I saw the first sign of Christmas yesterday. It is November 4th, so let us ignore the delights of early autumn with the bright blue skies and falling leaves, the smell of bonfires, the promise of fireworks in the air. Instead, let us cram the shelves with mince pies and chocolate reindeer and befuddle ourselves with the concepts of time and reason.
Here we are again, in the run up to Christmas, and I am,of course, filled with my annual murky cocktail of shame and dread. 2019 is drawing to a close so I ask myself, as tradition dictates at this time of year, “are you, Niki Clarke, the biggest disappointment that ever lived?” And then I deep dive in that until New Year.
I usually break down the year through the following questions:
1) Did you make any money? 2) Did you form any meaningful relationships? 3) What DID you do then? 4) What do people think of you? (The answer to this should, always, unequivocally, absolutely, be "I don't care" 100% of the time. It's not though is it? It's always: "I care so much it hurts my insides". What do people think of me? My imaginings on this matter have led to some sleepless nights, eyeballs straining through the darkness as I replay all the painful moments of my life over and over again and tell myself how the people dear to me actually loathe me yet tolerate me, and secretly wish I weren't around).
Why do I do this to myself? No idea.
I can tell you though, that it is very easy indeed to repeat over in my mind all the things I have not achieved and casually ignore all the things I have. Why is it so easy to focus on the macabre and stay away from the light? If you practically broke down all the things that happened this year, it has actually been really good and yet, here I am, eight weeks until Christmas, tearing myself down just because we're getting close to an annual milestone. "Oh Nicolaaaaa", I say to myself, "you are THE ugliest baby rat faced nobody, and no one will ever love you. You will sleep on blow up mattresses, on the floors of other couples homes, alone, for the rest of your life. You are destined to fail in everything you do, you old, fat, UTTER, disappointment".
This is unhelpful. This will not help. I recognise that. So, this year, for the next eight weeks, I am going to try to be kinder to myself. I think it is absolutely possible to change these thoughts and replace them with something more upbeat, maybe stop calling myself a rat face, maybe stop cringing when I look in the mirror, maybe be NICE to myself! A friend of mine once told me that her grandmother used to proclaim "Phwoah!" every time she glimpsed her own reflection, bet she didn't have annual shame questions.
For anyone else making a Christmas list of all your faults and failures, I would advise against it. I understand the sinkhole attraction of this, but do not do it. Instead, find the things about you and your life that are POSITIVE, think of all you have achieved, think honestly about the nice things that people have said to and about you over the years, I bet they are kinder words than you say to yourself. Claim a little pride in being who you are, faults and all, recognise the individual person you are, park that guilt and shame for the next few weeks, say wonderful things to yourself, smile, throw away that list and shout it with me:
"I don't care what you think about me!! Someone get me a chocolate reindeer! PHWOAH!"