I have decided to write another blog alongside my usual informative one, this blog will be about whatever. My usual blog is designed to create a library of helpful things to current clients and anyone else that reads it online. This new blog might not always be about exercise, might be long and might be short. If I reference conversations that I have had with people please note that I would have ALWAYS asked permission to reference them.
Whatever : 2 = The terrible affliction of being orange and how I became a catwalk beauty
For many years now, I have generally been considered to be in the top 100 natural beauties of the world. While I’m very modest about these statistics, it clearly puts me in the super league of attractiveness. What you might not know is I haven’t always been this aesthetically perfect. I realize if you know me, that’s hard to understand, so I have decided to write this blog to help people learn how easy it is to switch from a frog to a prince.
Picture a school hierarchy based on, and in no particular order, looks, fighting skills, athletic ability (please note intelligence is not on this list as it was largely considered the opposite of cool at my school). Now picture a thin creature so tall it towered above everyone else, its hair so brightly orange that one would often mistake both the height and brightness for a lamppost. Now add in a nice layer of spots covering pale/orange freckly flesh, and you have probably the nicest description anyone would have offered me at school. Descriptions would vary by day, personal favorites were:
- Ginger Ninja
- Duracell (Black batteries with an orange top)
- Swanvesta (Matches with a red top)
- Carrot top
- Fire crotch
School, for me, was largely about combatting the huge difference in the way I looked compared to other people. Kids are cruel, and if you’re not the same, you are segregated. This meant no status, no interest from girls, and the doors wide open to bullying. I did, however, find a way out of the conundrum. My small friend circle and the people, I guess you could say I most connected with, were in the less cool section of the school. A combination of intelligent people that were into things like computers and a few of the non-sport people that just didn’t fit in anywhere. These people were largely picked on by the top-tier kids (attractive, good at sport, good at fighting). I, however, had no interest in being picked on and gathered a skill that could ward off most negative attention and give me the much-needed status. Without planning or research, I placed myself into the position of the class joker. I became funny, exceptionally naughty, and was always the first to commit any talked-about school-based crime. This put me in a position where the top-tier kids respected me and allowed me to continue my relationships with the kids I most resonated with. Unfortunately, this status provided me with laughs and not a lot else. No much-needed attention from the opposite sex, and my commitment to the cause meant that I paid zero attention to schoolwork and ultimately left school without an education. I classify this problem as the ginger curse. The Ginger curse is simply the act of being segregated due to something about you that is different, the curse being your reaction to this usually steering you in a negative and dishonest direction in an attempt to fit in.
Towards the end of school, I befriended a small group of people that were into rock/guitar music (being into music other than chart music at my school was not cool with the normal kids). One of them had a guitar, and I managed to get a guitar of my own. Suddenly, I started to have something that I was very interested in, not just because someone else said it was cool. I obsessed over listening to all of the music I could find and started to learn how to play the guitar. It was then that my personality started to appear. I started to like music and have an opinion on it based on what I actually thought, and the people in my group listened not mocked. I left school and decided to go to college to see if I could study music. The problem was my grades at school were terrible due to my behavior from being orange. I managed though to get into a starter class and found myself for the first time thrust into a group of people that looked at me differently. Everyone was into music, and everyone was dressing differently than the kids I went to school with. For the first time, people seemed to look at me based on the excellent length of my hair (I had grown it long) and the cool music I was into. I still, however, considered myself as I had trained to be at school, the unattractive odd one out. This, however, quickly changed. While I may not have been particularly book smart at the time, I seemed to be able to read people fairly well and had also had become an exceptionally good liar/blagger (skills perfected from getting out of trouble caused by the orange). It was here that I unintentionally decided to reinvent myself. No one at college was from my school, and this gave me the opportunity to act like I was more than I perceived I was. This new environment was non-judgmental, and the faux confidence was not noticed. Couple this with my wealth of education on how to amuse people and my newly learned skill of playing the guitar and boom, I was no longer just the joker. My face hadn’t changed, and my hair was now not only orange but was more of it!, something significant had changed though as for the first time, girls started to pay me attention, and I seemed to fit in. Life changed from that point; my confidence slowly shifted from an act to a reality. I got good at things and got good at dealing with people. I learned quickly how to present myself appropriately and discovered for the first time that the way I looked wasn’t just as simple as what I looked like. Many things happened from this point, good and bad, and the ginger curse reared its head occasionally but when it came to the way I looked, I now had a very different mindset. Over the years I have often thought about this and observed many occasions where my first impressions of someone ascetically vastly shifted once getting to know them. I say this genuinely, I could meet someone who fits all the criteria of standard beauty, and their actions and personality could somehow literally change the way my brain and vision sees them. This, of course, works in quite the opposite direction; you know those couples where you take a second glance and in the nicest possible way say to yourself “mmm er well I guess he must have an exceptionally large bank balance.” And phrases such as punching above their weight, etc., are stated. While the bank balance may, in some instances, have been a possible asset, why not consider that he or she might simply be confident, funny, kind, and have an exceptional personality. There partner might see them in completely different eyes to you.
But Leigh, I can hear you saying this is all just nonsense, it’s not real to think like this. The way I look is the way I look, and it’s ridiculous to think that any of this works. Well, have you seen my wife?
There is a great moment that I get to have, and it happens quite regularly. It’s usually in a shop or restaurant. There I am, with my wife. (My wife is 10 years younger than I, and joking aside is easily one of the most attractive people you or I could ever imagine). Something gets my attention from across the room, a bright orange glow surrounded by a confused but smiling face. It’s one of my kind. I can read the look easily, the look of how on earth have you managed that? mixed with the smile illustrating the realization that maybe the orange isn’t such a problem for them after all. I also get the nod occasionally from another of the orange people hand in hand smiling with their partner. Now just to add, I’m not boasting here; I’m just happy that there might be a chance that the orange person staring at me quietly might be like I was when I was young and by seeing me having cracked the code might begin a journey of self-confidence. Believe me when I was young there were no examples that I was normal given to me from society.
So where the hell am I going with all of this, and why, you may ask?
My job as a personal trainer isn’t just counting reps or programming exercise; it’s dealing with people. Some of these people might have opinions of themselves and their looks based on past interactions, past relationships, and have had their confidence either destroyed or possibly, like me, it was never there to start with. Building people’s confidence and helping people regain control over their health and fitness is my job, and the greatest tool I have is my own experience. I have gone from overweight to in shape and zero confidence to exceptionally comfortable in my own skin. Whether you just act it out until it becomes a reality or shift your perception by getting fitter and working on small changes in the way you treat people and the way you like to be treated.
To summarize, as always, I’m gonna make my list of ways to start looking at yourself in a more positive light.
- Blag it until you are it: Start to practice the art of acting. Look around that room and rather than place yourself at the bottom, assume for once that you’re up near the top. If it’s a professional situation, go up to and immediately introduce yourself and talk to the person that you would normally shy away from. This might take practice, but the act of doing this will help the realization that we are all pretty much on the same page. If it’s a social situation, just simply act confident. You don’t have to talk about the most interesting stuff; you just have to be passionate about things and make sure that people realize that your interests are making you happy. Continue to act out confidence and talk about things you love, and eventually you will realize that the act wasn’t so much of an act; it was just you finally breaking out of the character that you played based on other people’s opinions (or your perception of what they might be).
- Brush your teeth. Also wash.
- Work out: Simple really, work out and be seen to be invested in your health. The opposite is not great.
- Manners maketh man: Open doors, smile, be exceptionally polite.
- Listen: Listen to people. Make sure you’re listening, make sure that you are confirming that you are listening by actually talking about the thing that the other person is interested in. Don’t just wait for them to stop and then rant about your stuff.
- Practice quiet: Awkwardly trying to fill in all the gaps with nothing is not great. Be comfortable in silence occasionally.
- Remember things: Remember what people last spoke about, ask them about it.
- Dress well: Be tidy; don’t go to the shops in your slippers.
- Be passionate about something: Have a hobby, get good at it. Talk passionately about it. Having nothing going in other than work and sleep is not great.
- No one is looking at you: I have spent years and years in gyms, and there is one thing that is for certain. NO ONE IS LOOKING AT YOU. What I mean by this is that most people when they first go to a gym and are in their own perception out of shape are paranoid that everyone is going look at them and judge them. It’s mostly quite the opposite. What you will find is that most people, even those ones that are in ridiculous shape, are looking at themselves and probably thinking about how bad they look or maybe how great they look. Either way, they are usually not looking at you. In life, many of the people you look at and think wow have usually got a misconstrued perception of themselves based on all kinds of nonsense and are usually just worrying about there own things. Concentrate on yourself. Be a good person, be happy in your skin, and be seen to be working on all aspects of self-improvement.
- Be honest: I admit to and talk about things that some people would shy away from. The assumption that people might judge me for admitting my enormous failures is not something that enters my mind. It’s not that I don’t care what you think about me, but when it comes to things I have failed on or bad decisions I have made, as long as I have learned from them and made sure that I can see the positive side, I see that they are all just weapons for progressing in life. What other people are thinking isn’t my problem, as long as I always act appropriately and are polite, kind and truthful I don’t care if they don’t like me or think I’m strange.