**This is part 2 of the Bossy Series, for part 1, head here.**
*Awkward* – My childhood nickname was Margaret Thatcher.
Do you know how hard that is to tell you as a proud northern working class woman? For real though, that was it. It started with my Nanna Rita’s boyfriend at the time. His name was Charlie and he was awesome. Charlie took Nan out dancing multiple times a week, they holidayed in awesome places with their retired friends and notably the coolest fact about him – he had those cool paintings of dogs playing snooker and cards all over his living room. That was the first time i saw them and i still buzz every time sometimes makes reference to them now. I have no idea of what the story was with them, maybe i should look into it? Anyway..Margaret Thatcher..
So, it’s probably no surprise to you if you know me or have been following this blog for a while – but i can be pretty bossy. I feel like in my defence it’s the get shit done kind but i guess who am i kidding right?! Gender bias rhetoric moment though – can a guy be bossy? Rarely. I can’t recall a single moment i ever heard anyone call a guy bossy. A total dick yes, a jobsworth yes – but bossy, that seems to be mostly reserved for when a woman is asserting herself – whether she’s right to do so or just being a total dick.
So, i’m bossy. Bossy in that i have a low tolerance for ignorance, laziness, dishonesty, ungratefulness, manipulation or time wasting – i’m of the YOLO mantra variety – we’re here for a reason, we have a limited time and we should spend it with awesome people and do/see/experience brilliant things. Why not right? To me bossy is in reality – being firm in what you believe in, having courage in your conviction, setting goals for yourself to achieve and working hard to make them happen. I won’t attempt to paint myself as a perfect specimen and try to reclaim bossy to mean something truly 100% excellent and free from flaws, it’s not. But what it is, i believe, is a lot more complex than we expect and it has lots of positives within it too. It can still sit with vulnerability, introverted behaviour and shyness, something i don’t think is discussed as much.
Sometimes this can come across as abrupt, it can come across as rigid but let me tell you – it never comes from a place of arrogance, self certainty or the need to be right. I’m very passionate and i have a lot of strong beliefs but along with that is a strong sense of the dreaded imposter syndrome, incredible self doubt and what i’d say was the result of my working class childhood experience – a feeling that i’m not as clever as others, i’ll never be as successful as others or that i’m kidding myself even trying.
It’s hard for me to write that and even to think it. I’m doing myself a dis-service but honestly, i’d be doing this piece a dis-service if i didn’t continue to be honest. I didn’t grow up thinking i’d be someone, i grew up wanting to be safe, i grow up wondering if i’d ever be safe. I wondered if i’d even grow up at all and make it to adult life. I wasn’t conjuring up a plan for world domination in my childhood bunkbed. I had more pressing matters swilling around my head, like basic survival. When your base is not one of safety, encouragement or somewhere for you to build confidence and blossom – you start below zero. You have to work just to reach that status quo others start to build on from birth. You’re up against it and you can either aim high and try your damn hardest or you can continue to fight for your survival every.damn.day. It’s exhausting but the way i saw it, it was gonna be a fight regardless so why not summon the spirit i seemed to have from who knows where and kick life’s ass with every part of my being.
I wasn’t provided with a well-rounded view. I wasn’t encouraged to have any kind of views. I was aware of one view growing up and it wasn’t one i liked. I couldn’t make sense of it, i didn’t agree with it and therefore i had no respect for it. That for sure, set a precedent for my default mental settings even now. I had to ask questions, i wasn’t always given the right answer. So began the quest to constantly self evolve, to listen to my own mind and most importantly my gut. I began to read. I read everything i could get my hands on and it was always an exciting treat to come across a book, i couldn’t wait to feel the material of the cover, the way it smelt, flick through the new or worn pages and think of those who may have fallen in love with it before me or contemplated buying it in a shop. The truth is we didn’t have books in our house. No bookshelf, nothing. They didn’t exist in a place other than school. Which is why i guess i see them as a source of learning – even when reading a biography (which i prefer FYI but regularly experience comments as if they’re not proper books) i love learning about places i’ve never been, looking up references i don’t understand and considering the view points from others experiences as if first hand. I love a book, still to this day and like a lot of other people i know – i need to prioritise time to sit and read more than i currently do.
So back to Margaret Thatcher. Charlie used to say i reminded him of her. You’re probably thinking a northern working class man couldn’t mean anything other than offence when nicknaming someone after the iron lady but i know with all the certainty in my heart that was not his intention. He saw something in me others didn’t or chose not to. He took an interest in me that others didn’t or chose not to. He always used to say ‘She’ll be running the country one day, this one.’ It was a comment others in the extended family filed under bossy. I was different, i knew stuff and nobody likes a smart arse, Except the way he said it was a term of endearment, he saw my potential and at the time, Margaret was a force to be reckoned with, the girl boss of the 80s/90s whether people loved or hated her. He’d ruffle my hair and quiz me on general knowledge facts. I’d ask him to tell about where he’d been to in the world and to describe it. He thought his little lass mate was hilarious and annoying as hell in the same breath – but he gave me his time, he gave me support and most of all he accepted me and encouraged me. This was something new to me as it wasn’t offered up in abundance during my childhood.
Maybe i was born this way, maybe it’s a mixture of my working class roots – building on my noted fierce ancestors and the grit i was used to being around. Maybe it’s a mix of this and nurture or lack of it. Perhaps this spurred me on even.
I wasn’t running the country yet but i was now aware i could. Charlie died when i was 12 but he remains one of the most inspiring people throughout my life to date and his encouragement has stuck with me. I didn’t know what i wanted to be, i didn’t know where life would take me past my front gate but what i did know is that i wanted to make the most of my life. I wanted to learn everything there was to know, i wanted to see the world and i wanted to make sure nothing or nobody stood in my way.
Coming Up Next: Bossy (3): Take A Chance On Me