I answered the door to the postman this morning wearing tracksuit bottoms that are too short for me, my boyfriend’s enormous fleece and no make-up.
And it made me realise how far I’ve come.
As a child and teenager, I was so self-conscious and socially anxious that the things other people were doing on a daily basis were too difficult for me.
To give you a few examples…
I wouldn’t go to the hairdressers
My hair is naturally curly, so it gets quite knotty, especially when wet. Every time I went to get it cut as a child, the hairdresser would comment on how knotty it was and make such a performance of detangling it that I eventually stopped going altogether.
In the end, my lovely aunt had to cut my hair for me.
I wouldn’t order my own food in restaurants
Even as a teenager, I just refused. My mum, dad or sister had to ask me what I wanted before the waiter or waitress came to the table and then speak for me.
I wouldn’t talk in lessons
My reports said the same thing every year:
‘Megan is a very conscientious student but doesn’t contribute to class discussions’.
I wouldn’t answer the phone or make calls
Even if I knew who was calling, I’d pass the phone to someone else. As for calling someone myself? No chance.
I wouldn’t let anyone see me without a full face of make-up
As a teenager, I had such low self-esteem that I refused to be seen without make-up by anyone other than my immediate family.
My first boyfriend never saw me without make-up.
We were together nearly two years.
But here’s the good bit!
Thanks to a combination of forcing myself to be brave, having an amazing support network around me and the simple act of growing older and wiser, I’ve improved so much in my twenties! A few examples…
- Not only do I go to the hairdressers semi-regularly, but I draw attention to the fact that my hair is crazy knotty and make a joke of it.
- I order my own food in restaurants and even have the confidence to request the dressing on the side, no olives, five scoops of ice-cream etc.
- At a tutorial for my Open University degree, I forced myself to contribute to the discussion. My heart was pounding and I had to clear my throat ten million times before I spoke, but I did it.
- I was a receptionist for 20 months, so I kind of had to get over my phone phobia…
- I’m far more relaxed in terms of make-up. In fact, my boyfriend has the joy of seeing me fresh-faced on a daily basis and hasn’t vomited yet (and neither did the postman…)
- I recently became the newest (and youngest!) member of a local Writers’ Workshop and managed to read my work aloud. A few years ago, I wouldn’t even have entered the room.
The point is, I think we can be a bit hard on ourselves sometimes when really we should be celebrating how far we’ve come!
My achievements will seem tiny to everyone else, but to me they’re huge, and that’s what matters.