I remember watching Sliding Doors and thinking “Yes, it could work, but life is what you make it.” I was naïve.
Up until that point I’d followed the tenets of life as it was required and expected. I’d bought a house, I’d been engaged. I’d found a steady profession which I thought would see me (sadly) through to retirement, I’d adopted a cat. Life seemed as normal and ordinary as any visit to B&Q on a weekend with the other masses of homeowners looking for the right bathroom tiles. Yet, something was missing. It stayed missing for 10 years, until my “Sliding Doors” moment.
A moment of empathy is required here. I need you to picture for a second that you have been driving around the Mid West of America on your own, separated from your boyfriend of 6 years, spending your days in the desert or amongst holidaymakers, avoiding rest stops that looked like you may get assaulted, yearning to get home to a warm, loving embrace at the airport. Got it? Now add in a facetime conversation where your love tells you that he can’t meet you at the airport because he’s going camping with his buddies in the New Forest. Then throw in the desperation of worrying about how you’ll get home, combined with trying to feel “fine” about the whole situation because that’s what you’re expected to do. Not the most amazing Heathrow moment.
I got home, moved out, moved into a flat and then sat on my own for a while. The boyfriend dumped me by text (better or worse than a post-it, I’m not sure). It was at this moment that the sliding doors moment happened. In the depths of my self-loathing and questioning a friend from 20 years ago invited me to her wedding reception!
The main thought in my mind was that 20 years earlier I had been thin and interesting. Now I was a fat, 30something, teacher who had just been dumped by text. Not the best mindset. Two amazing friends came to the rescue, taught me contouring, made me cocktails to take, spilt lots of blood and sent me on my way to the wedding.
That wedding? Sliding doors moment. If I hadn’t gone to that wedding I wouldn’t have my house, my social life, my friends, my partner and (hopefully) my new career in copywriting. One evening made all the difference. When I consider how close I was to walking away and not going because I was embarrassed by who I perceived myself to be, I shudder.
And so time for another moral: Other people don’t see what you see, so never be embarrassed by who you are….ever.