Often I’m moved to write blogs not because something interesting has happened in my life – but because occasionally I feel there’s something more important to say.
A lot of the time this is because of private conversations and this leaves me with something of a quandary – because I don’t betray people’s trust and I certainly don’t write about them without explicit permission.
Their lives are their own.
Although some of the tales that motivate me to write are not mine to tell occasionally the sentiment behind them is universal and makes me feel that to do so is important so I’ll try and write today with the privacy of (many) others in mind.
Forgive me therefore if a certain generic vagueness on my part seems apparent because in this case it’s necessary.
Although this isn’t really about me there have been times in the past where it could easily have been – so I will begin by using myself as an example.
When I met and got to know my partner (who is not the subject of my thoughts in this particular case but is a good illustration) one of the things that initially surprised me was how long she’d been single.
It was roughly the same time as myself and this was (like me) completely by choice.
I wasn’t sure how this was possible at the time. She was lovely and instantly made me feel comfortable in her presence.
When she smiled her whole head lit up like a light bulb and made me grin right back at her.
Now – we tell ourselves convenient fictions at times. Mine for many years was that I was too big to have a partner.
It was a lie of course because all you had to do was (at least before the show was cancelled) turn on Jeremy Kyle and you could see that it doesn’t matter how big or small you are there is someone willing to be with everyone.
Accepting a partner on this basis this may not yield the right person for the right reasons – but if you prefer company to loneliness then compromises can easily be made.
Sometimes this is a conscious decision to accept second (or even third) best, and at others it’s an unconscious one.
Sometimes we don’t realise why we chose who we did until it’s too late.
Occasionally (particularly after a significant change such as weight loss) it takes us a while to realise why we share our days with someone that may not be the one for us.
Life in this respect is always a learning curve. Most of us don’t get it right first time – and that’s ok.
Personally I chose some time ago to be single instead of being alone in a relationship.
When I recognised the same trait in my current partner I instantly felt more attracted to her.
Here was a person that also chose occasional independent loneliness instead of feeling isolated in a relationship with someone she didn’t love – and that was compelling to me because it meant that when she decided to choose me (and vice versa) there was a damn good reason.
It meant there was a connection and a respect between us that seemed as if it was already underlined in bold ink and it also meant that if neither of us got what we needed from out relationship then it would not last long.
When two people who have successfully managed single lives for years decide to change their mutual status quo it’s profound because what those people have already proven is that they are strong enough to go through life alone.
When you meet and enter into a partnership with someone like this you know that if you’re an idiot, if you take them for granted, if you mess about or if the love is not real that they can (and probably will) walk away.
They can re-use the self belief and empowerment that they had before you came along, rekindle the flame of their personal independence and move right along.
It works both ways.
I had to accept that I need a lot from a partner and that I’m damn well deserving of it.
I deserve to be wanted.
I deserve to be loved.
I need to be thought about as special enough to make someone’s heart skip a beat for no reason other than I crossed their mind on a busy day at work.
We all need these things in a partnership – and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have them.
The motivation for me writing this comes from not one but several people and this is because over the last few years losing weight, speaking in public, being active in social media and being MOTY (meaning I’ve spoken to a frankly absurd number of people I’ve never met before and probably will never meet again) I have come across lots of individuals who don’t yet fully understand the importance of being single rather than being in an unhappy relationship.
Something that a lot of them have in common – and a worry they all seem to share (at least when it comes to weight loss) is to do with excess skin.
I’ve been asked about it over and over again and what I plan to do about it.
Interestingly the question is often framed within an expectation that once you’ve lost all your weight then the very next step you’d logically take is to undergo surgery.
Many TV shows seem to popularise this and many celebrities seem to do the same.
Somehow we’ve come to think that this is completely normal and consequence free – however the surgery (if you look into it) is not a quick and easy procedure.
It’s dangerous, can be life threatening – and it carries with it major chances of serious complications.
A tummy tuck (if that’s what you plan to undergo) has a seriously long recovery period and its execution is brutal.
It’s also not free on the nhs – and once you start where do you stop?
Create a clean spot in the middle of a dirty kitchen and see if you can resist cleaning the rest up. If you’re like me I bet you won’t be able to.
When I’m asked about MY skin however people aren’t really enquiring about what I look like under my clothes.
I’m not that interesting.
What they’re really saying when they approach me is ‘I’m terrified that no one will love me if I look this way in the mirror and I don’t know how to deal with that. Please help me.’
I get it.
I really really do.
We all think that for one reason or another someone will struggle to accept us for who we are.
Cosmetic surgeons prey like vultures on people like us whilst social media and glossy magazines fuel our collective sense of worthlessness when we look in the mirror.
We’re not pert enough. Our noses aren’t straight. Our teeth aren’t white enough, our lips aren’t as plump as they should be or we have laughter lines on our foreheads and around our eyes.
We are not perfect.
The secret is that none of us are and we don’t have to be.
Perfection does not exist – it’s simply a construct that we use to beat ourselves up with.
We can’t all look the same, with perfect boobs or skin that’s tighter than a snare drum – and neither should we try to.
Instead we all (especially those who have lost or are still losing weight) should aspire to do is make the best of who we are.
To do this we need to begin to love what’s inside – and recognise that by caring about and accepting your inner self you find confidence to speak to others.
This above all else is fundamentally the most attractive thing that you can bring with you into a partnership.
How many times have you seen someone wearing a ridiculous outfit that you’d never wear in a million years, but even though they have chosen to look LOUD they own that look?
You may not want to wear the same apparel but you admire them don’t you?
They don’t care what you think and they like the way they look.
They’re comfortable in their own skin (which is probably also not perfect) and they stand before you neither bothered if you agree with their choice of clothes or diminished if you don’t.
You suddenly realise you like them because they’re confident.
By this point their weight, stretch marks, laughter lines or anything else about them rapidly becomes irrelevant.
They’ve hooked us (either as a friend or prospective partner) with their inner confidence and how they use it to light up a room.
When they do they seem to effortlessly get our attention.
As hard as it’s been to deal with from a confidence perspective I’ve never wanted to remove my skin or enhance any other part of myself with surgery.
For better or worse I am what I am.
Furthermore (and this is important) I do not accept this has anything to do with whether I’m a man or a woman.
I’ve been told more times than I care to hear that it’s different for women – that men aren’t judged the same way.
Only up to a point can I accept this.
Sometimes there are different standards set for different sexes and it’s galling when they become apparent.
David Cameron wore the same suit for practically the whole time he was a Prime Minister and no-one cared – yet Theresa May was lambasted continually for her clothing choices.
One might argue that the media should have spent more time either intelligently focusing on them being sub par politicians or treating both equally – but I won’t delve any deeper into that.
My point is more fundamental.
We all end up eventually (either metaphorically or in actuality) naked in front of someone whether we do so as a man or a woman.
At that point being male or female doesn’t matter – because by the time we present ourselves in a swimming bath, a doctor’s surgery or a bedroom we can choose to either apologise for who we are and what we look like or we can say proudly ‘I don’t care – because this is me and whatever you think about how I look is irrelevant because I know I have value.’
This is just as true incidentally if you’re a disabled man or woman as it is if you’re an able bodied one.
Your confidence (or lack of it) will ultimately become the deciding factor in the level of happiness you’re eventually going to achieve in life.
It’s something of a lonely path at times however and this is not an always an easy choice to make – because it means that you will have to occasionally say ‘I prefer to be without someone’ rather than accepting a person into your life that does not love you and does not make you happy.
The trade off is that in the meantime the confidence we can all achieve attracts new people to us and because of this we already stand a better chance of leading better lives.
Your self worth will inspire others, and that they in turn will probably inspire you right back again – and that may be just when you need it the most.
Your quality of life will improve if you choose to love yourself before expecting it from others.
If you make this your mission in life then eventually you will have love in your life that does not require compromise.
You will not have to accept second best and there will always be a person to give you a hug – even if for a time that is not in the form of an intimate relationship.
There are a lot of people in the world and more ways than ever to connect to them.
Everyone can find friends on their journey.
Learning to love and cherish yourself may not come easy to you – but then nothing worth having ever does.
The truth is though that you can’t ignore the need to achieve this state of mind – and I would argue that you can’t do without it.
You’re a better human being if you take time to cultivate this side of your personality and it’s never too late to start doing so.
If you don’t have confidence then now is the time to start working on it.
Look in the mirror – put on a ridiculous shirt or blouse or go into a shop and try on something LOUD.
Walk out of the door in what makes you happy and remember it does not matter.
If what’s seen by everyone when you step outside in your bright top doesn’t worry you then extend that to your skin.
It’s the one thing you can never take off.
You can’t hang it on a peg and you should never be made to feel that you should remove it or that there’s something wrong with you because of the way you look.
As you sit now you’re as nature intended and whilst you can take steps with exercise to improve who you are there is no scenario that should involve you cutting off, trimming or tucking anything because another person tells you that you need to in order to keep them in your life.
You don’t need to get rid of skin – you need to get rid of the shallow idiot that doesn’t love you for the frankly amazing person that you already are.
I’ll be honest though and say that (even now) I occasionally have days where my confidence is in the toilet. Sometimes (although not currently) every waking moment seems like a struggle to accept the way that I look in a mirror.
One thing however is true above all else.
I would rather be alone than in an unhappy relationship – and that will never change.
Thankfully I’m not alone.
I’ve found someone that makes me feel both happy and accepted – but there are many I’ve met who have not and still struggle with this.
From time to time people reach out to me – and individually I regularly try to help – but for once I’m shouting this collectively to all of you that are reading.
If you don’t have this in your current relationship then you deserve more.
Believe it can happen, work towards loving who you are – and you will achieve it it.
At the end of the day you’re worth it.