It would seem that Self LOVE is the most shared love story during this Guest Blogger Month series on Yankee Doodle Paddy. Yet each of the authors that chose to write about it has such a different way in which they impart the journey to their soul. Even as we read them, while surely inspired, anything gleaned will still be manifested through our own lenses in a different way. Because our personalities, experiences and essences are totally unique and beautiful. Hence self love is SELF LOVE, not “someone else” LOVE. The awesome Paul Broghall from Ireland found that out himself and bravely shares his love story with us.
I’ve been wracking my brains trying to think of what to write for this blog post. It’s not that I lack any sort of love in my life, it’s just that I want to convey it in a sincere way.
I was recently asked to write something on “being myself” and encouraging others to do the same. And while I was writing it, I realised how far I’d come from a shy teenager and twenty-something year old to the guy I am today because I learned to love myself and BE myself.
I found it difficult to even go into a chipper and order a bag of chips or a Chinese a few years ago. I’m 28 now and it genuinely was only a few years ago. My social anxieties were so bad and I didn’t even know they were anxieties at the time, I just thought I was weird. Doomed for a life of hiding behind others. A lack of self love and confidence.
I only realised while I was writing the article that my anxieties began in secondary school when people noticed I was gay, before I’d even admitted it to myself. So I felt like I stood out somehow. “If they noticed me, I must be standing out.” I became more introverted. Trying not to stand out. Dulling many aspects of my previous bubbly personality to fit into a crowd. I even dated a girl. (for a day) I wasn’t me. I wasn’t who I was meant to be and I didn’t love myself. I didn’t know it at the time. I just didn’t know who I was.
This anxiety stayed with me through much of my 20s until one day, I discovered art. Or I guess as cheesy as it sounds (I’m cringing) it found me. (Oh god, I said it!)
I created something called “Artistic Chicks” where I paint people with yellow skin and beaks for mouths and pose 5 little yellow decorative Easter chicks in front as the artists. It was quirky and new and really took off and celebs loved it and people loved it and it was featured in magazines, and The New York Times interviewed me about it and I just developed this love for art that I never knew was in me. Genuinely. I couldn’t draw to save my life before the idea came into my head and I practiced and taught myself to draw.
I was invited to events to exhibit which was really scary for someone with social anxieties, but I was meeting people at least. Something which I hadn’t been doing much of having lost touch with most of my friends at the time.
I painted some social media influencers as chicks and posted them on snapchat and tagged them too and they gave me shoutouts and I grew a following. I was already kind of dabbling in talking to my story. A mini vlog of sorts. Anxiously so, thinking everything I said was stupid and I didn’t like the sound of my own voice. But when I began to grow a following, I got messages from strangers saying they loved my stories, and my personality. For me, this was HUGE!
As time went on and I spoke more to my story, talking about normal things I’d done that day, embarrassing occurrences, social awkwardness, people connected with me I guess and I grew more followers, interacting with lots of them, my confidence grew tenfold. I could now walk into shops and strike up conversations with strangers behind the counter. Something which used to terrify me before. I had grown to love myself again, I was being the me that I’d repressed through much of my teens and I was happier for it.
Never be afraid of what others think of you because nobody really cares. Nobody sits at home all night talking about what you’re doing tomorrow or did today. Just be yourself, be quirky, be wild, be quiet, be chatty, be YOU and when people see that, they’ll love you because they see how much you like being you.
Thank you so much Paul for sharing your beautiful LOVE story! And for this awesome Artistic Chicks painting! I’m still blown away that they (you) painted me!!! You are such a sweet, gentle soul. You’re love of music, humor, and especially your lovely way with children has endeared you to so many of us that know you. And I am sure your star has only begun to rise! As it does, keep being you and mostly keep loving you!