A Beginner’s Guide to Confidence

Confidence is key, that’s what so many women’s magazines/style gurus/celebrities tell us and sure, there’s something in the rhetoric. However, is there really a way to become confident if it doesn’t come naturally? I must say I don’t really know what I’m talking about, there’s no secret recipe but I can tell you how I got here, by way of a thousand tears, some self-realisation and a whole lot of tying jumpers around my waist to hide my enormous junk.

People compliment me on my confidence all the time which is nice to hear but means one thing as far as I’m concerned: “You are so confident, despite everything”. I’m not being needlessly cruel to myself but let’s face it, I don’t look like a model, do I? I’m short, round, ginger and over 40 – I might not change a thing about the way I look but I definitely do not fit the ‘ideal’. So where the heck do I get off not giving a fuck?

Take up space, wear what you want and never, ever apologise for being here

The thing is, I do give a fuck and I also don’t. I’ve learnt the hardest lesson of my life now and that’s that I deserve to be here, even in my capacity as a fat middle-aged woman. I’m allowed to love myself with ferocity, I’m allowed to demand respect and I’m definitely allowed to wear fitted jumpsuits and enjoy the fuck out of fashion. How I got here was via a lot of reading, following fat activists and feminists on Twitter and slowly allowing myself to heal from a lifetime of bullshit from every corner. Diet culture, fashion magazines, adverts on the TV – they sell us one beauty ideal and although I know things are changing, they are changing slowly.

A few years ago something in me clicked into place and I no longer felt the need to beat myself up. I started to wear the clothing I wanted to and I started to relish myself. Obviously there are days when the confidence fails or I have a melt-down because I can’t find the thing I want to wear (hello work’s Christmas do last Friday!) but you’re damn right I’m as confident as I can be. I’ve earned the right.

What are your thoughts?

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Nap Queen

I love to sleep. I rarely lie in past 9 on the weekend but I am partial to an afternoon nap and truth be told if I know this is a viable option, I will look forward to it until the moment I can slip my clothes off and climb beneath the duvet. The absolute decadence of adding a hot bath into this mix is next level bliss – and I suppose it’s the so-called naughtiness of sleeping during the day that makes this all seem so thrilling.

My only issue is that I always sleep too long and wake up grumpier than Godzilla and with even less grace. Heaven help my loved ones if they try to talk to me post-nap. I need another 30 minutes of total isolation to get myself together. Varying reports from various sources (e.g. fellow nap queens) state 40 minutes is the perfect length to avoid the beast (hence 40 winks) but another friend swears down that it’s actually 22. I tried that on Saturday but slept through my alarm and clocked in two hours instead. Then had to have an angry bath to pull myself together.

One of the things I find hard in my household is that my loved one wakes extremely early and then shames me if I don’t do the same. In jest obviously but he does say he spends hours in the morning just waiting for me to wake up (which might explain why he’s so irritating when I do). Then when I want to nap in the afternoon he doesn’t get that either – so I have to take naps feeling slightly guilty and it’s not on. I’m very vocal that this isn’t my problem and if I want a nap I’m taking one but why is taking time out to rest a bad thing?

This goes back to the people who get all pissy with you when you tell them you’ve done fuck all all weekend and couldn’t be happier. They’re all shooketh because they’ve climbed a mountain/been to a festival/built a house for underprivileged teenagers – and what have you done? Watched almost two seasons of American Horror Story, written three film reviews and NAPPED thankyouverymuch!

I’m a homebody anyway and I try to listen to my body and my mind when they tell me they want a time out. I’m not sleeping because I’m lazy or I don’t have anything better to do – I’m giving myself a chance to recharge so I can be better when I’m not resting. Whether this actually works is another matter but it makes me feel better and I won’t be ashamed. Other people have always got an opinion but I love the balance I have in my life – I love that I know when I desperately need time to myself and when I want to see people. I love my own company and I love to nest like a kitten.

If I could celebrate right now with a nap, I would! 💤🛌

Ageing

I posted this on Instagram late Saturday night in a moment of candidness and it got quite a heartwarming response. So I thought, why not share it here? It’s one of the things I think of the most at the moment, the relentless passing of time and how it affects my self-esteem.

I know it’s not something I can stop and I know we all feel this way from time to time, or will feel that way, it’s just a subject close to my heart. So sue me.

IMG_20180217_221136_012You know something? It’s hard getting older. It’s nice getting older but it’s also incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact that you’re not the young sprite you used to be. I’m insecure about being over ten years older than a lot of the people in my life but I like the variety and I feel more energetic and lucky to be able to learn from them too, I would never change it.

I mention my age a lot like a proper grandma but I wouldn’t change it. I’m mostly comfortable in my own skin and it’s so important to embrace who you are. I got to this place via a hundred funny stories, some loss, hardship and good old-fashioned love. Not to mention with (a lot) of help from my friends. Life is amazing and beautiful and it’s mainly down to the people you surround yourself with.

I wouldn’t change a thing, for all the tea in China. And I really love tea. ❤

What are your thoughts?

Anxiety, my old friend

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I’ve decided that it’s time I was a little more honest with myself, and whoever reads these posts, from now on.

To be clear, I don’t think I present too false an image of my life. What you see is pretty much what you get, bar the filters I slap on my tired old selfies on the daily.  I choose not to go in on work or things that are happening that suck but that’s because I’m an optimist and prefer to think positively. Those times pass and I get through them, as we all tend to do. So what’s the point of dwelling on them?

But over the last year or so my anxiety has been out of control and I’m going to start talking about it because it has become such a big part of my life. I need to work it outward basically.

Film reviews and other topics will continue as normal, but I will be exercising a more ‘honest feelings’ policy around here.  Skip if you’re not into it, I understand.

I’m not good enough

I don’t know when I start freaking the fuck out in my mind but I would swear I wasn’t an anxious child. I’ve always been sensitive but I don’t think I had anymore self-doubt than my friends or the other people around me.

As a young adult I did crazy brave things and even at rock bottom, in the midst of my very worst period, I was fearless enough to (eventually) say fuck it and live in a new city alone, with no concern for the future.

Can I blame my bad relationship for my anxiety now? I don’t think I can. He made me walk on egg shells for six years and I always feel sorry for taking up space, talking out of turn – most days for simply existing. That lot is firmly his fault but the anxiety I have now feels different.

Anxiety ruins my evenings and stops me sleeping at night. I swear down every single person I encounter on certain days hates me and I have upset them irretrievably somehow. Not only that but I’m a total failure with no hope for the future and I will never make anything of my life. I actually believe more often that not that I bring nothing of worth to anybody.

I tell myself I’m no good, not worthy of a better job, say, of earning good money because I didn’t go to University, that I’m stupid, slow, clumsy (I am clumsy). That I’m lucky to have got the things I have because God knows it will never get better. I have no right or reason to feel this way and yet, here we are. Here I am worrying about everything ever in the history of the world.

I know I’m not alone. A very close friend of mine has panic attacks and although I used to sit with her at work until they subsided, I couldn’t empathise fully. I had no idea then what anxiety really was or what it felt like to have a panic attack. Until I had one walking home from town just after Christmas, and then another one in the middle of the night. I genuinely thought that was it and I’ve had it in the back of my mind ever since.

So there it is. Anxiety and I have become well-acquainted over the last year or two – and it’s pretty toxic. I wish I could shake it forever but then, isn’t it just one of the things that makes me who I am? Doesn’t it attune me to the people in my life who feel the same? My fellow anxious ones.

Mental health is so important and we can’t afford not to be open about it. What it is, how it feels, how we cope with it. I don’t have any answers by the way, some days I struggle to leave the flat but maybe I’ll find a new way to live if I’m more honest with myself and others.

I love my life so much despite the anxiousness, and I’m sick of being scared all the time. I want to do great things, even if they’re small things that only please me. I want to stand at the end of my life and be chuffed that I got on with it, even when my inner naysayer was trying to stop me.

I want to be fearless again – or half-way fearless. That’ll do.

Anyone else out there feeling me? How do you cope with that ol’ devil called anxiety? ❤

Revenge Body

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I’m sure most people have read or seen somewhere that Khloé Kardashian (formerly my favourite) has a new show called Revenge Body.

While I haven’t seen it, and probably won’t, I feel I know enough to say it sounds bad. KK gets people to tell their stories, about who they want revenge on (exes/haters) and then helps them lose however much weight they’re convinced is the key to their future happiness. I say helps, I think it’s the trainers and nutritionists, not to mention the ‘revenge seekers’ that do all the work.

The concept of looking banging to fuck off your ex is nothing new obviously and not invented by a Kardashian*. I can’t deny that it is a satisfying notion to bump into someone who’s been hideous to you looking your very best, but the thing about this for me is that it’s all the focused on the body. On looks on the whole.

Like, I get it. Fat is bad. Fat is the last thing any woman would ever want to be because it is so heinous, I get it. Every day it is drummed into me and I get it. We’re nothing and nobody while we’re fat and should always be on some sort of journey away from it, at the very least. Except, I am fat and I likely always will be. I also love myself.  What’s all that about?

Revenge Body and its current publicity campaign has got me thinking about my own RB though. The body I wish to express myself with, to defiantly face the world in. The body I would like to greet every one of my no-good exes with, should I ever be unfortunate enough to bump into any of them (there’s only one horrid one and if I saw him, believe that my RB would be the very last thing on my mind).

This body here. 

My revenge is my defiantly fat and well-loved body. Soft stomach, wobbly thighs, lumps, bumps and dimples.

And the greatest lesson I’ve ever learnt is this: if you can look upon yourself and say, you know what I see my ‘flaws’ and I love myself anyway, then nobody else has the power to take anything away from you. People can’t throw your own imperfections back in your face if you love them.

They can say “God look at your fat arse!”, and you can say “I know, it’s good right? MASSIVE!”.**

So fuck fat haters, diet chatters, guilt trippers, old boyfriends who treated you like shit, people who think you should lose weight, self-appointed doctors, ‘well-meaning’ relatives, men in white vans, men in any capacity, anybody who thinks they have the right to comment on anybody else’s body or looks, myself included. And fuck self-doubt.

Fuck them all.

*I’m not a Kardashian hater, promise.
**I make it sound easy, don’t I? It’s not easy, but it is satisfying when you start to really believe it. 

A Monday 

enjoyI’ve stolen this from Meghan who stole it from a family member. I’m not sure my usual weekly routine would constitute a good read but yesterday was quite the emotional roller coaster for me, so I’ll try to accurately relive it.

I’ll also mention work quite a bit which is rare for me. I tend to keep that part private.

~

My first alarm goes off at 6.30 so I know I have another half an hour to snooze before I have to get up. 7 comes and I roll out of bed.

I started my period the night before so my body aches and my stomach is cramping. As with all Mondays I have that knot of dread about the working week ahead (for no good reason). I think two things as I stretch: a) about that saying you’re in the wrong job if you hate Mondays (I think you’d still be wary regardless) and b) why do I always ache so much? It’s age, isn’t it?

Glynn has made me a cup of tea which is waiting on the side. I put the box on while I paint my face on. Glynn asks me if I’ve seen the new Ghost in the Shell trailer yet. I have, we discuss it for a few minutes. I have some concerns about it.

As I complete my face and run the straighteners through my bedhead, I watch The Goldbergs and then switch over to Good Morning Britain (I know, I know). Piers Morgan is on and is blowing hot air as usual. I leave the house at 8.10 after brushing my teeth vigorously. I had a filling a week ago and it still tastes like metal.

On the way to work I pass my official ‘selfie’ wall. I don’t stop this morning as my complexion is shot to shit (period) and I’m wearing a very unremarkable outfit. I pass the house of the guy who tattooed me last. I get toast with peanut butter on the way into the office.

I walk in and shout good morning. I get a few grunts back which is classed as a small victory, usually there’s nothing. Our small Marketing team has a brief catch up before and after 9am. Not just saying this for the purposes of a good post, I’m much luckier than most to work with such good people.

Tatty and I receive a group message on Facebook from a colleague saying that another colleague has split up with her partner over the weekend. We all agree she needs extra TLC. Later said colleague mentions the break up to us herself. We all tell her she deserves the moon and stars because she does.

The morning passes in a blur of emails and phone calls and quote requests. I email James my podcast partner a lot to discuss this coming week’s viewing homework. We have seven films to watch by Saturday’s recording. We record two episodes of All Out of Bubblegum fortnightly and publish every Wednesday. I talk about my podcast a lot because I love doing it so much. This week will revolve around a film a night, not really a hardship for me.

I have a baked potato for lunch and write some of a blog post. It’s my review of an Egyptian film called Excuse My French, due to be published tonight. I collaborate with Jillian who will post her review at roughly the same time, her time. I also order a dress for the Christmas party, coming up on the 9th. I was going to go for a hot pink number but at the last minute, opt for chocolate brown.

I have lots of creative pursuits outside work which make me very happy indeed but sometimes it reflects back on my day to day work unfavorably. As a team we do a lot of production which I enjoy as it involves talking to lots of people and is very varied but I do long for more creative projects. Wahhhh, I’m such a baby.

After lunch Tatty and I gossip in the kitchen with our colleague, the one who’s just split up with her girlfriend. She’s in good humor but we’re both angry she’s been hurt. We talk for at least 15 minutes over the kettle. I get back to my desk still in a good mood but there’s something on my mind. I receive a parcel which is a bag I’d ordered the day before. A few people roll their eyes as they walk past me into a meeting. They all know I have an acute shopping addiction.

I’ve not been feeling great about myself or things for a while now and I’m emotional today. At around 4 something happens with a project I’ve been on the outskirts of that makes me cross ( I won’t bore with details). I’m bad at hiding my negative feelings so talk to Tatty in a separate room.

Once I close the door I burst into tears and it feels like I’m crying for everything bad that’s ever happened (like the Le Tigre track). I’m really embarrassed but it feels good to open up. I express myself badly about frustrations at work, my crisis in the lead up to my birthday (on the 25th), how I feel about myself. I’m a hot mess but we iron things out and I know things are going to be better.

The gist of where I am is this: I’m a (nearly) 39 women with no clue of where I’m going in life (career wise). Tatty pointed out my creative drive and helped me understand that nobody hates me, even though I think they do every day. I know my anxiety is out of control, I doubt everything I do and I want to feel better. I cry some more but come out feeling better, despite the puffy eyes. I’m impressed with my friend who’s great at this stuff and practical too. We’ve formed a plan for me to get more out of my role, which is to build it the way I actually want it.

Even though I feel better, I feel a bit foolish for being so snotty, I’m the ugliest crier. I know I won’t be judged but paranoia tries to mess with my head again. I’m going for birthday drinks after work so fix my make-up and try to remember that tomorrow is a new day.

At the pub I enjoy a double vodka and diet Coke, catch up a bit with my friend Paul. The boys leave and I spend time with some of the girls, who are all from a different department. There’s a guy there who was fired a few month back. He’s on good form though, we talk about work and other things. At 7.20pm I leave and pick up a terrible TV dinner for Glynn and I. Glynn’s been cleaning the kitchen and has done a load of washing. I burst into tears again when I see him. He hugs me, makes me tea and then feeds me. I’m the luckiest person on the planet.

We watch a documentary called Tabloid together about a nuts but remarkable American woman who caused a major scandal in the 1970’s in England. I get confused because I’m not concentrating as I’m finishing up my blog post. I eat a Wispa for pudding and have a cup of tea before bed. Glynn has dry roasted peanuts. We retire to the boudoir at 10pm. I shower first and read a bit of my current book The Disaster Artist, which was recommended to me by James.

It’s homework for an upcoming ‘special’ on our podcast. I tweet a bit, on behalf of the podcast (@alloutofgumpod) and as myself. I talk to a business owner I really admire about a piece I’ve commissioned. It’s a necklace that looks like Barb from Stranger Things. I look forward to receiving her now, maybe tomorrow.

I go to sleep at about 11pm. I still feel embarrassed about my outburst this afternoon, which I hadn’t planned. I think again how I have to do something about the way I’m feeling and my own self belief. But then I think it only gets me at low points, in general I’m a happy person. I remind myself again that I’ll feel better in the morning.

Don’t you just love the time between lights out and total oblivion? ❤

Girl, Bye.

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You know what true power is?

Cutting things out of your life that hurt or anger you. No argument, no “Fuck you”, just a “Girl, bye” under your breath and you’re off. I’m currently angry and bewildered by a particular incident that happened on that wonderful barometer of how shit people can be: the internet. Specifically, Facebook.

Someone I know recently posted a status update about ‘promoting plus-size’ (and how wrong it is), and even though I should never be surprised by the general lack of sympathy toward fat people, I did expect better from this individual.

Sadly (not really), she’s no longer going to be part of my life, on any platform or in the flesh (in my case, substantially more flesh). I don’t conform to who she wants me to be nor deserve any sort of respect based on what she’s saying apparently, so I’m stepping out.

I know, I know that us fats are all just asking for trouble being the way we are. We’re all going to die horribly because we wear bigger dress sizes. We certainly don’t live active lives, how can we? We all eat shit, swerve veggies and more or less just mainline Digestives on the sofa in front of the TV day in day out. You got me.

We don’t deserve to dress nicely or enjoy fashion or beauty, life or love. We don’t deserve basic respect either while we’re here. A sweeping statement on Facebook with a Daily Mail supporting link is definitely the way to go to reach people if that’s really what you want to do. And if people are alienated, feel personally let down by your attitude, all the better right? They deserve it, the pigs.

People do not respond well to being bullied. Being hateful (even in the form of faux-health concern) will not help. If anything it will make people far less likely to make the best choices for themselves. It will make them feel like shit. It will stop them living their best lives.

How dare this person promote a love yourself mentality and then screw over all the overweight people on her friends list? Oh wait, maybe she doesn’t have any overweight friends? (She doesn’t now). She is blonde, slim and beautiful after all, and it seems not tolerant of anyone who doesn’t fit a similar ideal?

I haven’t spoken to her about this and I won’t. I’m not interested in a debate. I don’t care what she thinks or says. Chances are that she thinks she’s being helpful and that her arrogant ‘motivation’ comes from a good place. I really don’t care.

Girl, bye.

You can bet I’m exercising this mentality in all areas of my life. Brexit was a good way to measure people’s true selves and unfortunately, a handful of people fell short of what I want in my life.

There are doubtless things I say and do that alienate me from people that I don’t even register and that’s their right too. Life’s too short for bullshit and I’m done.

Click, click – over it.