I want to be me, I thought, as I cycled along the Bournemouth seafront this morning. Not someone else. Not that woman over there with the toned, slim legs or the long, thick, glossy hair. Not that sporty girl in the cute hoodie or that lady cuddling her baby. Not that young lady driving that car, with that guy sat next to her.
I want to be me.
I think I’ve spent a lot of my life wanting to be someone else, to look like someone else or to have someone else’s body, family, career or life. But while this life of mine comes with its own peculiar challenges, today I want to be me.
As I pondered wanting to be me this morning, I remembered a poem I wrote two years ago for Body Gossip, a charity that campaigns for positive body image and healthy self-esteem. It was published in a Body Gossip book, along with other poems and stories. I’d completely forgotten about it, but it came to me the other weekend and I decided to read it to a room full of people. I’d like to post it here too.
A lot has changed since I wrote this poem and since I started my 40-day challenge to accept myself and stop criticising the way I looked, chronicling my progress on my first blog: ‘Just As I Am – An Experiment in Self-Acceptance’ back in 2011. It’s easier to be kind to myself these days, to speak to myself in a more loving way. It doesn’t always happen but it’s easier than it was. Maybe that’s because I understand today, more than ever, that it’s a choice – I can choose to be kind to myself or I can choose to beat myself up. It’s down to me.
And I can choose to accept, embrace and love my life as it is today or I can choose to fantasise about some other life that isn’t mine and probably will never be.
The poem is called ‘If Only’. Here goes …
If only I had Michelle Obama’s arms, I wouldn’t need any other charms
If only I had Gisele Bündchen’s height, then surely life would be alright
If only I had Cindy Crawford’s cleavage, and Jennifer Aniston’s über-toned sleevage
If only I had Claudia Schiffer’s thighs, I’d definitely have my pick of the guys
If only I had Cheryl Cole’s glossy hair, then everyone would stop and stare
If only I had Kate Moss’ tum, not to mention Jennifer Lopez’s bum
If only I had Elle Macpherson’s skin and if only I had just one chin
In short, if only I didn’t look like me, surely then I’d be much more happy
I’d be out every night with a gorgeous date or married to the perfect mate
I’d have two lovely kids and a flourishing career; I’d be confident and free of fear
Because life is easy when you’re pretty and slim, it’s not a battle, it’s no longer grim
Surely with the perfect complexion, life is simply love, joy and affection
But what if all this isn’t true, and what if I didn’t wish to look like you
What if I decided I was good enough and life really wasn’t all that tough?
No more envy or trying to be who I’m not, because I’m me and I’m all I’ve got
So why not celebrate other people’s beauty, but tell myself I’m also a cutie?
Why not accept myself just as I am, but also put on a touch of glam?
I have a pretty face and a shapely body, my clothes don’t need to look this shoddy
Why do I hide under a baggy dress? Why not style myself to impress?
And why insist on a life of striving, when I could be out there, laughing and thriving?
So every day I’ll embrace my appearance, all it takes is a little perseverance
To challenge negative thoughts when they come, and keep myself from feeling glum
Because regardless of my shape or size, I’ll still be blue if I listen to those lies
So life will flow and I’ll feel content and free, if only I can keep on accepting me.