Letter to the Nay Sayers

eye‘Dear’ Nay Sayers, Bullies, dark thoughts and mis-placed egos…

I remember, only too well, those looks that you have all shot at me… Shot being the operative word…

At school, public praise from teachers was rare and when given was a real joyful jolt that would just make me smile ‘out loud’. Such smiling was allowed in my childhood home world, where good behaviour and performance were rewarded and the bad, chided and punished.

But I learned early on at secondary school NOT to appear pleased if praised. If I turned to a desk friend and smiled my delighted, I was met with a scowl or a blank face. And so I remember several times being told by teachers that an essay or a poem was good, and having to hold myself down and fold myself in, and not respond beyond a bland acknowledgement.

Basically at school, it didn’t do to stand out and be different from my peers. And doing well meant being different, or at least it did in the circles that I ran around in. And like most children I was good at some things, average in many and poor in some. So when I was good, I wanted to revel in it, but wasn’t overtly ‘allowed’ to. Revelling meant getting picked on and punished, so I developed other ways and means of getting by in school life, and beyond.

So many children develop protective tactics and I was the ‘talkative / funny’ one. I wise cracked confidently with my friends, was shy around everyone else, all the while feeling that telling and sharing was natural, not boastful. But I was punished and picked on for that assumption. ‘Big head’ was the phrase we used back then…

Round about the age of 12 or 13 I remember doing really well in an important test. I remember being pleased about it and that short days later, two friends ‘broke up’ with me and stopped speaking to me for months…

After all this unknown rivalry, the Sixth Form was a real relief to me, since there were now only 50 pupils, instead of hundreds of competitors; and we went from class rooms to a common room with comfy chairs and a common interest in learning and drinking tea.

So you start to learn… some places are safe and in some, you just don’t dare to share… I remember a few short years later, in the world of work, (and still ever the clown), that I broke my wrist and it was all hugely funny ‘dear world’ (actually it was really painful). As a result, a jokey article and picture of me was featured in the Staff Newsletter (an actual mini newspaper that went to the printers – do you remember those days?). I was delighted and giggly, but then I saw them… the looks… Whilst I giggled and preened, the girls in the office were rolling their eyeballs at each other, or should I say, me???

So I learnt to stay schtum at work, and be efficient and get things done quietly, without sought for recognition. Then I learnt that although I fitted in, people also often took me granted, passed me over, and never had any true concept of the extent of my capabilities.

And you know, I wore a mask most of the time in most of my life. I attempted to appear bland, not to show emotion. I was spikey and jokey. And somehow I stayed with my first adult boyfriend for 5 years and in all that time told I loved him a sum total of twice.

This ‘keep your head down’ lesson had failed to prepare me for life and I only really progressed in my corporate career by consciously starting over and again, and then over yet again, in new jobs, with new vistas, and with new people would really ‘get’ me, this time

And still I waited to be seen and sometimes I would show my colours and more often even, I would simply get my head down and just get on with working and breathing.

But something was stirring and changing in me and maybe this began when I started to accept that some people did really ‘see’ me. It was around this time that I finally learned to accept compliments. You see I had, for years, treated a compliment like a shuttlecock in badminton – that is something to be batted back to the person who had sent it my way. It was rejected or laughed at or demurred or returned with a joke. After having this pointed out to me many times, I learned to accept the compliment, then breath and then respond with an acknowledgement.

And as for complimenting myself – it didn’t happen often – quite the opposite in fact! Are you familiar with the phrase ‘your own worst enemy’? You know, that voice in your head which berates and nags and criticises? I know that voice so well…

And the voice still has its’ say, but now I don’t hide my achievements or my feelings. If I can support you, in your life and work, I will be committed to and passionate about the cause and honest about the wonderful consequences. I can say ‘I love you’ freely and happily and now I dare to share my shit too – the gritty, torrid inner workings of my sometimes still unhappy heart.

So I am standing on my soap box now and am openly going to tell you that deep down, I have always thought that I am someone special and unique, and that whilst not everyone in the world has to see that, I have literally been grief stricken at times when some people have been blind to it, and the possibilities that they and I have missed as a result!

Yet before any accusations of ego fly from me or you, I want you to know that I believe this of every one. This is why I am a coach, so I get to support people in shining the light on themselves and the possibilities before them and why, indeed I have to stand on my soap box and shout and show the way. Yet so often in the past I have definitely allowed people to look through or beyond me but now this has to STOP.

Inherently I have the fear, still, that I will get those looks, that I’ll be judged a big head, that people will reject me… And sometimes you know, they do… But I will continue to show up any way and here is why… How will you know I am here, how will you know I can support you, how will you know what results you can expect from being with me, if I don’t share that – with you and the world? And what about you???

If I stay quiet, it could be that both and you and I stay small and suffer, and are stuck in world weary grooves of learnt behaviour – trapped in our heads, with negative thoughts and expanding or contracting emotions propelling us towards oblivion, or distracting us from how absolutely magnificent we really and truly are.

If I stand up and speak my truth, then you get to see me and hear me, and so get to know yourself better too. You get to know that you are not alone. You get a radiant reflection of your amazing self, not a skewed perception, peddled by peers with their subconscious and obvious influences.

And how about I tell you how wonderful I am, that I make money doing what I love, that I dress for success and that in doing so, I help others to do the same and so, so much more. And yet, yes, I am also a fallible failure, and impossibly imperfect and that is what probably makes me even more fantastically, marvellously, awe inspiringly special, because I suspect that you are too…

So be I shunned or elevated, it’s time to step up and shine. And when many lights are lit together, it illuminates the world so much more doesn’t it, so I would love you to join me…

With warmest wishes

        Sandie

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