Saturday evening, and Lisa Tarbuck has just played Seventeen by the Regents on her Radio 2 show. It was in the charts in 1980 when I actually was 17.
I bought the single and played it as a kind of inspiration to become a new and better person.
I think my obsession with becoming someone new and better started when I was lucky enough to go on a Mediterranean cruise with the school when I was 15. Mum told me that Paul Garrett from number 4 came back from a similar cruise a better person (according to his mum) and hopefully I would return similarly transformed.
The song contains the line “All the girls just love to hate you and all the boys they want you.” Or words to that effect. I wanted to become that person.
But the words that really counted were “someone’s dream, created your perfection”.
Because I wanted to be perfect.
I didn’t want to be this person crippled with shyness, hangups and uncertainty about the future.
I would write lists of rules for myself that looked a bit like this:
1. Be a beautiful person all the time
2. Do homework on time (I was already a serial procrastinator)
3. Talk to people without blushing
4. Stop watching Charlie’s Angels
Obviously these rules set standards for me that were impossible to maintain.
Charlie’s Angels was my guilty pleasure. It was so glamorous. And set in that far off and wondrous place called America where everybody had flicked hair and wore flavoured lip gloss.
But strictly speaking, Charlie’s Angels wasn’t allowed and had been filed under “rubbish TV” in the rule book of what could be watched on school nights. And secretly I thought it was rubbish too, but strangely addictive.
Hence making the rule for myself which I kept breaking when Mum and Dad weren’t looking.
I was constantly revising and updating the rules. And then feeling bad about myself for breaking them. It was a vicious cycle.
It wasn’t until mindfulness came into my life that I started to learn to accept myself as I am.
And slowly the urge to be different/be somewhere different/with someone different began to loosen it’s grip.