My Dad was only one of the things that broke my self-confidence as I was growing up. To say he was the sole reason would be like saying the police were solely responsible for my breakdown in 2016. They weren’t, but they have to take some responsibility for the lack of support they give to their staff who wallow away in their own sea of mental torment. Most police officers who struggle, keep to themselves, with the police very keen to keep any idea of support networks tucked away in closets just in case the problem oozes into the public arena. We can’t have that because it will highlight just whats going on…..I digress.
When I was born I was a cute little thing but was blessed with a big head. That head became they bane of my young life as I was growing up. Apparently a big head can be an indication, amongst other things, of Asperger’s or Autism, it’s certainly not an indication you have any brains. That was highlighted with a stunning 26% in six form certificate mathematics. I was never the brightest kid in class but I was fortunate that I never graced the company of the “thick kids” either, and subsequently never married an “inked lady” with her front teeth missing.
My large head played havoc with my confidence, with my school photos becoming somewhat of an embarrassment as the size of the thing sitting on my shoulders cast a shadow over all the good-looking people. I always thought of myself as a bit of an ugly, gawky looking kid who would have looked more at home in a leper colony and as a result never treated myself to the fairer sex. I couldn’t use my tongue to kiss a girl because it was usually tied up in knots. That lack of confidence ran through into my teenage years with the only thing getting between my legs being the saddle of my bicycle as I committed to racing bikes. Virginity hung around me like some festering sore and it didn’t heal until 1979 when I was working in a mental asylum in South London. Netherne Hospital was a welcoming relief for me….no pun intended….as I took great delight in exploring the workings of the local “nurses home”.
I struggled with self-confidence as a kid and young adult and to this day I still don’t understand why. I considered myself as average and that transposed itself into my results in life. I was a consistent person and you could say I was a jack of all trades but a master of none. But that analogy is part of the problem because all these thoughts are my downfall. I’m a shocker for doubting my own ability and those doubts drive a lot of what I don’t do in my life. If I sit back and look at myself I realise that others have more confidence in my ability than I do in myself. And there lies the problem because when you think like me you create your own hurdles or in my case I subconsciously drive myself back to where I think I should be.
In 1981 I joined the Metropolitan Police and went to the Hendon Police College. As I have said before I was no rocket scientist but I wasn’t stupid. During that course we had three exams to pass. Failure at anyone of them meant goodbye to a career…pass mark being 60%. In the first exam I got 80% and was shocked. I worked hard for that mark and studied my butt off and I think I was fairly high up in the class, but for me I wasn’t use to being there and being up the front end of the class was something I was decidedly uncomfortable with. So, what did I do, I slackened off and didn’t study as hard, next I got 70% and I remember feeling more at ease about my position in the class but the rot had set in and come the last exam I scrapped through with a 60.25%….now thats the Michael I know.
In 1984 I was playing rugby for the Metropolitan Police, back then they played the top teams in the country and I was a consistent 2nd team player. This particular year I decided to train my butt off and get into the first team. I wasn’t the best player on the team but I was going to make sure I was one of the fittest. Sure enough I got selected to play in the first team against New Brighton. I was blessed to be in the same company as Paul Ackford and John Gallagher and I remember travelling on the bus thinking, I shouldn’t be here, these guys are all so much better than me….they weren’t but, I had sown the seed. 30 minutes into the game and I was having a blinder and the ball had been passed out through our back line from the base of the scrum. As I scampered across the field to the breakdown I felt someone tugging at my jersey and as I looked around I saw an opposition player with a great big smile on his face. That was a red rag to a bull for me and I subsequently clocked him with the old swinging arm across his face. I received the relevant punishment and was booed off the pitch by the home supporters as I took an early shower. I received a months ban for my trouble and when I returned I broke my leg in a friendly and never played for the first team again. That seed I planted in my head 5 weeks earlier had been fed with my own negativity and eventually settled me back into where I believed I should be….in the second team.
My insecurities about myself and my subconscious beliefs about what my status in life is, can have me opening the same old doors and therefore keeping me away from new opportunities. New opportunities make me anxious and what is anxiety: Anxiety is overstating the problem and underestimating your ability to deal with it……me to a tee….until the next time.