Just the way we are

Now I’m not the biggest reality TV fan, unless it has something to do with the medical profession, which harkens back to my days wanting to be a surgeon / ER doctor, but I came across this story today and it inspired me to write my first post of 2013.

I have always been a large bloke (something about metabolism, big bones or too many pies) and growing up in suburban South Africa as a large kid I was teased, just like any other “fat kid”. The names I was called varied wildly as I grew from a kid into a teenager, young adult and finally adult, but all had the same piercing effect which smashed my self-confidence. It got to the point as a young adult where I started making jokes about my weight before anyone else had the chance to get a jibe in.

Now I don’t write this to seek any “Shame, Mark, it must have been tough” comments or win any sympathy votes but to make people aware that bullying in any way shape or form is unacceptable . Be it a stutter, a weight problem, a large nose or a disabled / disadvantaged person, taking the piss out of them is neither funny nor does it make you clever or popular with your mates.

Lazaro’s story struck a strong chord within – to see him get on stage in front of millions of people and talk about what he has been through growing up, yet possessing the confidence to stand in front of some of the music industry “heavyweights” must have taken some serious “cajones”. I used to wonder how people plucked up the courage to do that, to stand up to those who had tormented them by showing that whatever had been said had not destroyed their self-belief / confidence and by showing them what an amazing talent they are.

I had my own epiphany when I was living in the UK in the late 90’s and since that day decided that people should accept me for who I am , not what I look like. My conscious decision is that if this is unacceptable to them then quite frankly I have no room for them in my life. People who know me know that I am who I am (don’t try saying that too fast!) be it at work, home, in a meeting or out for dinner, on a boat fishing with mates or in a meeting with suppliers or stakeholders.

Yes I know I am South African and the stereo types are rife but at the end of the day I am comfortable with myself, I have a large personality, I tell it it like it is. I like who I am! To those that bullied and teased – the only person I listen to now, who has anything to say about my weight, is my GP.