I’ve always apologised for being me. I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin. All my life, I’ve fit myself into boxes, the student, the daughter, the friend, were some of the labels I adopted and when I was cast in these roles within these scenarios, I would adapt to please the people around me and suit the situation I found myself in.
Throughout my life, I’ve encountered mentors who put a mirror in front of me. My favourite Teacher at Primary School was Mrs Scott, a warm and kind-hearted woman, who looked past my outside reflection, my innate shyness, and saw the real me. She encouraged my creativity and every week we would get the chance to write a story. It was my favourite time of the week. I would sit in a dream like state, sleepy after drinking my bottle of milk, and my pencil would fly across the page as I wrote the faerie tales in my head, never wanting to stop and only reluctantly handing my jotter in when asked. Then every week, without fail, Mrs Scott, would lean back against her worn, wooden desk, smile at the class and say she was reading another story written by me. The class of 10 years old would laugh at my story, especially when I mentioned them by name and the dragons that visited our playground. I would sit, smiling with pinked cheeks as I listened to the response of my very first readers.
Time passed and life distracted me, in the form of exams, adventures in admin and my career with Police Scotland. Then I had the blip, got better and was forced to look at myself properly for the first time. I had to look in the mirror at my true reflection, in fact, there was no way I was getting to move past it and beyond it until I did. If I didn’t I could never be fully free from the past that held me back.
So I looked into the mirror and finally accepted every part of me. My mind races at a hundred miles all at once. Intellect and words turn me on. I’m interested in everything to the point where no topic is off limits. I fidget incessantly. My twin traits of shyness and exuberance constantly fight for dominance. I rush in where Angels fear to tread, never once regretting the decision but perhaps the way I went about it. My indecision is final. I don’t like to commit to one choice to the exclusion of everything else. I’ve an absurd childlike sense of humour and laugh my ass off at the most absurd things. When words and stories rush though me, I have to write them down or take a photograph, no matter who I’m with or where I am. And to those who trust enough to let close, I love them fiercely, even when I have to let them go. I live with hope in my heart that what I want most will come to me at the right time. I’m complicated and a walking contradiction, and finally, after years of apologising, I’ve finally accepted who I am. In fact, I quite like the disarray that is me.
In the midst of looking at my reflection, I took a few days away. My adventures in wanderlust have continued to assail me, and I can’t go a few days without jumping in the car or on a train and searching for what’s out there waiting to be discovered. My family and friends raise their eyebrows when I mention I am going away on my own. One of the many lessons the blip taught me was to feel comfortable with my own company. In fact, I enjoy it. My few days away, felt like weeks, as I wandered around the historical house hotel, enjoyed afternoon tea beside a roaring fire, and discovered the American redwood from the 1800s in the Chinese garden. I ventured into the around the local area, visiting a bookshop in an old mill and antique shops filled with timeless treasures. Heading reluctantly home, I drove past the Hermitage, planning to go in to say goodbye and thank you for the pictures of the story it gave me that become my fantasy faerie tale. Driving past, I realised I didn’t have to goodbye, because I already had. I said goodbye the moment I decided to share my creation with the world.
Back home, I realised my journey, the one I‘ve been on my whole life, is nearing an end. The irony is that no one ever asked me to be their reflection. This was my choice. But I wasn’t strong enough to understand that then. Sometimes, without realising, you need to go away to come back, to learn what you are need to enable you to move forward. The clarity I was seeking has been right in front of me the whole time. All I ever needed to do was look in the mirror and accept myself as the complex, quirky character I am and find peace with it. The person I needed to stop apologising to all along had been myself. Even physically I’ve changed, I feel like a light has gone on inside of me and I smile and laugh given a moments notice. I‘m living and it’s joyous. The power of accepting who you are is immeasurable. The closer I get to my dream, the stronger I am.
The power of accepting who you are is immeasurable. The closer I get to my dream, the stronger I am.Lisa Young
So if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; embrace your true reflection. Stand for your truth and embrace the unique, amazing individual that you are. Turn your back on the self-doubts, cut away their illusions and shed their imprint. Celebrate you. Be who you are and never say sorry again, even if it’s only a secret whisper to yourself. I won’t.