LET’S GET PHYSICAL! PHYSICAL!

I wanna get physicaaaal let’s get into physical (hey I’m a child of the 80s, I can’t help it. Here is the link if you fancy blasting this song out loud  Let’s get physical).

I have a weird relationship with the gym.

Sitting here, in the comfort of my sofa, I love it like crazy. I love sweating like a pig whilst I row on the rowing machine or run on the treadmill; I adore exercising till everything hurts like I just got run over by a truck on full speed; oh, that feeling of finally dumping myself under the shower, closing my eyes and… aaaaah, peace at last. I end up so tired I can’t even think. Oh, and the best bit? Checking myself in the mirror, see the results of my hard work and bask in my own glory for a minute or two (“fuck yeah! Check these abs bitch! Uuuuh look at that ass! Your arms – wow!” and so on).

When I actually have to go to the gym, well, it is a total different story: I HATE IT.

I hate it with a passion. Gosh I hate going to the gym. I hate the smell; I hate exercising; I hate gym clothes; I hate all the machines, none excluded; I hate weights; I hate barbells and don’t make me start on dumbbells and kettlebells; I hate classes; I hate personal trainers and I hate myself for going there even though I absolutely hate it. I’m a lazy arse who just wants to eat lasagne and be left alone ok?

In the building where my office is located there is a little gym. Most of my colleagues are fitness fanatics, and when you don’t see them killing themselves in the gym during lunch break, it’s because they are running 5k outside “to get some fresh air and train for running a marathon”.

For the record, I hate running. I can barely tolerate it on a treadmill. I tried to run 5k twice in my life and believe me, I don’t think I will put myself through that again unless I get paid a lot of money. The first time I did it I was working at the BBC. I surrendered to the pleas of my good friend James, who’s leader of the running club. I am embarrassed and ashamed to say I made those 5k a nightmare for him and his mates. I moaned and moaned and moaned some more for at least 3k; when my legs told me to do one, I found a bench, I sat down and I kept moaning to myself; when James and the other runners finished their run, I moaned non-stop all the way back to the office.

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Things you do for free food

Put it this way: if he is still my friend after that, it is only because he is amazing and has a very big heart. The second time happened two years ago, at a charity event organised by JP Morgan. I knew that enrolling into this race was a horrible mistake, but my colleagues convinced me by saying that, at the end of the race, I could have enjoyed free barbecue and drinks. I can’t say no to free food, I just can’t! I’m not proud to admit that I ended up running less than 1k, then I got bored and I just played PokemonGo for the remaining 4k. I arrived at the finish line an hour and too much time later. The barbecue was over. I wasn’t happy. At all. Damn!

I have never had a good relationship with my physical appearance. I started hating my body at a very young age, when I became aware of what I looked like, and I compared it with what everyone else looked like. Hating yourself is a slow and deadly poison. It creeps into your brain, one negative comment at a time, and before you know it you can’t think of anything else but “I’m fucking shit”. Constantly. Worse, it spreads in every aspect of your life: everything you do, everything you experience and everything that comes into your life gets filtered through this dark cloud of negativity. It becomes your everything. It permeates your reality in such a wicked way that you succumb without a fight.

The ideal Italian woman has always been sexy and curvaceous. I have always been the exact opposite: skin and bones. Not even a remote idea of boobs or bum. Everyone, from my friends to my parents, told me I looked like a stick with clothes on. I knew that if I were to cut my hair short, I would have easily passed for a boy. Now, imagine being in a locker room, full of girls who-look-like-girls, who behave like girls-should-behave: I started comparing myself to them. I started asking myself why I was like me and not like them. WTF was happening (or not happening) that I got stuck in this joke of a stupid body, on top of having a stupid brain? It didn’t take a lot of effort to convince myself that I was not only different, but also U G L Y.

I Just could not accept who I was, even less than before. I looked at the mirror and everything was a no: my hair? Barely average. My face? Please…. With these horrible, messy teeth? Hardly worth of looking at. My body? Or should I say, my skeleton? Only appealing at Halloween, maybe (though in Italy we didn’t have Halloween, of course, catholic!). I spiralled into a self-esteem crisis, where I felt (and convinced myself) that there was nothing I was good at: I was a failure as a girl in every possible aspect.

You can imagine how “glad” I could have been to go to the gym with a background like the one I just described. My mantra has always been “don’t bother because nothing will change”, even if deep down inside I wanted to look good and feel good about myself. I am embarrassed thinking of all the gym memberships that I paid in the heat of the “this time I’m going to train like I’m on fire!”, only to end up not going there. EVER. Not even for the induction session. I know. Don’t make me start on the very few times where I did go, but instead of exercising I just roamed around, not even pretending to try and put some effort. I even had a personal trainer once: I thought that this way, I couldn’t cheat and I had to force myself to go. If only I’d have been less stupid and used the same energies and efforts to do what he said, rather than to trick him into believing I was training, I’d have had the body of a bodybuilder.

Over the years, I have avoided any form of exercise like the plague. I didn’t want to even think of the remote possibility to do anything at all. Even walking for more than 2 minutes was something I could not contemplate. Life had other plans for me, however, and when I moved to London, I found myself surrounded with healthy fanatics & sport addicts who kept trying to drag me into whatever they were into. I dumbly resisted any temptation because I thought I knew best and, whilst everyone was shaping their beach bodies, I was sitting at my desk pretending I didn’t care (but I was secretly envying them hard).

When I started reading all those motivational books, I realised how stupid I have always been for wanting things and never actually work hard toget them. My “ideal body” included. I got fed up of looking at the mirror thinking “if only”. Enough! Do I really, really want it? How about I do something about it? My brain, used to my negative ways, was having none of it.

“Yes, ok, but you don’t have a great track record with gym attendance, you know that”

“well, how about I challenge myself?”

“how about you don’t fool yourself into thinking you can, when you know you will fail?”

“well, how about for once I don’t try to talk myself out of something and I simply give it a go?”

And so I did. I went to buy a pair of trainers, some yoga pants, I dug up a shirt from my (extremely old) gym clothes and I asked one of my gym fanatics colleagues, my beloved Elena, to take me to the gym no matter what. I imposed myself to stop overthinking and to start doing. And I enjoyed it. And I haven’t stopped going since. And when I want to stop, which is like every time I have to go, I know I just have to wait for Elena to hover around my desk; she will start by kindly asking me to grab my things and go, and when I start “mmmm I don’t feel like it today…. I’m mmmmm not ok…” she will cut my crap there and then and force me to overcome my laziness. She will put up with my moaning like a pro, so long as my legs are moving towards the gym. And then, she will endure a class with me huffing and puffing and ranting “what the fuck have I done?” “why did you make me do it” “this is the last time I swear” “fuck this shit I’m out of here” “I’m dying and I’m not inviting you to my funeral” etc… I know, I’m so bad!

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You better work bitch!

Oh my, the time I had the brilliant idea to ask the personal trainer of our office gym to give me a lesson. I was so geared up. I spent all morning shouting positive affirmations, blasting heavy metal out loud, I was on fire. I went to the gym all motivated and ready to slay it.

“Farrah, I got dumped and I want a revenge body: I want amazing abs and a bum hard as a rock! I want to be a goddess”

“how hard are you prepared to work?”

“BRING.IT.ON”.

She did bring it on. Oh God, she did.

She gave me an hour of total hell. She pushed me, and pushed me, and pushed me some more, till I begged her crying that I just couldn’t take it anymore. She didn’t give in and pushed me even more. My body hurt for 2 weeks solid afterwards. I felt paralytic. I put my heartbreak into perspective: yes, it hurts, a lot, but I take that anytime compared to wishing to chop off half of my body.

I am proud to say that I didn’t surrender. If anything, it made me want to do it again. And

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gym time!

I kept training hard. Because I hate it, yes, but I love it too. I really do. It is helping not only my physical health, but my mental health as well. For once I not only feel great, but I also look great. On the path of my personal greatness, I have embraced this torture and, for the first time ever, I’m really putting an effort into it: I changed my diet, I changed my attitude, I stopped telling myself “Silvia you can’t” and swapped it with “Silvia, how about you try?”. I even ended up lifting weights! I’m proud of my body and I’m proud of myself.

… what’s today class, by the way? Total Core? Oh no. I’m too tired. I can’t be arsed. I’m just staying here today, I think I can give it a miss…. Elenaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa help!!!!!!!!

GREEN IS THE NEW PINK

Before puberty hit me hard like a brick thrown at my face, when someone tried to make me feel like a freak of nature I simply shrugged my shoulders thinking “whatever – who cares, you boring prick!”.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that being different and quirky didn’t have an impact on me;

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In case you wonder, I’m the one with the white shirt and hideus shorts on the right side.

it did, and still does to this day. However, being an only child taught me how to be perfectly fine alone: boredom was something unknown to me, I never felt the need of having someone to play with, therefore being rejected and isolated has never been a massive issue. It was just an ordinary day in my life. Of course, I liked having friends and being with other people, but it wasn’t something I necessarily missed when I didn’t have it. Later in life, being an outcast became a badge to wear with the upmost pride, but I’ll discuss about this in depth on another post.

The problem was that, even though I was kind of ok with the whole me-being-weird thing, my parents had to endure the pain of dealing with an environment which was pretty clear on the fact that I was not acceptable as I was. Since they weren’t forcing me to behave as society expected me to behave (aka: as a girl), and they were not remotely bothered to make me change, they were considered bad parents who got it wrong somehow along the way.

Hey, we are talking about Italy in the 80s: not exactly the land of the free. Ok, it wasn’t hell on Earth for sure, such as Iraq under Saddam Hussain, but with the Church having a massive influence on people and dictating what was ok and not ok, Italy wasn’t amongst the most progressive and liberal countries either. Italians’ mentality was quite conservative, especially in towns and villages.

Hand on heart, I couldn’t have wished for better parents (ok maybe wealthier – but I am digressing here). They fiercely encouraged me to be what it felt right to be, rather than what was expected; they have been on my side through thick and thin without questioning whether “it was appropriate for a girl” to say / behave / act like I was. Most importantly, they have never been ashamed of having this non-ordinary child.

In their eyes, I was their precious, much longed-for daughter, arrived after 7 years of trying, with all the heartbreak that a situation like this brings. My mum told me she saw every gynaecologist she could, tried every diet, exercise, ritual, you name it, she even when to see one of those “healers” who claim they can fix you with the power of magic (no joking, she was THAT desperate) because she was convinced she had some curse casted on her. When I finally made it into this big world of ours, alive and in my parents’ arms, in their eyes I was nothing short of a miracle. I think I could have been a three-headed grizzly bear that it wouldn’t have made any remote difference.

As said, I grew up in Italy in the 80s, and unfortunately, the rest of society was not as open minded as my parents, and society liked to point out to them what a weirdo I was. People constantly questioned my sanity, my sexuality, my clothes, my toys, my hair, their parenting skills, everything! Whether we were walking in the streets, queueing at the supermarkets (yes, sometimes Italians queue too), shopping for clothes or simply at the park having fun, more often than not someone had to pass their judgement about me.

Unlike today, where people are losing their minds about “the gender issue”, making everything neutral and gender-less, back in my day (gosh I sound like a dinosaur!) you had boys’ things or girls’ things. End of.

“Normal” girls had dolls, Barbie dolls, toy versions of household items so that they could play at being little housewives and so on. Everything in their world, from their bedrooms to their toys was pink, full of glitters and sparkling. They watched Disney movies and dreamed to be Disney princesses waiting to be saved by Prince Charming.

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Pretending to ride my auntie’s extremely old Piaggio Ciao (I think). I thought it was the coolest hting ever. Then I discovered Ducati motorbikes….!

I, on the other hand, had a vast collection of Formula 1 cars and well, cars in general, teddy bears, Lego blocks and WWE wrestlers action figures. My bedroom’s walls were plastered with AC Milan footballers and Ferrari’s cars. I dreamt of joining the A-Team and be best friend with Mr T / B.A. Baracus; I longed to marry Tom Selleck / Magnum P.I. and go and live happily ever after with his Ferrari in the Hawaii; I wanted to buy KITT from David Hasselhoff / Michael Knight; jet on wild adventures with the guys from Riptide (can you tell that Italian TV in the 80s was SO Americanised?!!); I would have rather chopped my hand than touch a doll. Or a skirt. Or anything pink. Or feminine. EWWWWWW!

If now it is considered outrageous, retrograde, and unacceptable to have “blue-for-boys / pink-for-girls” things, when I was a kid this was the absolute norm and you didn’t have a choice on the matter. I know, by today’s standards, that little me holding my mum’s hand whilst I point at the creepiest, ugliest, weirdest creature in the toy shop (in the boy’s aisle, of course) was nothing special, but back then? Trust me, you had to have a mum like mine to survive the looks, the nasty side comments, the (unsolicited) pity, the disgust that people threw at us, at me, the weirdo tomboy destined to be a crazy lesbian mad cat lady (like if there is anything wrong with being lesbian, or crazy, or a cat lady, or these things combined).

My mum. Well, she is one hell of a woman. She is not someone who can keep her mouth shut and just take it. She is feisty as hell and has an extremely short fuse; if you make her angry, you won’t forget it. If you say or do something stupid, she will embarrass you by yelling everything she can possibly yell at you: put it this way, no one should dare to be at the receiving end of her anger. When I think of it right now, I’m seriously impressed of how my mum managed not to end up in jail.

To give you an idea of what I am talking about, here is a little story for you.

One day my mum and I were in a little, family-run stationery shop. I was a 5 years old little girl. The trendiest thing to have at that point in time, bless us silly kids of the magnificent 80s, were tiny little soap bubbles bottles charms that you’d wear in a cord necklace and then brag about what amazing tiny soap bubbles you could make. It was a very cheap thing, and my mum decided to buy me one. So, in we were at the shop, and I was so excited I could barely breathe. We weren’t rich (we made it to the end of the month somehow), so buying a toy was a real treat. The shop attendant, a man in his 50s, asked me to pick a colour. I was too shy, too overwhelmed, too OMGMYMUMISREALLYBUINGMETHISSHIT! that what came out of my mouth ended up being a bold and loud “GREEN!”.

The shop assistant looked at me like I just cursed in the middle of a church.

“Sorry, what did you say?”

“GREEN! (are you deaf ffs???)”

“…green… are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure! Green is my favourite colour!”

“But…. are you really, really sure?”

“Yes sir!”

Behind my back, my mum was reaching boiling point. In my 5 or so years old mind, she is just fed up of being in that shop. In reality, she was quickly calculating how many years of jail she would have gotten if she choked the guy on the spot. She was hating that nonsense.

After some more “are you sure – yes, I am”, the shop assistant said the thing that finally triggered my mum’s fury:

“But green is not a colour for girls!!!! And you are a girl! Look at AAAALL these pink ones! Wouldn’t you prefer one of these?”

Like the thunder that you hear rumbling in the distance before it explodes with a bang worth of 10 nuclear bombs, I could hear my mum’s going from 0 to “volcano eruption”. She slammed her hands on the table. Time suddenly stopped there and then.

She then started barking like a total mad dog.

“NO, SHE DOESN’T WANT IT PINK O-K? SHE DOESN’T LIKE ANY FUCKING SHADE OF PINK, OK? SHE TOLD YOU GREEN TWENTY TIMES NOW. IF YOU HAVE HEARING PROBLEMS GO AND GET CHECKED! SHE SAID GREEN OK? HOW HARD CAN IT BE? IS THERE A LAW AGAINST GIRLS WHO LIKES PINK? ARE YOU DUMB OR JUST ANNOYING US FOR FUN?

CAN – WE – HAVE – THAT SHIT.

IN GREEN.

NOW?

AND NOT JUST ANY KIND OF FUCKING GREEN! IT MUST BE BLOODY EMERALD GREEN. AND QUICK”.

The shop assistant went white as a ghost – he was so not expecting it. He probably though my mum was about to yell at me something like “for eff sake Silvia cut the crap you are not a boy get this pink-y shit and let’s go”.

He tried a timid “…but…” but my mum was now on full hysteria mode and she was not having it anymore “BUT WHAT? BUT WHAT?”. She grabbed my hand so hard I thought she was going to break all my bones (but I didn’t dare to make any sound or to look in pain) “CAN WE HAVE THAT FUCKING THING IN GREEN RIGHT NOW OR DO WE HAVE TO BUY IT IN THE SHOP NEXT DOOR, UH?”. The guy quickly gave me the green little bottle, my mum paid, she stormed out of the shop and that was the last time we ever shopped there. I was petrified. I was so embarrassed. I spent my youth avoiding walking in front of that shop in case the guy saw me and told me like “no wonder why you are so weird, with a mum like that what can you expect?”

Back at home, I stared at my object of great desire, this tiny little bottle in my tiny little hand. It was so cute, but it also reminded me of my utterly pissed off mum. I never worn it. I preferred to let my mum believe I didn’t want to lose it rather than admitting I was hiding it in my drawer because it was a constant reminder of what happened: me being not average girl who loves pink resulted in her having to lash out at the shop assistant to defend me.

ON A JOURNEY THROUGH THE DARK

My name is Silvia and I’m a woman who has been through a lot of ups and downs.

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Yep, my life felt just as that poor plant I killed at the office: hopelessy dead!

I am not a coach, I am not a doctor, I am not some made up expert graduated at the university of life with a master at the school of the street. I’m quite a quirky character, I have a very low level of f@cks to give, and life handed me some interesting challenges to face. I am (not proudly) famous for my Guinness World Record low self-esteem, my incredible ability to self-sabotage myself, my outstanding skills in coming up with negative, horrible things about myself to say to me and to everyone willing to hear; oh, and I absolutely hate(d) my body, the way I look, the way I am and even the way I am not.

It took me 35 years and being brutally dumped by what I thought was the “love of my life” to finally say “FUCK THAT”, kick me in the arse and decide to change, and to do it for real, no holds barred, no excuses, no limits, no ifs or buts.

I’m not even sure why I suddenly decided that it was about time to do something for me; something deep down inside me was probably fed up of dealing with the same old pain and the same old negative narrative over and over again. And now, a broken heart (again) and more pain, yey! I sat on the sofa, my heart in my hands, my eyes red and swollen for crying desperately non-stop for hours, miserable as an absolute fuck. And then, it felt like something clicked a button in my brain and I had a moment of “hooooold on a second here, how dare you talk shit about me? I’m awesome, and I’ll prove it!”.

In the space of a moment, I realised that in all that pain, in all that hell, I had a choice: I could have sat there some more, crying till the point of being admitted to A&E for dehydration, keeping feeling a helpless victim and telling myself “ooohh poor me”

OR.

Or I could still ride the hurricane of pain playing havoc in my life, because let’s face it, if you are hurt, you are damn hurt and your feelings deserve to be acknowledged and respected, but do something to improve my life whilst I nurse my wounds and recover from this one hell of a beating. My brain went into overdrive: ok what do I do now? What do I want? What activities I can do here, now, in this exact moment? What are the things I hate about myself? Why I hate myself, by the way? How can I be more positive? How can I change, but not “change” for the sake of filling couple of months of heartbreak: how can I change, for real, for good, and shine?

I ran crying to my close friend Marge. She is not only my wonderful, much loved “office wife”, but also (and most importantly) one of my best friends, a sister, my heart, and soul. She is Estonian and, unlike me, she is way less emotional and has her own Estonian way to tell you stuff as it is: she doesn’t lie, and if you look like shit, or behaving like a twat, she won’t hold it back or sugar-coat it. She is my source of positive energy and the most powerful enemy of my negative self. Every time I dare to say something bad about me, she yells “Don’t say it again or I’m going to slap you in the face!”. We talked, and talked, and talked, and talked some more, then we both decided to help each other on our quests for “better selves”. She is the reason I am writing this: in one of our chats, she said “you are so good at writing, you should write about it!”. Well, why not? Why not documenting my journey, share some insight, get stuff out of my system, and maybe help someone who’s facing my same issues?

So here I am. Welcome to my journey on personal improvement. I will write about all the things I’m experimenting, all my (real) efforts in the path of greatness, all my “ok this didn’t go exactly as planned” episodes (believe me, knowing me, these will be many and hilariously embarrassing), all the self-help books I’m reading and everything else that is currently going on in my life. Also, I will write about my past, opening my heart and soul (and memories) because the person I am know is the result of what happened, and I can only change if I fix those negative things right?

By the way, I’m trying not to be too anxious about this blog, but I’m famous for starting things, telling myself “aaahhh booooring” because I cannot be arsed to keep doing them and then quit. Therefore, I am using this experience as another tool of self-improvement, and I am forcing myself to write stuff up as often as I can and to NOT put my habitual half-arsed efforts (and then be fully-disappointment when things don’t work up… genius, eh?).

I can do this!

TOMBOY…WHAT?

I don’t remember the exact moment I started hating myself: that was something built over time from puberty onwards, however I do remember the exact moment I realised I was not “the norm”.

I was at nursery, around 4 years old.

After a very brief, traumatic experience at a public nursery close to where I lived (and it was SO BAD I still have vivid nightmares about it!), my parents decided to put me in a private, catholic nursery run by nuns. Oh, those were the days! The environment was so much quieter and nicer, the nuns were strict but kind, the food was great… what’s not to like?

One afternoon, I was in the nursery garden enjoying some nice sunny weather. I was eating bread with a dark chocolate bar inside (yes, no kidding, that was nursery afternoon snack!) and I remember looking around, David Attenborough style, at the “wild” life around me. All these boys being so…. Boys. So cool. Playing all the shit I liked best. And all the little girls being so… girly. Ewwww. They all looked like mini princesses, with their beautiful long hair, their pretty dresses with those super fluffy skirts, their princess-y behaviour, playing with their equally-pretty dolls. There was one girl, in particular, that impressed me the most. She was called Nausicaa: long, blonde hair, incredibly blue eyes, blue lovely dress, she was a total living doll. The one destined to be the Holy Mary in every nativity play. To this day, I have never seen a kid as beautiful as her.

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not exacly looking like a girl, nope

And then there was me, the scruffy one wearing shorts and t-shirts, probably covered in mud for running around, with my messy hair in a messy pony-tail, horrified by all these weird species of little people so similar to me in body features, and yet so different…

Like, worlds apart different. Like… I was an alien that just dropped out of a planet on the opposite side of the universe kind of different.

I was sitting there, hoping the boys would invite me to play football (AH! Not a chance, boys don’t play with girls), gazing at the girls and trying to interact – somehow – with them. Rather than be alone in a corner, I decided to move towards the group of girls nearby who looked like they were organising some games to play. They were sitting in circle and one of them was up, pointing her little finger and deciding who was playing which character: “you are the mummy queen”, “you are the magic fairy godmother”, “you are the princess”, “you are another fairy”, “you are….” And so on.

Once she finished, I asked “and what can I be?”

“oh… well, you can be the prince!”

“the prince? But I’m a girl!”

And there, the little girl said the sentence that changed my life forever, for good or worse: “no, tu sei un maschiaccio, non puoi fare la principessa!” (no, you are a tomboy, you can’t be a princess!).

WTF is a tomboy????? How dare you? WTF are you talking about bitch? I’m going to slap the shit out of you so hard that the only thing you’ll mother will find when she comes to pick you up will be a handful of glitters.

Up till then, being an only child, living in my own little fantasy world, I thought I was “the average”. Actually, no, I just didn’t think anything about it at all. My world was anything and everything that lived in my mind. I was the master of my own reality and I couldn’t contemplate that a (very) different situation existed outside the comforting walls of my house. You could say that my parents should have warned me; yes, maybe, but… why? I was just not girly, hardly the crime of the century!

I can’t say I ever felt that I had the mind of a boy in a body of a girl. I still don’t. I have never been insecure about who I was / am: I was a girl. I liked boys. The end. I never liked girls and I still don’t to this day. I was “normal” on paper. My brain was just not feminine. It still isn’t. It didn’t feel weird, or bad, or something I should have kept hidden and be ashamed of. I didn’t know any different anyway. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to compare myself to, and the only relatives I had of similar age where on an island (Sardinia) in the middle of the frigging Mediterranean sea, I saw them once a year during summertime and that was it. We didn’t have social media in the 80s, we didn’t even have the internet (!!!), you barely had the chance to use the landline to ring your friends to ask them if they had permission to go out and play. Or, you wrote letters, who unlike nowadays it took AGES to get to the recipient (if they ever reached it anyway), and by the time you got your answer back you forgot what the heck did you ask in the first place!

In my blissful solitude filled with games and imaginary friends, all was cool. There was just me, and me was just fine.

That day though, life slapped me hard on my face and suddenly I realised I was not “normal” anymore. I shockingly discovered that, apparently, I was the exception, not the rule.

No matter how much I tried to fight it, I had to face the brutal truth: I was (wait for it – hyperventilating moment)

D I F F E R E N T.

Not just “she is blonde, I’m brunette” different.

Not just “I’m tall, she is short” different.

Not even “my family poor and yours is rich” different.

I was different on a deeper, intimate level, at the very core – something that, like an unfair life sentence delivered by a gavel-tapping judge, I had to quickly learn to put up with it and embrace it or succumb to its pressure.

And so it began my life in the-real-world.