You may have noticed I like to talk about myself.
This blog is basically made up of post upon post of me, talking about me. My social media feeds are a big enormous Lotte party. And, although I claim to detest the letter ‘i’ (curse you, O Ruiner of Scrabble!), I’m thinking my book is going to be comprised almost entirely of it.
I. I. I.
Me. Me. Me.
Lotte. Lotte. Lotte.
I know my self-absorption isn’t desirable. Focusing on oneself just isn’t… done. (I was going to say it wasn’t British, but as a French woman once screamed in my face “you are useless… all you do is stare at ze belly button Lotte!” I guess it’s a more global thing.)
We are not meant to be about Me.
We are meant to be all about Everyone Else.
This was hammered home to me aged 6 when, bedecked in a chocolate coloured bobble hat and yellow criss cross tie I promised to “think of others before myself… and to keep the Brownie Guide law”.
(Aside: I only question now whether the Cub Scouts had to promise the same thing, or whether they got to promise to battle with tigers or something cool like that. After all, they got campfires and penknives while we learnt washing symbols and macrame. Ahhh the 1980s. Anyway).
I’m a good girl, so growing up I kept my Brownie Promise and worked hard do right by everybody else. To be helpful, to be kind, to be likeable; to do what was expected, to do as I was told. I smiled and cared and gave and did my best to keep my shameful selfishness out of the equation as much as possible.
I didn’t factor in my life.
But here’s a thing. If you neglect yourself, you get unhappy.
If you decide that you - your own needs, your own desires – are of no importance, you get really fucking unhappy.
And if you are really fucking unhappy for too long you get really fucking depressed. And if you get really fucking depressed you have to spend a huge chunk of your life numbed to fuck by drugs and a huge chunk of your income on fucktonnes of therapy in the desperate hope that one day you won’t wake up wishing you would die.
I was one of the lucky ones. I did the work and it worked. I want to LIVE.
And the crucial factor in my success?
Examining my Navel.
If you’ve not had the privilege of being in counselling (and if you haven’t you should try it, it’s great), it involves talking about yourself. A lot.
At 5.30 every Wednesday for just over two years, I sat in a camel coloured IKEA armchair (no black couch for me) and talked about myself. At first it felt super uncomfortable: I kept asking my counsellor about her week, attempting small talk. But she was having none of it, and I was paying her, so I did what she asked and I talked. And I talked and I talked and I talked and I talked.
And eventually it became second nature.
And eventually it felt good.
And eventually I uncovered some important things, about myself, about why I was unhappy, about how I could get happy, about my hopes, my dreams, my values, and how I could live my life consciously, purposefully and like I fucking mean it.
And I learnt that I mattered. And I learnt that I was enough.
I’m pretty sure that unpicking the contents of my bellybutton saved my life.
Exploring who I am makes me a better person. Stronger. More Confident. More fucking USEFUL actually, Mrs Shouty Gallic Lady. By putting myself first I find I’m better placed to give.
So I’m going to keep doing it. Loudly. Proudly.
I have no shame about who I am.
And neither should you.