Be you, be wonderful…

One of the things about using social media is the deluge of quotes by people who “inspire” and one person or another being held up as a great example as to how to lead your life and be universally loved. I don’t want to be universally loved and I don’t want to be like the person who I call my hero.

What I want to be is the best me that I can be and I can’t do that by copying anybody else. Let me tell you a story…

Many years ago I went to a self-help group because it was, in a way, a condition of receiving counselling from a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN). I hated going to the group, I didn’t like the other women that were there and there was no men who attended regularly so often the meetings became a festival celebrating all that was wrong about men. Part of the meetings, for some the most important part, was the coffee afterwards. Hair was let down and you got to see the person underneath the facade that was created for the meeting. I hated the coffee hour as much as I hated the meeting but, as the saying goes, needs must when the devil drives and that CPN could be quite a devil when he wanted to be.

One woman always used to want to sit beside me and hung on to every word that I said. She started to dress a little like me and would latch on to phrases I used and began to use them when she spoke. She actually went from a person who never swore to one who swore far too much because I had a fondness for swearing (I still do). It got to a point where she stopped carrying a handbag because I didn’t and that was ridiculous as she carried her world with her in a big bag and I’m the keys, phone and money kind of person. The type of group it was meant that we all got turns to give a little talk to the rest and my talk was basically what this blog post is about and it stopped her behaviour in her tracks.

She wanted to be like me but to the point that she tried to be me. I’m me because I’m the sum of all my experiences and I’ve survived because I’ve run head on at challenges though sometimes it’s been like hitting a brick wall as opposed to forcing the obstacle out of my way. She couldn’t be me but if she wanted to be like me then she had to change her way of approaching things which is the whole point of having experiences – we learn as we go and become more like the person we can be. Imitation is supposed to be flattering but it can be a flattening experience for the person doing it.

I think it’s important also to remember that the “experts” we can find ourselves admiring often aren’t experts at all, they’ve just gleaned knowledge from books or by listening to other people. If you don’t, quite literally in some instances, practise what you preach then you’re not an expert in doing something, you’re an expert in gleaning information about something! I practise mindfulness and have done for 10 years. Over those years I’ve become good at it and find myself using it when I need to often without being aware of it. I spread that knowledge by telling people how I do things. This makes me an expert in a way because I practise what I preach. Having said that this expert would rather you listen then find the best way of working it to suit you!

One of the best ways of finding the real you is by taking small steps to improve your life. Ten years ago I wanted to have a tidier flat and more time to manage the Bipolar I that plagues my life but I just couldn’t get there. I was constantly defeated and demoralised by the chaos I was surrounded with and felt helpless and more than a bit stupid. Five or six years ago I had Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registered and that means that, when I need to, two attorneys can make decisions about my finances and health and I no longer have to think about it. The financial adviser is a great friend and he’s turned my bank balance around completely. I’ve gone from just ticking over into a healthy current account and a small nest egg to act as a buffer in tough times. Once I didn’t have to worry about money I could spend that energy into doing other things and once I had a little saved I bought a washing machine. This transformed my life to a point where I could actually see how many clothes I had because most of them are in the wardrobe today and my flat has become much tidier. I’ve always struggled with washing up but last week I bought a new mop and the kitchen floor looks cleaner so I’m more motivated to wash up. The small step of getting my finances reviewed has made me a tidier person! It doesn’t matter which small step you take as long as you take one!

Being tidier means I have more time to write, more time to take photos and more time to be me. I’m not the little ball of worry disintegrating in the corner of the sofa anymore but when that happens I am more resilient and I cope much better with an illness that has actually become much worse.

The people that inspire me aren’t the big personalities in the world but they’re the small personalities in my world. I’m inspired by those people who make changes by doing small but very important things and those are the people that I emulate. I don’t want to be them, I don’t want to try to be them but I do try to copy their goodness particularly those with calm temperaments as I’m almost permanently on a short fuse!

I’m often described as inpsiring but I wonder if this is, sometimes, because I have a bad case of Bipolar Disorder. I don’t want to be known as the woman with the illness who does well despite it I want to be known as the woman who kicks life in the teeth to spite the illness. I think if we all try to make just a little difference then we, collectively, make a big difference and we can do it all just by me us, by being wonderful.

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