Growing up in what us Brit’s call a Council Estate meant that residents couldn’t hang their wet washing on the line in the garden to dry because the local hobbledehoy would steal anything worth jumping over a fence for. The clothes we hung were never stolen however; even the local thieves wouldn’t be caught dead in them.
My Mum worked in a corner store with limited education and my Dad was an alcoholic Engineer whose anxiety meant that he hadn’t worked in years and drank away any money my Mum made. The neighborhood kids always talked about the local pedophile and I was lucky enough to have met him on a few occasions. Needless to say, my childhood wasn’t going to make it into any Disney movies. At 17 my Mum moved to Ireland, my Dad was still drunk and little old me ended up in a homeless shelter. Looking back at that experience now, after years of coaching and counseling I can see the positives and important lessons that came from that time in my life. Here they are:
1. Your past does not define you
I was one of the geeky, poor kids in school. No one from my neighborhood was going to university or becoming the next Britney Spears. The best thing I could hope for was getting lucky on a scratch card. That was, until I realized that I could take just one small step into defining a future that wasn’t “meant” for me. And then another step….and another. Don’t listen to those people who tell you that “no one in our family has achieved much”, or “you’re too fat to be a singer”. I don’t think so!
2. No matter what situation you’re in you can change it
When you’re in a shitty situation it’s really easy to think that it’s what you deserve, nothing is going to change or it’s just too hard. It is hard, but sometimes it can be easy as pie. The only person in charge of what is going on up in your magical little brain is you! If a kid that lived next to a gypsy campsite, with a one pedal bicycle can go from Loserville to being all kinds of awesome, you can too.
3. You should ask for help when you need it
The reason I ended up in this homeless shelter is that I was too proud to ask for help. I was all like “Listen up here, I’m a grown ass woman and I can take care of myself”. Then I ended up eating instant noodles courtesy of the British government. People are happy to help so don’t be afraid to reach out.
4. You can’t continue to blame others for your crappy life
Yep, I have had my fair share of bad situations and relationships. It was my parent’s fault, the teacher’s fault, that first wanky boyfriends fault, Michelle Smith’s fault for putting masticated chewing gum in my ear on the bus ride home from school. Until it isn’t any more. It’s ok to be angry at all these asshat’s but there comes a point when you need to let go of that crap and start to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Word.
5. Don’t judge others by their failures
You can never tell someone’s life story by appearance alone, so don’t even try. If you had seen me as a snotty nosed kid or a Marilyn Manson worshiping teenager, would you have thought that I would turn into the badass boss that I am today? Hell no!
6. Being exceptional is just an attitude shift
It’s not easy to do, but once you can get to a place where you truly love yourself and believe you can achieve any crazy plan that pops into your head then you’ve adjusted your attitude in such a way that you are not likely to end up homeless, and even if you do, you can calmly work towards a solution.
7. Most things aren’t worth stressing over
The other week some crazy bus driver got stuck in a spot and instead of reversing out of it he started trying to nudge my car out of the way, with me sitting in it. This guy had lost his mind! What the heck is was thinking?! I was going to get out and tell him what a donkey he is! Until I realize; is this going to matter to me on my deathbed? Chances are not. Why waste my emotional energy on this bozo? Once you’ve gone through some big stuff in your life it’s so freeing to realise these little things just don’t matter.