Monday, 4 February 2019

Remembering what makes me 'me'

Lately, I've started to realise that significant life events can change the way you define yourself. In fact, if you let them, they can quickly become the only things that define you without you even realising it.

These events and their consequences can taint all the interests and accomplishments you had before they crashed into your life, forming unhelpful associations and thought patterns. When these thought patterns are prolonged and become second nature, you slowly start to lose sight of your authentic self.

Photo by Anton Gorlin on Unsplash

These events can be big, small or seemingly insignificant to other people, and everyone's story will be different. For me, this momentous event was my cancer diagnosis in August 2016.

The traumatic impact of the diagnosis and everything that's followed has been pretty damaging. It's had an overwhelming impact on so many aspects of my life, both emotionally and physically.

As a result, I've let the cancer and the situation I now find myself in completely overshadow me as a person until it feels as if that's the only thing that defines me. I struggle to think about myself and who I am without bringing my diagnosis into the equation. My friend Fee has written about this struggle of losing all sense of who you are far more eloquently than I ever could if you're interested in having a read.

On top of this potential loss of identity, we live in a world where there's a lot of pressure to be a certain way, to look a certain way and to get angry about certain things. You often get swept along with the tide and end up trying to be what everyone else thinks you should be rather than just being 'you'. All this pressure combined with the aftermath of those life-defining moments can make you completely lose sight of who you really are.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

I was on this earth for 30 years before cancer barged into my life. I had hobbies, quirks and passions just like everyone else. There's no denying that I've been through a traumatic time and that it still affects me in a big way, but I'm ultimately the same person as I was before my diagnosis.

With this in mind, I thought it would be useful to try to summarise all the things that make me 'me'. Over the next few weeks and months, I'm going to try to grab hold of these things with both hands and remind myself that my diagnosis doesn't have to define me. It's undeniably given me a new perspective on things which is often unhelpful, but I was a whole person before it happened and I can still be a whole person now.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

I'm very introverted and my 'recharge' time is really important to me. Although I feel as if this has magnified over the last couple of years, I was definitely still that introverted person before my diagnosis. I have always been and will always be an introvert, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I love words. Reading words, writing words, proofreading and editing other people's words... I love anything to do with words. However, I don't love words which have mistakes in them. I'm a stickler for accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation and I make no apologies for that. It's my thing.

I'm very organised, to put it mildly. I have to-do lists for everything and I (try to) plan all aspects of my life with military precision. If you ever want to buy me a gift, pretty stationery to support my planning obsession will always go down well.

I love going for walks. I particularly love cold, crisp and sunny days, and I love seeing beautiful trees and white wispy clouds against a bright blue sky.

Catching up with family and my best friends always makes me feel a bit more 'me'. Although my aforementioned introverted self sometimes struggles to summon up the energy to catch up with people, spending time with my favourite people is vitally important because they know and like the real me. This proves that the real me is still there, deep down.

I take a lot of pride in everything I do, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Whether it's my work, my blog, my Instagram posts, my house or my gym sessions, it's important to me that everything I do is the very best it can be. This does mean that I'm often too hard on myself when I don't live up to my own high expectations, but I'm glad I still have that passion to succeed.

I have a firm set of values and a strong moral compass. These values serve as constant markers in my day-to-day life, and they're a helpful reminder of who I am and what I really care about. Their rigidity can sometimes be unhelpful when I feel as if I've compromised on those values (see above point about being a perfectionist), but for the most part they help to keep me grounded.

I love the fact that Neil and I go out for a hot chocolate every weekend. It's something we've always done since we first started dating nearly eight years ago, and there's something very comforting about keeping this tradition alive.

I love sleeping. I need a lot of sleep to be able to function like a normal person, so it's lucky that I love it so much. As a very important aside, I also love pyjamas, cosy socks and my dressing gown.

I'm a big fan of accessories and always have been. Give me shopping for jewellery, hats, scarves and handbags over shopping for actual clothes any day.

Disney makes my world go round. I love old Disney films, new Disney films, Disney princesses, Disney animals, Disney merchandise, Disney parks, Disney music... you get the picture.

I'm fiercely patriotic and am hugely passionate about the importance of respecting the Welsh language and keeping it alive.

I completely conform to the 'girls love pink and glitter' stereotype. I'm perfectly fine with that, and I don't need to pretend otherwise or to justify it to anyone.

Jessie, food and cwtches from Neil can instantly put a smile on my face, however bad my day has been.

I worry a lot about what people think of me, and that's definitely not a new thing. However, I'm trying hard to remember that I'm fundamentally a kind, caring and empathetic person. I make mistakes like everyone else, but above all I always try to be nice to people. I don't think many people will remember me as a particularly remarkable person, but if people say 'she was nice' then that's good enough for me.

Photo by Federico Bottos on Unsplash

What makes you 'you'?


  1. I think you are a hugely remarkable and memorable person :-) This is beautifully written.

    Realising you need to find yourself again after a time can be alarming, but actually the process can be rather fun I have found, as you remember and embrace all your favourite things. Indulge in them - you really deserve to xxx

  2. I'm with Fee on this one, you are most definitely remarkable and memorable. I've always admired the way that you're happy to stand up for what you like and believe in even if it's not the popular thing. Taking your own McFly CD to Metros is the example that always sticks in my mind, along with the more serious examples!

    I definitely know where you're coming from, for a long time I found it hard to define myself without doing it through the lens of mental health. It's a hard thing because I also didn't want to deny or ignore that part of me but it's definitely important to remember what makes you unique xxx


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