That was what started this post.
Maybe it’s the Lacome perfume advert, with the white horse. I mean, just how much power is there in that advert? It absolutely stinks of it. But that song is really, really catchy, and if you love Sia as much as I do, then it sticks more than it stinks.
But, you see, reading the lyrics, I had a realisation, a revelation.
Oh my god, that song could have been written about me.
Pull up a chair, sweetie. Things are about to get real.
Sia’s Unstoppable contains talks about acting strong, it talks about acting tough and seeming invincible and powerful, which I do, but really? I’m a weak, insecure, vulnerable little girl on the inside.
When I was young, about 10 years old or so, my brother was an actor. It started off with him acting on tables at our weekend youth club, and then he sort of went BIG. Before too long, he was on the radio, he’d been on TV, he had an Equity card, he had a fan base and a following. My friends ditched me for him because he was cooler and more fun to be around, and me? I became nothing. I was inferior. Insignificant.
My brother was acting and earning pocket money, he was attending French cooking classes and my parents would lament over the delicious dishes he learned to prepare. My brother could sing and impress the family and I, meanwhile, was the shy, quiet child. I had nothing to offer, nothing to stand out and say “hey! Look what I can do, too!”
I blended into the background. I even became “Malcolm’s sister” at school and in the street. That’s right, dehumanized to someone else’s name.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my baby brother dearly, but he is he and I had my own thoughts, desires, and feelings, I just felt like they weren’t as important as his. Instead of shining, I just learned to shut up and fade out.
My GCSE’s were the icing on this cake of envy and self-loathing. Because of my RSD, I got moved to a hopsital education unit where I only got 4 grade C’s and a B, despite being set for top marks at secondary school. Because he stayed at mainstream education, my brother walked out with A* grades, and that only added to my sense of insignificance and inferiority. Not only was he cooler and better than me, now he was smarter, too.
In many ways, this competition was exceptionally unhealthy. We had an “anything you can do, I can do better” relationship, and I knew he was better than me.
He got invited to sing at Christmas dinner, and I’d get asked to get off of the cat’s tail if I tried to sing. He’d get to play his didgeridoo, but I wasn’t allowed to get my hands on my very own drum set. Feeling like my brother was always going to do better than me or be better than me, I learned to be quiet and let him stand out.
For a long time, I was a very meek, depressed and quiet person. I didn’t have anything to offer the world, I didn’t have anything that I believed that I could do well. I was just.. well.. me. Small, weak, and inferior.
To be honest, I didn’t really feel noticed until my now betrothed came along. I suppose he saw something in me, and because of him and because of therapy, I came to be.
Yes, I’ve had therapy, I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact, I highly recommend it even if you don’t think you really need it.
Looking back, I know that my family believed in me, too, I just felt outshone. My brother’s light shined so brightly that mine was dim in comparison. In the end, I got so tired of trying to compete for attention that I simply gave in and I stopped trying to be noticed. Instead, I coursed my own journey and did my own thing.
I developed my own writing style, and found that many, many of my readers actually liked it.
I developed my own takes on dishes, and found that my family actually like them.
I developed my own dress style, and now people are convinced that I’m cool and confident.
I developed wit, which people came to find charismatic and likeable about me.
I learned to help people through writing. I learned that my thoughts, experiences and insights could make a difference to the world and actually help people discover happiness through the senses rather than medication. I stopped focusing inwards, and focused outwards instead. I stopped writing about me and my thoughts, and put my time and energy into writing things that would help people on a journey to self-discovery. I’m now a sex-positive blogger and I’m also planning to study to become a life coach, if I can find a way.
You see? I didn’t need to be good at the same things as my brother, I needed to be me.
Which is why a moment last month shocked me. Sat in the chalet on Cornwall on a cold, blustery October day, my brother looked me directly in the eye and said,
“You know, I’m kind of jealous of you. I always thought I’d be the one who’d be married first but you know, you’re making it.”
Jealous of me?!
The very person that I was jealous of, is jealous of me, because I have the one thing he doesn’t have – I have love.
It still cuts me to the core to this day, honestly. I feel kind of sad for him. Not because he is a sad person, but because he is so loveable, so likeable, so.. warm, and affectionate, and somebody who would do anything for anyone, but he was jealous of me. It’s quite eye-opening, really.
I’m known for being a bit of a show-off, a bit of a braggart. I’m known for having confidence in the things I do and the things that I achieve, and yet, all of this has come from lacking confidence in the one place that I should have had it to start with- in myself.
I think, sometimes, the world thinks that I think I am unstoppable. I’m not, and I don’t. I’m actually extremely sensitive and I’m wracked with anxiety on a near daily basis. I’m a serial ghoster because cutting people out is easier than it is to call them on their shit. I cut people out readily for being a bad friend because now that I’ve built myself up, I won’t have anyone pull me back down. Where I am now matters to me so much that I am also extremely sensitive to criticism. I’d rather have no friends than have friends who criticize me, because criticism means that I’m not enough.
Not good enough.
Not smart enough.
Not pretty enough.
It puts me at risk of going back there again, and I won’t let anyone do that to me. I can’t.
My confidence is fuelled by fear. and I need to maintain control to avoid being inferior again.
I’ve built myself up now, together with a handful of people who saw me and believed in me, but my sense of self is still so fragile. It’s so fragile that deep inside, I still seek your validation.
But then, I think we all do, if we’re being honest.
When we stop measuring ourselves by likes, follows, and online friends, only then will we see that numbers don’t matter. When we realise that the only person we really need to love us is ourselves, only then can we ever be truly happy with what we have, and who we really are.