If you have read my last, ‘About Life' post, you'll know I made a decision, ten years ago, to leave my old life and start again. Now, I know a lot of people will say ‘you should have done that years ago', and they would be right! Others will think I must be soft in the head to let what other people think affect me like that, but that's to ignore the fact we're all different, and we all react to things in different ways. If you've felt like a misfit who's been trying to fit in for years, you'll know exactly what I mean! Anyway, like I said in the last post, this isn't a ‘self-pity piece', this is about how, if something's not working, it's never too late to change.
The reason I'm talking about this now, is because it's Christmas time, and it reminds me how my first Christmas on my own was quite weird. I was with my own family, but being on my own I felt a bit like an outsider. I decided right there that I didn't intend to be on my own for much longer, but how do you meet someone new when you've been out of the market for thirty years and your self-confidence is rock bottom? I figured internet dating would be the answer, and lucky for me, at about the same time, my wife Mary, was coming to exactly the same conclusion!
We arranged our first date towards the end of January, but I was so nervous, and so sure she wouldn't like me, I made up an excuse and didn't go! But I knew I was just being stupid and the guilt soon got to me. We re-arranged for the following weekend, and hit it off straight away. That was nine years ago, and we've been together ever since, moving to Wales in May 2014, and marrying the following August.
Just a week or so before we married, I published the first Dave Slater Mystery novel. This is significant because it's something I would never have been able to do without Mary's belief in me. Remember, when I first met Mary my self-confidence was so low I actually chickened out of our first date because she might not like me. Now here I was publishing a book. Just think how many people might not like that, and were being given the opportunity to say so where all the world could see their comments. That's quite a transformation, but how did it happen?
My life had gone full circle. Whereas I had been so unhappy I had become depressed, I was now so happy my whole demeanour and attitude had changed. There's no doubt removing myself from the source of my unhappiness was a big step forward, but it was finding Mary that made the biggest difference. After a lifetime of being told, ‘you won't be any good at that', I suddenly had someone in my life who said, ‘I believe you can do that, why don't you give it a try?'
I can promise you, it takes a lot of getting used to, but when you hear it often enough, you start to think ‘what if she's right?' Of course, that idea quickly gets pushed aside and you remember your mantra, ‘what if they don't like it?' and it's back to normal. Or, at least, it's back to normal until someone keeps insisting, ‘but what if they do like it?' And, eventually, your confidence begins to grow, you begin to believe in yourself, until finally, you take that leap….
And, I was right, some of them didn't like it…. but so many more did like it, that it didn't really matter. Now, of course, with experience and knowledge, I'm confident enough to know I'm never going to please everyone, and I accept everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether I agree, or not. But I know I would never have got here without the power of that belief behind me from the start.
I chose to make a drastic change to my life, but I'm not for one moment suggesting anyone else should do the same. I was desperate, and I knew something had to change. It's worked out it was the best thing I ever did, but that's because I then met someone who was prepared to invest their time and belief in me. I'm a really lucky man, and I know it.