With the growing presence of social media, the Age of Comparison (as I have christened it) is upon us. We now have ample ability to see into the worlds of those around us and frankly, it’s creating a very skewed idea of what is real – and what is not. Feelings of shame, inadequacy and insecurity around things that may never have even crossed our minds 10 or 20 years ago are on the increase. So, in light of this, I would like to give you a happy reality check and present you with my list of 10 things that you really don’t need to waste another minute of your life feeling ashamed or embarrassed about. When I started writing this I had 5, then I just kept finding more and more and ended up with 10 – so being the wordy person that I am, I’ve had to split it into 2 parts…welcome to Part 1.
1) Coming from a less-than-perfect family.
We’ve all been there, you’re introducing a new boyfriend/girlfriend/friend to the family and the first thing you do is tell everyone to please behave themselves. ‘Everybody act normal – do not be yourselves! I like this person!’. I remember one time taking an ex-boyfriend to a family party. I had an uncle who was prone to saying incredibly inappropriate things and this time was to be no exception; "Oh hello, you must be the one that’s screwing my niece?’" Oh help. Luckily I had well informed said boyfriend of the possibility of such inappropriateness so it was all just very funny but still - oh god.
Anyway, I don’t think anyone on this earth lives in harmonious familial bliss all of the time – or even ever. Families, as a rule, are just often very chaotic; whether it’s the feuding aunts, the wayward, narcotic-loving, younger sibling, the cousin who’s just been arrested for the third time in a month or the elderley relative who makes wildly inappropriate comments at family do’s - and let’s not even start on the complexities of ex-wives, absent fathers and in-laws. There is no ‘right’ way to have a family and general dysfunction is not something to waste time feeling ashamed of. We’re all just doing the best we can. I have a *wonderful* family (most of the time) and an enormous extended family. I’m very lucky and love them all very much - but to say having this many people all related to each other, with their idiosyncrasies, weird habits and often conflicting opinions - is without drama, would be a total lie. There are always going to be the odd tensions, on-going arguments, and just plain old winding each other up. Just last week I returned from a wedding at 1am only to walk up the drive and see someone had randomly left one of the car doors wide open. This is classic Kelly household behaviour. I went inside and left a post-it on the kitchen table asking who was drunk last night and to check that nothing had been stolen from the Fiesta. There really is no such thing as a‘normal’ family so just love each other, stay loyal, learn to laugh - and carry on.
2) Hating your job.
It’s fine. We all need to make money and support ourselves somehow. If you hate your current job – that’s fine. If you’ve built a career you don’t really even like but it pays the bills, that’s fine too. Maybe you’ll change it, maybe you won’t but living your whole life in a job that you love is actually pretty rare. So don’t feel ashamed of really disliking your job. Or even thinking ‘urgh, why did I choose this?! We all have to make ends meet, and sometimes it won’t work out that we’re in a professional situation that fulfills all - or even just some - of our wildest dreams and desires. Hating your job is fine. Hating your career is fine; maybe you made a decision before you really knew yourself or maybe you listened to bad advice. Either way, if you really want to change it, you will. If not, keep hating on those Mondays with reckless abandon until you either accept it, or find a way to change it. Life isn’t perfect and work is something we all need to do to simply survive. No room for any shame here.
3) Enjoying reality T.V.
I am so done being ashamed of my taste in television. This extremely important topic has made it on to my list as I have recently encountered the very real snobbery around what one likes to watch on ones T.V. when one is relaxing in ones pants. I have no time for T.V. shamers. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Attenborough documentary as much as the next person, (and I’m using this as an example as its seems the T.V. snobs love to bang on about their Blue Planet marathons with such self-righteousness you’d think just by watching them they were somehow saving the ocean.), but I also love a bit of Ramona Singer acting like a massive loon in a New York bar, (yes im talking about those Real Housewives!), or looking at all the great clothes on Made In Chelsea (I know they’re all incredibly annoying– but let’s be honest – they do dress well.) Or even just yelling at the T.V. during Love Island.. and have you ever watched Goggle Box?!?. Exactly. So Yes, I do enjoy a good bit of well edited 'nonsense' sometimes. How dare I...what a shallow uninteresting person I must be…
4) Looking rubbish at the beach/on holiday/with no mascara.
I will admit, I have a life-long jealousy of Girls Who Look Good At The Beach. Like how do you do that? Why are you going brown all evenly and in 3 seconds flat? How do all your beach clothes actually match? How are you not sweaty?! That first day is rarely an attractive experience. This is not a day I would want to bump into the future love of my life. You haven’t quite adapted to your new super-hot, super-bright environment just yet and you’re so pale you may blend into the sand if you lie down. You can’t wear mascara because panda-eyes and maybe you could have gone to the gym a couple more times but oh well.. !We’re here now! Some people are just blessed in looking like modern day Bond girls, emerging from the waves all bronzed and sexy. Me, not so much. I am not a graceful beach dweller. I have no eyes without mascara ("Gosh soph! where did your eyes go?!" - Thank you oh kind boy from my youth..), I’m usually full of mosquito bites and I don’t look good with wet hair – just like I have a really small head. It’s fine, its actually pretty normal, you’re on holiday to relax – not to look good - so enjoy it. You only have to glance at the trashy magazine section in WHSmith to see that some of the most beautiful people in the world still look crap at the beach. Ignore those Instagram photos of models lounging in the sand with perfect tans and zero cellulite – most of them live at the beach (unfair advantage people!) and the most important thing to remember is that most of these models are literally 16 years old – hence the zero body fat. You’re not weird or ugly and the vast majority of us do just look a lot better with dry hair and a lick of war paint.
5) Gaining weight because That Is Just What Happened.
On my first ski season, I had the luxury of a 10 euro bottomless cheese fondue including a starter, dessert and unlimited wine and genepi – every Wednesday for 4 months. I was on a reps wage and food prices in ski resorts are ridiculous - so of course I took full advantage of all this cheap wine and cheese. I was in France! As a result, when I came home and tried to pack for my next season in Italy, I had to buy new jeans. I panicked. I’m a naturally slim person but I had grown an ass. I even remember a couple of weeks later sitting in a Gondola in Venice and my jeans were literally cutting off the circulation to my legs. Anyway, after a month of no fondue and riding my bike to work and back everyday, I was back to my normal weight.
Sometimes in life you may go through a phase where, for whatever reason, you just gain weight. Through exams, a break up, a change in lifestyle, having a baby, writing a book or a dissertation and sitting on your bum all day - or you may just happen to get a cheap cheese fondue every week for a while like I did. So what?. It doesn’t matter – and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Those cheese fondue nights were also some of the funniest and most enjoyable times of my season so who cares if I got a little chub because of it? I see so many women fall into self-loathing and shame at the fact they’ve gained a few pounds (‘I must lose it asap!!’), when sometimes it’s just the result of your circumstances and it could just mean you’re letting go and having a bit of fun in your life. Alternatively, maybe you’ve just been through a tonne of stress and food got you through. Either way, please try not to be so hard on yourself. As women, no matter what we look like, pretty much all of us fight this constant unhappy battle with our bodies and our weight. You're body is a house you live in, not a defining feature of your worth as a person. Gaining a bit of chub is fine - you're living - and you’re doing just fine. :-)