would love to say that I just always see the bright side of life, that my glass is always half full and that I wake up hearing the birds singing out of my window and I sing a Disney tune along with them as they fly over and land on the palm of my hand as we look at each other grinning, tweeting, in harmony we hum. I wish I could tell you that, but it would be a lie. Instead, my natural disposition is to feel a little hard done by, wonder why my glass is half empty and get woken up by the birds outside and want to throw my lamp at all their chirpy little annoying faces. 

My mum asked me once, towards the beginning of my fitness journey (and/or) IG... Was there an aspect of "faking it till you make it" Do you have to pretend to know the journey you are on, pretend to trust the process, pretend to enjoy waking up early and doing exercise, pretend to LOVE ALL THE PROTEIN, in order to... what? Trick yourself?Trick your mind? Ambush old habits and build upon new ones?

Well, yes, actually. YES! 

And if this goes for fitness/eating well, then I believe it goes for any other journey we may be on. If you are naturally dis positioned to feeling down, to having anxiety. If you go through ups and downs with emotions, of "why me?" If you find it hard to get out of bed, hard to be productive, hard to eat well, exercise, treat your body the way it deserves. If you can't stop the negative thoughts, the constant self bashing and shame talking and feelings of self pity or hopelessness. You are not alone. Not everyone lives in a 1980's ROLLERSKATING BARBIE COMMERCIAL!

Noone has it all figured out. Noone looks amazing in a tie die tight leotard with roller skates and pink leg warmers.

This is the real world. Where we get dumped, spend too much money, avoid skin tight things that give us camel toe (Barbie never had camel toe cos she had no fanny flaps for christ sake, no wonder some of us women have weird body image ideals) Sorry, I digress...We wake up anxious, eat too many calories, get puke in our hair, cry at adverts with penguins in, throw bacon at our boyfriends (Oh wait, is that just me) Basically, I have been to those dark places, and still do end up there at times. It's hard to admit the insecurities that run deep. The lack of self worth that has driven me through many a silly life choice, like giving away my dignity to boys that didn't care, embarrassing myself for friends that didn't matter, pitying myself for thoughts that weren't true. I have found a way to get closer to knowing myself, loving myself more than I ever have, more than I ever thought I could. But it has taken continuous, daily work. 

I am nearly 32. I have, in the last couple of years, changed my thoughts, little by little. But they resurface. When I am feeling particularly vulnerable. When I am less than confident in the outcome, reaction or my ability to proceed with a challenge. I remember when I wouldn't post my blog posts in case people hated them. I remember when I wouldn't work out in case I couldn't do it properly, or when I wouldn't eat healthy in front of people in case they thought I was boring, or when I wouldn't do well in auditions because "doing shit" meant I had an excuse for why I didn't get the job. When I wouldn't get up in the morning because "what was the point?" Or I wouldn't say hi to people in case they thought I was too keen, too needy, too desperate. I didn't write that book because, why would anyone read it. I didn't give my script to that producer because, it was probably crap anyway. I din't buy that dress in case my friends hated it, or go on that course because, well, I was never gonna be good enough to take it further. I didn't start that you tube channel because who would wanna listen to me, and anyways, other people have done it, said it before...

The last few days I have been feeling vulnerable again. I've been reminded of the cobwebby, damp smelling corners of my mind, that rise sometimes, out of nowhere and haunt me for a while.

All my teenage life I wanted to be the "cool girl" The one that didn't care about their weight. The one that wore her hair messy and undone as it fell into place perfectly imperfect. Someone that would wear baggy jeans and not look like an eight year old chubby boy. I wanted to be one of those girls that everyone liked. That noone said a bad word against. The girl that people were drawn to and wanted to make friends with because you were interesting, funny (likeable) I wanted to be everything I felt like I was not. It created so much anxiety in me, I would cry, throw pity parties, throw tantrums, be grumpy, be obtuse, be obscene, crave attention, crave validation, self worth. I would also push people away, have barriers up, be needy, be easy. I would seek affection, from a long term partner that wasnt my cup of tea (perhaps I had the sense that he was the sort to thread his eyebrows, who knows)But I stayed, four years longer than I should, until he grew bored or put off by my guard, the wall I had built to not show him that I loved him in case he 'mugged me off' My insecurities, my dismissive tendencies and need for "deserving more" meant he sought love and affection from someone that was more than happy to appease him. He wasn't grown enough, aware enough to see that his own ego needed more than I could offer. He didn't love himself enough to be a man enough to not stray. In no way am I saying if someone cheats, it is our fault, but I feel I have a responsibility to see my part I had to play in the demise of our happiness. A happy man does not cheat (I was not solely responsible for his happiness) but I take accountability for not being the best human I could have been, for him, and more importantly for myself. I stayed knowing it wasn't right, and even when it became obvious we were drifting apart, I became so desperate and needy to have him still love me, that I lost myself. I believed when he told me I was crazy for suspecting something. I believed I needed to change if we were going to make it work. I believed that If I could be "better" he would fall in love with me again.

I didn't need him to love me again. I needed to love myself. I needed to actually like myself.

I found myself at 24, living a life I didn't want to live, with a man I didn't want a life with and because I was too scared to live a different one, alone, I stayed. I hate that truth, but I was too scared that I didn't deserve a different one? I waited on the sidelines for things to happen to me. And being sure that I didn't deserve it when they didn't, resentful that the universe didn't like me much, my behaviour was unlikable. It didn't mean I was horrible, but my behaviour was.

The only way I felt would cure these notions and ideas about myself was to A) loose weight or B) have a boyfriend who adored me.

I have, even though hard to admit, been to these unattractive dark, desperate spaces in my mind. I have woken up and not been able to get out of bed. I have eaten myself drunk, I have drunk myself numb, I have lost myself fully and tried scraping the barrel of self respect as thinly as possible to muster the courage to think better thoughts, smile bigger smiles, empathise with myself more freely. Sometimes I have managed it.

Other times I have not.  

The truth... sometimes you have to "fake it till you make it" 

In everything we do, in any giant or small leaps we take into a new phase, or a new challenge, or a new direction, there is always that moment of self doubt. What if I fail? What if I can't do it? What if people hate it or me? What if I look stupid? What if someone has already done it? What if I look too try hard? What if I do not exceed my expectations? What if? What if? What if? And I speak confidently that I am not the only one who suffers from pure neurosis and angst on these things. Am I? *looks around sheepishly...

There is a lot of things I didn't do in my twenties... out of fear, self doubt, self sabotage, ego, all anxiety based around ideas I had about things that weren't true. I used to have all these dreams, yet sit around not actually doing anything to achieve them out of fear and laziness. What was the point? I never felt like I was any good at acting. I was never confident in my abilities, but I stayed, waiting. Just in case... never realising I wouldn't book the jobs I wanted until I believed in myself a little more. 

There is this juxtaposition between feeling like... we are not good enough. 'Oh no, I couldn't possibly do that, I'm too stupid, too annoying, too quiet, too slow, too disorganized, too lazy... to then thinking "Actually screw it, I can do that" Suddenly having the fear of 'Wait, who am I to think I could possibly do that? Who do i think I am?' Both are ego based thoughts, based on the same origin... "I am not good enough" 

But we freaking are good enough. We are not better than, worse than, anyone. We are capable beyond our beliefs. We are more powerful than we know and that is what we fear. It is easy to attach ourselves to the idea of what we want from something. An end goal. The perfect body, the most well paid job, the big house, the validation... As much as it is easy to attach ourselves to those crappy thoughts too... I might lose my house, I may not succeed, I may embarrass myself, people might think I'm a twat.

Sometimes you need to force habits to make them become ones. Sometimes you need to tell yourself things you do not believe yet. Sometimes you need to smile, because you may cry if you don't. Sometimes you may need to get up out of bed and dance or exercise or brush your teeth, even though all you want to do is lay their mulling over your crappy, self deprecating thoughts.

I am from a family that suffers from depression. My Granddad was manic depressive (the less cool word for bipolar) and my mum has suffered for as long as I can remember in her own fountain of self destruction. She is a wonderful human being. A kind, empathetic, generous, open, funny, giving, soul. She is full of vibrations and energy that I see spilling out of her pores, yet she feels numb. She is lost, forever trying to find self acceptance and peace within herself and It has been a learning curve, watching from the sidelines unable to help or make it better. 

What we often do, is black out our darkness. We sound proof the noise, we numb the pain, we smother the thoughts that creep out from the dark corners of our minds, with booze, TV, gossip, exercise, food obsession, bad relationships. So scared to leave ourselves open to all the angst in case it suffocates us, we make it disappear. For my mum, White Zinfandel was her choice of an Invisibility cloak. Mine... food. Having a focus elsewhere helped avoid the reality of where the seeds of self doubt grew. Preoccupying myself with time wasting. On things that don't matter or help improve our way of thinking. For years I would sit and waste time avoiding, instead of(INSERT A LONG LIST OF THINGS THAT WOULD HAVE MADE FOR A BETTER WAY OF LIFE)

A better way of life looks different to everybody. But for me, it meant, getting shit done, it meant following through on ideas I had, it meant feeling better in my skin, working a job I didn't hate, not chasing a dream I wasn't sure of. It meant spending time with more people I actually cared about and not on people I didn't. It was accepting that some people wouldn't like me, It meant liking myself, getting more tolerant of other humans, not putting myself in situations that made me feel insecure or shit, travelling more, asking myself questions I really hadn't wanted to answer. A better way of life meant knowing myself, what I wanted, what I didn't and loosing my fear of (all the things I let my thoughts create) that were null and void, useless and unhelpful.

And the only way I felt I could do that was by actually facing the thoughts I spent so long trying to cover up.

The question: What is the pay off?

What do I get out of moaning. Of feeling hard done by? Of having my guard up, pulling away. And the answer, although hard to admit and still I can't seem to write it now as I type, but subconsciously (when I dig deep) the pay off was

Feeling worthy. Special. Enough! 

So tears, tantrums, grumps, were all a way of feeling worthy. Feeling righteous. My self pity would make me feel special. Subconsciously feeling sorry for myself and giving myself the up most attention, the pat on the back, the "there there".    

A few things jolted me out of these patterns of finding self worth through self destructive behaviour that I had built up over the years. I watched two TED talks by Brene Brown that changed my life. She is a researcher (on shame) and she does these two amazing talks: found here and here. It enabled me to start thinking differently. To stop being embarrassed by my lack of self worth. Hearing her talk about shame, how it all stems from self worth, not feeling enough and it creating vulnerability, but how you could find power in that, it was so liberating. She ends one of her talks stating that we should...

"Dare Greatly"

and this made me more open and less scared about writing my blog posts. I stopped writing about fashion (which I liked, but wasn't passionate about, and begun writing about what resonates with me. I wanted to share my feelings on acting, growing up, being insecure and vulnerable. I wanted to speak about the very things that had held me back. It enabled me to find the courage to be honest. 

I also watched a speech by Shonda Rhimes  (found here) where her focus was...

"Stop dreaming, start doing"

and it propelled me to stop waiting for things to happen to me and start "doing" the things I wanted instead. So I booked a plane ticket and went to LA. And took a risk that in so many ways paid off more than I'd imagined. 

I read Caitlin Morans book, "How to be a girl" In it she says

You think it's cool to hate things... but it's not. Talk about the things you love. That's cool"

This became the building block of when I started (moaning less) I'm no Cinderella, I still moan. But I began to notice the good things in my life and start focusing on all the things that were OK to love. It was OK to love my boyfriend so whole heartedly that I risked being hurt. It was OK to love The Spice Girls, even though they weren't cool (If you are reading this girls, you are cool, you are) It was OK to like myself (even if others didn't) It was OK to find a job where I was my own boss and I liked doing, then stay in one I hated, for someone I didn't like.

Finding ways to be OK with love, rather than obtrusively hating things, like life, the struggle, the effort, I found a way to love the life I was living more by making decisions that made me smile more. Letting go of the fear, that I wasn't good enough, likeable enough, funny enough, smart enough, creative enough, interesting enough, friendly enough, pretty enough, articulate, educated, sensitive, efficient, aware, brown, white, tall, skinny... enough! 

The fundamental that I believe holds us back, is our thoughts. These thoughts inevitably create feelings. The thoughts we have about ourselves and who we think we are create a mass of energy/feeling and thereofore re(actions) in us.

An old acting teacher of mine would ask you to finish off the sentences below for the character you were to play...

Sandy feels life is...

Sandy feels work is...

Sandy feels men are... 

These would be the thoughts and then it would create a feeling, that would propel an action. So his idea was to create thought the character had about life/work/men and we would find how these characters acted. Or we would look at the actions a screen writer would indent into a script, work out people who acted a particular way usually felt like (so and so) and people that feel like (so and so) often felt this because their thoughts were (so and so)In doing this work we inevitably had to look at ourselves.  

I was 23 and he asked me to finish off these questions. My answers were... 

Life is unfair

Work is hard

Men are piss takers

We would look at these and he would say that I felt hard done by because I had the thought life was unfair. I felt stressed because I had the thought that work was hard. I felt mugged off because I believed men were piss takers, He would then look at how these feelings would make us act in our lives. 

I would act grumpy because I felt hard done by. I would act lazy because work was too hard, I'd act stand offish because I felt mugged off.

When I was able to break down these initial simple thought processes it made a lot of sense to me that I needed to change my thoughts about these things. He would ask us to go back to the first time I ever felt like "life was unfair" and if we could find it, it was usually enough to realise that we had built patterns up surrounding this one time we had the thought. 

The first time I felt mugged off by a man, I was 4. I was waiting for my dad to pick me up and have me for the weekend. and he didn't show up. I didn't know how to articulate that feeling. But years on, I can remember the essence of how I felt and I know I had never felt it before, but aged four, sitting at the window waiting, I felt mugged off.

Sometimes it was hard to uncover how you truly felt about something. It was hard to be honest with yourself. Especially when we were asked to finish off the sentance "I AM..." 

A way to find out how you feel about yourself was to put ourselves in an imaginary situation. Your in a room with a bunch of people you don't know. You are there for an hour interacting and then you have to go. You leave them all sitting there. What is it you think they will say about you? Out of our group, even the most confident people would come out with insecurities.

My thoughts were that people would think I was boring, a "try hard" and obnoxious. Having this awareness that I felt this way about myself opened up so many realisations. I would play the clown at school because I was so scared of being boring. I would talk down on myself in case people thought I was obnoxious, or I would be stand offish in case people thought I was in fact, trying too hard. It became a mind field of overthinking, but also the thing that would release me from these thoughts was just being aware they were there. Seeing them enabled me to start letting them go. In the sense that if we observe something, if we can see it, then we are not "it". I know this sounds like "hippy dippy" stuff, but either way this resonated with me, therefore It may you, and if it resonates with one person, I feel the post was worth writing.

We cannot be that in which we observe. It is a spiritual principle that arises time and time again in many a self help book. Mooji expresses this here...

You are total unicity beyond duality. That you are. You are so one with yourself that you cannot perceive yourself. You can only imagine that you are other than that. It is like a knife that can cut so many vegetables but cannot cut itself because it is one with itself, or the scale which can weigh so many objects but cannot weigh itself. It is the same with the one supreme Self- the sole Reality, being ever One with itself, it cannot perceive that which it Is; it can only perceive what it is not.

When we can finally detach from the idea we have about who we are because we realise we cannot perceive ourselves, it takes a lot of emphasise off the negative thoughts. And the only reason to start thinking positive thoughts about ourselves (which are still not TRUE as thoughts are not facts) is to create different actions. 

The thought that my body is shit and I hate it, will encourage my actions to be negative towards itself. I will self sabotage, punish, hurt, not look after something I hate, where as if I have the thought that I love my body, it will usually encourage me to treat it well. 

The thought that life is unfair will have my actions always be slightly bitter, or resentful. I may act hard done by, anxious, creating a hostile and moody person, where as If I have the thought that life is great, that life is a blessing, it will make my actions be that of a grateful person. I will act blessed, I will act kindly towards others because I believe the world is a kind to me.

There is nothing in any of this to say that it is easy to change our thoughts. But there is nothing to say it is not doable either. As I said. My natural disposition (because of old patterns built up along the way) are negative thoughts. I have spent the last 6 years trying to undo those and recreate positive ones. When I recently booked an acting job I didn't focus on the inconveniences like I would have done 6 years ago. I focused on on the positives that I get from the job. I also stopped thinking "I couldn't act" and started not having an opinion about it. Doors opened up, energy came in. Light suddenly appeared in that area of life. I didn't suddenly get better at acting. I just stopped beating myself over it. And therefore the universe offered something up. The same goes for weight loss. For career changes. When we let go of negative ideas (or positive ones for that matter) and we create space, things happen. 

I am taking the time to remind myself of this, by writing about it, by discussing it, by becoming aware; to figure out what thoughts I am having that are making my anxiety levels sky rocket. My life is good and I am continuing to write a list of all the things I am grateful for. Gratitude being one of the things Brene Brown talks about as being so important to living a whole hearted life. But I am also taking the time to try and get more perspective, more balance, more structure. As for me, structure and some routine takes away my anxieties about time running out. About not getting to roll out all the ideas I have, about not sharing or connecting with all the people I want to. 

If you are feeling low, anxious, down. if you feel like life sucks, your job sucks, your body sucks, try and figure out the exact thoughts you have about these things, when they first came about and try and subliminally block them out by creating, and forcing new thoughts. Think them, and repeat! Say them out loud, hear them clearly and someday down the line, you will believe these good thoughts, the sort of thoughts Care Bears and My Little Ponies have. How do I know this? Because in the same way we started believing the negatives, we have the same ability to believe the positive ones. Whether we believe that to be true or not, the only way we will ever know is if we try. So as the days go on, and the mind ticks over, I dig deep in myself and trust that happiness is our own choice. A thought that used to scare me, because what if I couldn't/wouldn't make the right choice. Now, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I have a choice (a small, tiny atom in this whole universe, me)has the power to change how I feel.

There are a few reasons why you CAN be a badass and achieve all the things you want to and be the person you want to be: 

*If you can imagine it... it can be so. Things happen, because people believe they can. Until that day, it will be inconceivable. See it, visualise it, and believe in it.

*Because you are you. The only you there is. Unique, and undeniably the only one of your kind. Even if you do something the same as some else, it will still be your version of it. That means you have the world at your finger tips. 

*There is an abundance of everything. An abundance of space for all of our ideas. An abundance of time if you utilise it. An abundance of people willing to hear, connect, share, vibe with your ideas. 

*The universe wants you to do well. Because you are the universe. We are one and the same.

Sometimes the bravest most important thing you can do, is show up

Are you beautiful?

***Just a little side note before I yabber on. I have debated about posting this for days. Not everyone likes honesty, not everyone wants to hear my view point, and it is a touchy subject. A sensitive one. You don't want to say the wrong thing. And then I turned on the telly as I sat down to redraft and there was a debate going on on one of those morning shows... "Are you beautiful?" And I thought, ya know what, that's gotta be a sign right? SO I re named the post and held my breath and went forth... 

Someone I know wrote a really honest post the other day that touched me. I related to it strongly and felt like I got to know her a little better...

This rung true... For the longest time

I wanted to be the girl with the great personality that people wanted to be around because I was funny and wise.

She also talked of how that changed somewhere along the way and therefore begun the high expectations she had on herself to look a certain way, be a certain weight. The pressure she felt to be beautiful and skinny and that this had topsy turvied with her way of thinking and self worth.

Whether it be the guy that needs to be seen as 'strong' or a woman that needs to be seen as 'beautiful' I know I have had these expectations of myself. Put upon myself. Ones that I will never reach, not permanently, or at all. As I have gotten older I get get the impression that there is an importance not to BE strong or beautiful, but perhaps to FEEL strong and beautiful, and to redefine those expectations as they are not the same thing.

My own journey and my relationship with my body, and image, with the way I look and the way I perceive myself along with the way people perceive me, has been tangled with a mix of emotion from as long as I can remember. Mentioned

here

and

here.

From the moment I stood in Tammy girl changing rooms trying on a crop top and denim shorts and knowing that I dint quite look like the other girls... from the time that I over heard a so called friend tell a boy I fancied that I had  no waist, thin lips and saggy boobs... or that time the chubby boy at school asked me out, and after saying yes, an hour later saying he was joking, From the time I over heard a boy that had seen my boobs, tell his mate that I had burger nipples... I didn't clock that these were defining moments in my thought processes. Not for so many years to come. I didn't realise the negative connotations that were associated with these incidents that all had a part to play in my perception of how I looked to the outside world and how I looked to the person standing looking back at me in the mirror.

The summer of ninety seven, whilst Alanis Morrisette's 'Jagged Little Pill' was playing, I stood in the mirror, naked. My half filled, pointy, boobs and over sized nipples staring at me in the face, obtrusively. I blushed, despite standing there alone. My fanny covered in what looked like a comb over, thin, soft, long (new) pubes. I looked odd. I had not noticed them properly until this particular day. I had sat in the bath and watched them as they had floated to the top, frizzy and coarse making their way through the bubbles. These pubes had offended me. Standing there in my full length mirror, my body no longer looked like my own. It was now unrecognisable.  I no longer looked like the person I felt I was on the inside. I had started to shave my legs because the fit boy from the year below had pointed out that my legs were hairy. I'd begged my mum to let me shave,

'Pleaaasseee, I couldn't possibly be the hairy gross beast out of all my friends.'

I had started to use hair mouse and slick down my frizzy 'halo hair' that I had in every school picture until I was twelve. I suddenly had less and less eyebrows after getting pluck happy with the tweezers and then one evening going all out with the Immac that left me with about four eyebrow hairs. Honestly Cara Deleveign would be distraught.

Hairy fanny, bald legs, nearly bald forehead. Check!

I was now a teenager. Hairless (in most places), frizzyless and fatless and far more Self concious, insecure and uncomfortable in my own skin  than I had ever been before and about to embark on a long journey of self obsession and comparison. Loosing weight had suddenly made me visible and judgemental. Of myself, and of others. I was now riddled with ugly thoughts.

It's like I went through puberty, got lost along the way and when I came out the other side I felt so unsure of who I really was that it took me a long time to find that ten year old 'honey monster' that caught myself in the mirror and said'You look pretty today Danielle'

Without judgement. Without comparison. That ten year old statement wasn't coming from a place of ego, as I was to later adopt, but more from a place of love. I had 'felt' pretty. And it would be a long time before I felt it acceptable to'feel'pretty again.

At around puberty, after not being invited to the popular boys birthday, after not being chased in kiss chase. Ever. After seeing the admiration people had for the new pretty girl with big boobs. After being told I was pretty since loosing weight.

It suddenly felt like a necessity to be pretty to keep it up. Looking pretty was the new best thing; right after the discovery of the

secret acoustic bonus track on Alanis' s album. 

I wanted to be chased in kiss chase. I wanted the fit boy with a six pack and 'backstreet boys' style curtains, to ask me out. I did. I wanted the boys to think I was pretty too. It's hard to admit that I wanted this, out loud. I feel shame in that. I felt shame in that. The judgey part of me, as I got older, didn't want to be the girl that needed to be beautiful. But some how, I did.

The shame

 (a talk from Brene Brown on shame)

I built up around the idea of being pretty grew the older I got. What pretty meant to people. There was guilt and resistance. I felt embarrassed if I looked pretty/felt pretty. It felt uncomfortable. It felt awkward. The realisation that all those years when I had felt it, or looked in the mirror with no judgement even. No one had let me in on the secret that frizzy hair, bushy eyebrows, roley bits, thin lips, saggy boobs, legs that touched, a waist that didn't go inwards, was not conventionally pretty... I suddenly felt lost, unidentifiable. I felt like a fraud. Someone decided that now, with only six weeks turn around, I was welcomed into a new way of life, a new group of people. People I thought I'd fitted in with before, only to discover I hadn't, not truly. 'uh uh ahh... you can't sit with us' Yet just like that, over one summer I now had the golden ticket. I was allowed at the back of the bus apparently. The fit boy did seem to fancy me. I think he did, I hoped he did. Did he? Or maybe he'd found out who I really was.

A fraud. And just just like that, I felt like I betrayed who I had once thought I was.

The ultimate dilemma I had discovered was... 'feeling' pretty, having a high self esteem, it came with a whole load of baggage and a truck load of judgement!!!

I had/have always been the girl that wanted to be fun, care free, free spirited, open, kind, intelligent and didn't take herself too seriously... Ya know the one, the 'cool' girl they portray in the films that doesn't have too many friends, but she doesn't care, she has a select few of really close ones, she reads a lot, she knows a lot about a lot, she isn't interested in boys because, well, she is just soo self assured that 'who needs a guy to interrupt her school work and her time she spends playing basketball with her dad out the front of her house.' You know, the girl that wears trainers on her wedding day and never does her hair because, mehhh, she doesn't care (and it just so happens that she always looks like she's just stepped from a Loreal advert). The girl that wore dungarees, but looked 'cute' instead of like a removal van driver. 

(I may have watched way to many 90's american films)

I wanted to be pretty,(some days I thought I was/some days I didn't. It was irrelevant)but I didn't want people to think I thought I was, I always felt like that was an arrogant way of thinking. Do not think for one second that you are attractive, that, is ugly in itself.

Half of me wanting to go back to being unnoticed.  Or to a world of no second guessing or worrying about what people thought. Not caring what people thought. And then the other half of me wanted to be beautiful, to be a member of a group of girls that wore Miss Selfridge boot cut jeans and looked really good in PE shorts with my T shirt twizzled and tucked under at the front to create a crop top. I wanted to be part of the club where the cool boys across the road would gather and whisper and then one of their friends would come over and whisper to another of our friends and she would squeal and clap and then whisper something back and he would return to his good looking moppy haired gang and watch as the bubbly, excited girl would come back to our group and look at all of us and point... and you would hold your breath and suck in and hope that you had your skirt rolled up right and that your smelly armpits weren't noticeable to anybody else and you would pretend to jauntily stand there, 'casj',  uninterested until... 'YOU... He fancies you' and even if you were a part of this gang, this girl group, this members only swaray... you never really felt like you were. Even if the massive WWF finger had pointed at you, there was still this seed of doubt, worry, angst. Was he joking?  Was this all a massive joke?

OK so this is bloody mental. At best, it's just plain exhausting.

So you grow up... you stand in the mirror, naked. a lot. Your small pointy boobs (no bigger than they had been in ninety seven, your waist the same proportion, your fanny, well, far better groomed, your forehead, there is far more eye brow and despite any of that, I see someone far more recognisable. Likeable. You have begun to accept that this is you. I do not see a troll doll (unless it is first thing in the morning and then you can bet my jewelled little belly button that my eyes are just as puffy and my hair just as big). I stand there and accept I am not Belle or Ariel or Jasmine either. I also, now I am older, have realised that these ideals don't really exist. Jasmines thick hair is achieved with hair extensions and those massive Disney eyes, you can buy a two quid set of lashes. Ariel's cute pert boobs... well some are blessed... those characters are somebodies ideals. That are achievable. Down at super drug perhaps more easily than deep in our thoughts. As yall know by now, I have a million and one insecurities. I play with the donut fat around my belly, I pose in the mirror to create a thigh gap, I draw on brows so they look better, I bleach the tash, bronze the face.'

I guess now, there is no time for so much horrendous scrutinising.

For standing in the mirror for hours on end, wishing that my bottom would  be plumper, or my boobs would be a bit pertier, or that my waist would be a lot teenier.

I have met people, or see people that I would like to emanate more than J lo or a Disney princess. People that fascinate me. Conventionally 'beautiful' or not. People I am in awe of. The people I grew up wanting to be just like... Bette Midler, Julie Walters, Dawn French, The spice girls... Or now the people I would love to be best friends with, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Caitlin Moran, Emma Stone, Dawn O'Porter.

What's horrific is I've given pretty women a hard time. I had it in my head for a long time, that if you look good, your less likely to be funny. If you pull all the boys, you are hardly going to be interesting enough to write a book I might like.

If you watch what you eat, your as boring as David Cameron at a Dodgers game... I spent years wanting to make sure I was not as boring as a prime minister at a sports game. That I was open, approachable. Deep down, I felt that 'playing into looking good' was offensive. Arrogant. Obnoxious.

I spent years being so unsure of who I was and what I really thought, and I never wanting to give away the uncertainty, Which in turn made me way less honest, real or likeable. Always relying on other peoples perceptions of myself to feel good, rather than being the person who 'I' liked.

Unfortunately surrounded by a society that expects us look a certain way, to own our beauty inside and out, but berates us for putting up a #selfie... Own it... but not socially. I also feel pressure NOT to conform. Be funnier, be more opinionated, be more laid back, be a feminist. Say no to J los booty video, say no to lipstick, brushing your hair, wearing short shorts. Be the cool girl. Be the quirky girl. We are surrounded by a society that says, 'love yourself' but not too much. Embrace being YOU. But don't be TOO much. Be goofy, but if you look groomed, pretend you don't think you are.

Fucking Nora

... what if, just maybe... my biggest fear was that I wasn't able to tick any/all of these boxes. What if my biggest fear was that I was just mediocre. Boring. Not super pretty, not super funny, not super intelligent. Not super anything. What if I were ordinary? Normal? Was that enough?

There will be days when my tash is so dark It looks like a 40 year old mans bum fluff. Or my eyebrows are so unkempt I look like Bert from sesame street. What I hope I instil in my daughter, is the power as a girl/woman to feel OK with that. To worry not whether people think she is (any adjective) enough, and to be more concerned with how she feels, how she makes them feel. How she treats them. If I have a daughter I hope to tell her one day, when she is standing in the mirror wondering if she is pretty or not (as my mum did, yet other stuff got in the way), I want to tell her she is beautiful. With or without make up. But if she has a kind soul and a smiley face, If she is kind to herself the way she is to others, she will feel content and less concerned with the horrendous crap above that had been so crippling in allowing me to be the best me I could be, because I was having ugly thoughts, not lovely thoughts... I am still on this journey. The days when I don't say hello, or I seem quiet, or closed off, those are usually the days I feel insecure or not good enough. 

Here is Brene Browns talk on vulnerability

... worth a watch

 Ten year old me

I feel prettiest when I am not being mean and judgemental. To myself or others. I feel prettiest when I feel comfortable in my own skin. When I am true to myself. When I am honest with myself, with others. I feel prettiest when I smile at someone and they smile back. I feel prettiest when I share my fears and people say they 'get it'