I have all the time in the world for regret.
I was scrolling through Twitter this morning – something I’m trying to stop as part of a self-proclaimed ‘free your mind’ mantra – and I noticed a tweet from this guy.
‘Sam’ looks great, his profile picture boasts one of his impressive biceps and I always assume he’s one of these top of the world power gays.
But this particular tweet broke that template.
It read: ‘Insomnia. Sunday blues. Rut. Sad.’
How could someone who looks like him be sad? I realise how ridiculous and pathetic I was for even thinking that. But, that’s where my baseline for happiness is set right now through lack of self-body positivity.
My inner saboteur, who I call Missy, says: ‘Happiness and beauty are one in the same.’
This guy is human, even with the pedestal of beauty I – and many I bet – place him on, he is permitted to be down about something (Missy can’t possibly work out what, however.)
Being aware of this damaging thought process led me to ruminate over the potential irreparable regret of basing my own happiness on appearance. The truth is, as hard as I try and as shallow as it is, that’s where I am now – and I want to change for my own good.
I no longer want Missy to subconsciously trick me into certain beliefs and I will regret it if I allow her to continue.
What if I achieve muscle god power gay status and realise I’m still discontent like Joey is at times? What if, at the end of my life, I find I held myself back from enjoying it because of my demons?
I can’t continue setting myself up for regret. In recent years I’ve slowly begun to get the upper hand on Missy and work every day on changing her/my innate perceptions of reality; it’s a timely process and sometimes I have weak moments.
However, my fear of irreparable regret powers me to work against those convictions and my inner saboteur. Writing this in itself is therapy and motivation to keep going.
Gay men in particular share many self-imposed convictions and I’m certain by listing the things I’m in danger of living to regret I can provide myself – and potentially others – with a map to navigate around – and refer back to – these issues in the hope for a happier future.
1. Letting fear keep you lonely
I was overjoyed to make a few close friends when I moved to London alone. I created a little world for myself, but as it began to expand and gaps appeared I realised I shouldn’t rely on any one individual to provide me with a social life.
That said, those special friends are still in my life now and I wouldn’t change it for the world – I just don’t want to unfairly cling to them.
I have tried submersing myself in social groups or volunteering work but anxiety or fear has always stopped me from going back or properly integrating. I have recently joined a LGBTI Jujitsu club to widen my circle of friends, fill my time and develop a skill.
My future self says I won’t give up and let fear keep me at home, alone.
2. Letting negative body image rule your life
I previously wrote a comment piece about how I felt less of a person because of my body even when other things in my personal life were going so well.
In the piece, I describe how even though I have been successful in a professional capacity and in other ways, including managing to move to London on my own and changing my path – in my eyes, I still couldn’t shake the idea that I was lesser of a person because my body wasn’t ‘up to scratch’.
I wasn’t appreciating the things that were exceptional in my life.
My future self says I will learn to recognise when I should take pride and appreciate something regardless of where I am in other personal journeys.
3. Writing off the potential for friendship after failed dates
I used to take rejection so personally – and sometimes still can – when it came to dating, so much so that I wouldn’t even consider being friends with guys from failed dates.
Shutting that possibility off in my mind only does myself harm – What if we had a lot in common aside of attraction?
My future self is applauding me for managing – and enjoying – a friendship with an ex for the first time ever.
4. Being unable to enjoy your own company
I have a serious case of FOMO – so much so that I get down even I’m alone for an afternoon at the weekend. I moved to London to do amazing things, Why am I at home?
This attitude isn’t healthy for my mental health and although many of us feel lonely sometimes we have the ability to use that free time to do something productive.
My future self is grateful I now use my spare time to read books, go to the cinema alone, watch TED talks and learn Spanish on Duolingo.
5. Disrespecting your journey by always wanting more, now
I had a conversation with my friend the other day about our gym progress and he was frustrated about seeing others progress ‘better’ than him.
I pointed out he was comparing his journey to a snapshot of someone else’s – he doesn’t truly know the time, effort and sacrifice other people have made, let alone their starting point.
By advising him I also learnt a lot about respecting my own gym progress and working to be patient with something that is a marathon not a sprint.
My future self thanks me for being patient, persistent and working to avoid comparison.
6. Giving a damn about how many followers you have
I was desperate to have a following over 10,000 on Instagram – I hoped it would be validation – and I spent a lot of time staring at my phone and taking insignificant pictures hoping they would be noticed by strangers.
My future self knows those special moments in life are for you to remember fondly – not for others to validate.
7. Remember, letting your inner saboteur dictate your actions only leads to regret
When they say you’re your own worst critic they weren’t lying.
My future self is grateful I understand that voice never goes away, and it’s how you learn to overcome it – or work alongside it – that counts.
What regrets are you afraid of creating for yourself? Continue the conversation with Dan on Twitter.