I’d like to think I’m pretty good at being complimentary about other people, but I doubt I’m alone in having difficulty blowing my own trumpet a lot of the time. I think a lot of us probably have that internal nagging voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that everyone’s looking at us, that we haven’t done the best we could have done. And that’s not nice.
But reading the recent press questioning the public’s apparent dislike of ‘confident’ women such as Strictly’s Alexandra Burke and X Factor’s Grace, it’s no surprise that we feel like we should put ourselves down before building ourselves up. It comes back to the idea built upon age-old, inherent stereotypes that women are ‘bossy’ whilst men are ‘assertive’; women are ‘smug’ whilst men are ‘confident’. Why do we have such a problem with liking ourselves?!
My physio (who, by his own admission is not a normal physio) is a big advocate of being your own best friend; sees a lot of correlation between physical pain and how we feel about ourselves. He recently asked me to undertake the slightly unusual exercise of asking my friends what they like about me. Not exactly a normal or comfortable question to ask, but I received a wide range of responses, all equally lovely. One friend said “your eyebrows”, and I will absolutely take that! But my good friend Julia went above and beyond; provided me with a whole article’s worth of compliments that made me absolutely bawl my eyes out.
So I thought I would share that here…
SENSE OF HUMOUR
You are incredibly funny, and not sure if you realise it. You regularly have me chuckling away, and have a way of phrasing things that is just perfectly timed. I’ve laughed so much with you and know you can always bring light to any situation.
BRAVERY AND STRENGTH
I’ve yet to meet anyone (and don’t think I ever will) who has handled pain and grief with such dignity and bravery as you have. Rarely getting upset and having those moments that most of us would have, it’s so incredibly amazing how you handle things, which shows such strength of character. Strength I don’t think you consider yourself to have. I’m always in constant battle with myself about whether I did enough for you, am I mentioning my own Mum too much, focusing to try and make things normal or is that the wrong thing. It’s so lovely hearing you talk fondly about your mum, whether it through childhood, past experiences or just the odd reference. You’ve always got on and focused on the positives like family, which is so unbelievably admirable. You show incredible strength for your Dad.
SENSE OF FAMILY AND SUPPORTIVENESS
Your support for your family is incredible, with unwavering loyalty and love. Always a happy atmosphere and getting along, with such fun times had every time you go home. This is a rare commodity and you are so supportive to all of your family members.
You are very good at your job;this is really clear and you always come home with stories where I can tell that you are clear and concise with what you want to do and where you want to be. Everyone respects you and trusts you implicitly.
FRIENDLINESS AND KINDNESS
Everyone I know enjoys your company because you are kind and great fun to be around. Always up for an adventure, I’ve enjoyed so many of our trips together. Doing little things like leaving me a note welcoming me back after a trip is so thoughtful and kind. You’re a great friend.
The fact that you have been bridesmaid a few times now is also testament to that!
ELOQUENT AND INTELLIGENT
You have an amazing way with words! You should be a writer, and I fully back and support you on that! Always eager to read the next book and broaden your horizons. Extremely intelligent about life and current affairs.
You are always incredibly patient and listen to my many many moanings! You’ll always humour me when I come back with the next ridiculous story or drama no matter how silly it may seem. And you chip in with great support and feedback; I value this so much and it’s a tough trait to master.
GREAT FUN AND GREAT HOUSEMATE
We have so much fun and I love our post day catch ups over the latest Netflix drama! If we stay awake that is! Never any judgement over any aspect of life or anything at all!
Right, pep talk time! I’m also going to say that I think you have so much to be confident about, and it makes me upset to see you doubting yourself at times and worried about what everyone thinks about you (we all do don’t we!) You are stronger than you think, you really are. Go into a crowd and not worry that you think people are looking at you, take that leap of faith and challenge your independence. I’d like to leave you with the motto ‘what’s the worst that could happen’?!
You’ve accomplished so much in your life and should be proud of that. Try not to let negative thoughts creep in, know that I (and all of us) believe in you as a person and how great you are. Sometimes you just need to hear this from people: please let this be a boost to your confidence and clear any self-doubt. Always your biggest champion and I’ll always be there to support you in everything.
[Pause for a Noah’s Ark-esque flood of tears…]
I was so taken aback by how wonderful that list was to read, and by the fact that Julia had taken the time to write it. I’m so lucky to have people in my life who appreciate me.
I didn’t share this so you could all see what a wonderful person I am (well, okay, maybe 1% of me did), but to share the importance of recognising the good in ourselves, of seeing the wonderful things as well as the flaws.
So give it a go: ask your friends and family what they like about you. I guarantee they’ll all have something lovely to say. And now the hard part (and I’m talking to myself here): believe it! Let’s try and be our own best friends in 2018. Because,to quote the great philosopher RuPaul Charles, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?!”.