Love What You Love – Screw What Anyone Else Thinks

Love What You Love – Screw What Anyone Else Thinks

In this post, I will be discussing self-harm. If you expect you will find this triggering, please do not continue reading. If you are struggling with this, there are people who can help you.

When I was 8 years old, my grandma died. It was a heart-breaking experience, and one I didn’t truly understand until I was much older. In fact, my counsellor thinks this event has been the root cause of several issues along the way – including, but not limited to, my intense fear of dying. That’s probably a blog post for some other time, though.

In the same month as her passing, a boyband emerged on the scene. Westlife. You may have heard of them. They had an incredible career for 14 years before splitting up in 2012. A few weeks ago, they announced they were reuniting and it’s one of the happiest moments I’ve had this year. So, to be upfront, this is partially an excuse for me to fangirl publicly about their reunion (ridiculously excited) but I do also have another point.

I had a huge gaping hole inside of me when I lost my grandma, but I was too young to make much sense of that. I didn’t know how to express it because I didn’t fully get it. In fact, I sometimes feel like I lived through losing her twice – once when I was a kid, and then several years later when the force of that loss hit me.

What I can make sense of is the fact Westlife seemed to crawl into that space and make me feel whole again. Sure, it helped that they were good looking and singing love songs that made me swoon, but rather than feeling a huge sense of loss, it was replaced with a sense of gain. They were to me what a comfort blanket is to a baby: something that brings peace.

Since then, I can’t tell you how many situations their music has helped me through. I listened to them when I was falling in love for the first time. Then, had them on loop when that same individual broke my heart in one fell swoop. I listened to them when my family were going through some tough times. When I felt lost and alone, I had their music to remind me that I wasn’t. Having moved around a lot when I was younger, I view them as the longest friend I’ve ever had. Their time in my life spanned over a decade. I don’t have a lot else I can say that about. They were – and still are – my safe place.

Something I haven’t disclosed previously is that I self-harmed when I was a teenager. There were events that happened, which left me feeling so raw with emotion, that I needed a release. These things triggered a spiral of self-blame and hurting myself seemed like an appropriate punishment. I needed to let that pressure out somehow, and that was the route I chose.

I did this on several occasions and went so deep that I still carry the scars to this day. Once was on my hand, and despite my attempts to hide it with my sleeves, people at school saw it, immediately knew what it was, and called me a freak. This didn’t help with the situation.

One night, I felt that temptation creeping in, and my head was very cloudy. I didn’t really want to be around anymore. Although, I want to make it clear that I never planned, nor attempted, ending my life, I felt the strong urge to disappear. So, I turned to that coping mechanism. I was about to do it when one of Westlife’s songs called Try Again came on. I’d listened to it a thousand times before, but this was a different experience. I heard and felt every word.

The opening lines are: “Hush now don’t you cry, there will be a better day, I promise you” and one of the later lines is “Smile now, let it go – hey, you will never be alone, I promise you.” So, you see why it helped? The song is actually about lost loves and relationships but that’s not the point.

It stopped me in my tracks, and I haven’t self-harmed since.

It’s not always like that. The relationship with self-harm is complex, but that was my light bulb moment. That’s what it took. I know, they’re not the coolest band to associate with recovery, but that’s how my story goes. I’m not going to rewrite it to impress people.

During school and college, I was bullied for being so obsessed with them. People scoffed, made jokes and had nothing pleasant to say. I never told those people WHY they were so important, because nobody cared to ask. But, what it meant was that nothing they say could have changed my mind. The value of this “stupid boyband” transcended whatever nonsense was being thrown my way by my peers.

These reactions only got worse as I grew older, because it was no longer just a case of “it’s not cool to like them” and became “aren’t you a little bit old to like them?” Considering I grew up listening to them almost every day, there was no way it was going to stop because I’d hit 18 and apparently ventured into adulthood.

The worst part of it all is that, at this stage, it worked. It was now other adults essentially telling me to get a grip, and I thought they had a point. For a while, I stopped mentioning the fact I liked them. When people asked about my favourite music, I’d give a vague answer, mention a few genres and hope they didn’t want to know specifics.

Thankfully, that phase was short-lived, because it didn’t feel right to me. There was no way I could keep it to myself forever, so why not be upfront about it? I love Westlife, for all that they are, and all that they represent. To hell with what anyone else has to say about that. It’s not really any of their business.

2018 has been one of the most challenging years of my life. It’s the year I became completely overwhelmed by my emotions, lost all sense of who I was and felt hopeless. I’ve made a lot of progress, but Westlife reuniting is symbolic to me.

Why? Because they are part of who I am, and just as I’m starting to rediscover EXACTLY who that is, they have reappeared. Realistically, I know that’s because it’s their 20th anniversary but there’s a little piece of me that feels it’s all happening for a reason. Just like they arrived exactly when I needed them 20 years ago.

We live in a culture where people try and shame you for liking certain things. Every single day, people make remarks about the things other people enjoy. I’m tired of it – maybe because I’ve lived with it my whole life for daring to own my boyband obsession, or maybe because I just don’t get it.

Life is hard, and whatever brings you joy is nothing to be ashamed of. So, you like watching Big Brother and becoming enthralled in all their drama? GOOD FOR YOU. You like to dance to One Direction when nobody’s home? AWESOME. You get your knickers from Marks and Spencer’s because they’re comfier than Ann Summers? EXCELLENT. Maybe you have a story like mine where something seemingly uncool has had a HUGE impact on your life. That’s wonderful.

Because the way I see it, life sucks sometimes and if there’s something, anything, that brings you a little bit of joy in amongst all of that, then you should be proud of it. Take those distractions and run with them. You shouldn’t allow anyone else to make you feel ashamed. Hold onto the things that make you feel happy, whether it’s what everyone else loves or not.

Next time someone has the cheek to question something you enjoy, just reaffirm yourself and respond with “well, I enjoy it.” That’s it. You don’t have to launch into defending yourself.

For the better part of my teenage years, I adamantly defended myself and Westlife, occasionally getting into very heated debates about them and it was a waste of my energy. I should have had the guts to say “well, I like them” and left it at that, but I felt the need to justify it. Although I never delved into those deep, personal stories, I’d reel off a list of reasons why I thought they were awesome, but I was never going to change those people’s minds any more than they were going to change mine.

Everyone has their right to an opinion. Part of what makes the world so interesting is that we are all different, and there’s a degree of value to that. But when these opinions slip into shaming, everything just becomes very unpleasant.

Love what you love, and screw what anyone else thinks. You probably have your reasons, and that’s all that matters. I could be delusional, but I’d like to think that the more we stand up to these people, the less they will do it. I can’t imagine it gives them half as much entertainment if they go to attack someone’s tastes and that person responds with “so what?”

These people usually feed off the frustration of others, when they try and stick up for things. Or, they go on a power trip because they’ve told someone something is stupid, and that person has been shamed into silence. So, don’t give that to them. And, I know, it’s hard when you’re in the situation, but take a second to think about what they’re getting from it and if you really want to give them that.

And – I can’t imagine any of my regular readers falling into this category but in case anyone else stumbles across this – if someone tells you they love something, if they’re in the middle of an enthusiastic speech about their favourite film, or song, or anything else, don’t cut them off with some judgemental remark. Let people bask in those moments, because they’re more important than any of us give them credit for.

Love What You Love - Screw What Anyone Else Thinks

Be Proud Of The Things That Bring You Happiness
It's Time To Make Guilty Pleasures A Thing Of The Past
It's Time We Stopped Letting Other People Make Us Feel Embarrassed

Do you have examples of this? Talk about them in the comments – embrace it, own it and be proud of it.

31 Comments

  1. 7th November 2018 / 11:32 am

    Ruth – this post is so powerful, and so gorgeous, and so wonderful, and I am immensely proud of you for always being so honest and opening up about trickier topics. You’re a ray of light and have such a sunshiney presence and I’m so grateful for your blog and you in general. I’m at the stage in life now where I don’t care if people laugh at me for loving what I love – I will love those things unashamedly and talk about them until the cows come home. And M&S knickers ARE superior.

    Cordelia || cordeliamoor.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:14 am

      Awww, Cordelia! I just have so much love for you – you are wonderful and always make my day, either with comments on my blog or responses on Twitter. I’m so glad you’re able to embrace the things you enjoy, too, now and heck yeah for M&S underwear!

  2. 7th November 2018 / 12:00 pm

    This post was so honest and raw, yet powerful and inspirational at the same time! It really sucked that the people around you kept feeling the need to tear you down based on your musical tastes (Which is such a dumb thing to even do).

    I have never self-harmed, but I did come really close to it once when I was in a toxic relationship, not to end my life, but I just felt that blood could solve things temporarily (I wasn’t in a good place then, I guess), but I also didn’t tell the other party because he seemed to think that people who commit suicide were attention seekers (seriously, wth bro?)

    During my toughest times, I turned to music and writing to help! I fell in love with Simple Plan, especially their song, ‘Save you’ and it really got me through the first time I experience horrible anxiety and attacks (I was 12 then and even until now I get them, but at least I am aware of what there are now).

    Keep spreading your optimising and make the world a better place! This post was definitely something really personal to you and I’m glad you shared this story with us and hope that you’re better now 🙂

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:16 am

      Thank you for sharing such a personal story in your response, Michelle! I’ve never understood why people get so caught up on music tastes and use it as a weapon. It really means a lot that you took the time to read my post, and be so open in return. I’m glad you found music and writing to help you through the tough times and Simple Plan are great!

      • 9th November 2018 / 11:24 am

        I definitely agree! People can like whatever they want and others should learn to respect that as well! I’m glad you found music to help you through your tough times as well! Hope you feel better!

  3. 7th November 2018 / 1:07 pm

    This is such a brilliant post Ruth, it is so well written, thoughtful and powerful. I love that you are so open, honest, genuine and not afraid to be who you are. Your story resonated with me in so many ways. My mum and dad divorced when I was 14 and I found it hard to cope and music (mainly Robbie Williams and Oasis) was my way of escaping from what was going on. Whenever I am feeling sad now, I’ll listen to them as they are so familiar, comforting and instantly make me feel better. I think music finds us exactly when we need it and cool or not, it is just part of our story. Thank you for sharing and encouraging us to embrace who we are (also, yay for comfy knickers) <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:18 am

      That must have been very hard for you to go through at 14, especially as teenage years can feel very uncertain and alien at the best of times! I’m glad Robbie and Oasis could be some solid ground for you. It’s true that music seems to find us exactly when we need it. Thank you, as always, for such a wonderful response, Bexa!

  4. G.
    7th November 2018 / 2:45 pm

    This is amazing Ruth!! 💛💛💛

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:18 am

      Thank you! 🙂

  5. 7th November 2018 / 2:53 pm

    This is a lovely post, Ruth. I can’t agree more, such people tend to feed off other peoples’ frustration. And, yes – death can be a very heart-breaking trauma to deal with. I’ve seen some closed deaths in the recent years too. I think I’ve heard of Westlife but Enrique Iglesias’s music has been to me what the band has been for you. It’s just sad that Iglesias hasn’t released a new album for a while now. Also, have you listened to “Crash and Burn” by Savage Garden? It’s a beautiful song and you’ll love the lyrics if you haven’t already listened to it. Consider it a recommendation for you from my end. 🙂 Again, beautiful post!

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:20 am

      Thank you very much, Masooma! I have indeed heard Crash and Burn, and I agree the lyrics are beautiful. Thank you for the recommendation, though, and for stopping by to leave such a kind comment! 🙂

  6. 7th November 2018 / 8:40 pm

    Such an open and honest post! Well written and such a power post to have shared with everyone. Very brave! It’s great for people to be talking so openly and honestly to talk about topics like this! Thank you for sharing, always enjoy reading your posts 💛

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:20 am

      Aww, thank you so much, Lauren! 🙂

  7. 7th November 2018 / 9:04 pm

    My Chemical Romance were – and still are – to me what Westlife are to you. It’s sad that when I was a teenager they were the only ones saying don’t self-harm and to reach out for help – and not anyone in real life! Whether it’s MCR or One Direction, it’s okay to love a band that much if they mean a lot to you. I also really admire how open and honest you were too, not everyone is brave enough to do that.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:21 am

      It is really sad, but I’m glad you were able to discover them and have them there for you when you needed it most. I couldn’t agree more that it doesn’t matter who it is, if they help you and have a positive impact on your life, then that should be celebrated.

  8. 7th November 2018 / 10:34 pm

    I love this post! I was mercilessly teased in my teenage years for things that I loved and enjoyed and while there is no way I would ever go back and change what I loved and still do love it certainly made life more difficult at the time.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:23 am

      That pretty much sums up how I feel, too. I feel peace about it now, but at the time, it could be quite intense and exhausting! Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  9. 7th November 2018 / 10:35 pm

    I love this post so much Ruth!
    I like a lot of things that may seem uncool to other people and im totally fine with that. As I’ve grown more comfortable with myself I no longer feel awkward sharing things I like or pretending I like other things to ‘fit in’ if only we thought like this at a younger age!

    Cara X
    http://www.caratigerlilli.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:24 am

      So true! It would be so nice to realise it when we are younger, but I suppose one of the (few) perks of getting older is the freedom of not feeling like you have to impress everyone and anyone.

  10. Sheila Anderson
    7th November 2018 / 11:02 pm

    Hi Ruth,
    Although this was difficult to read as your Mum I am really amazed at your ability to pen your thoughts! I would just like to add a wee bit for any parent reading your blog. If you find that your child / young person is self harming don’t ignore it. I remember a night that Ruth and I were walking our dog Skye when I noticed some marks on Ruth’s arms. I remember telling my self not to panic! I asked Ruth why. Ruth talked at length about the pressure she felt. Being bight can have its draw backs as schools put an awful lot of pressure on our young folk. I remember hugging Ruth tightly in the middle of a scrubby bit of land., trying to comfort and tell her how much she was loved that all I ever wanted was for her to be happy! We stood there for what seemed a while. Just holding each other. I never said anything to the rest of the family. I just wanted Ruth to know she was loved and cherished for who she is. I love all my children each have had challenges in their life. I hope Ruth you realise how very proud I am off you and I miss those walks we used to have. They were special moments that are treasured deep in my heart! Love you to the moon and back twice and then some! XOXO

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      8th November 2018 / 4:26 am

      Thank you for adding such a beautiful contribution, Mum. I’m glad you could provide an insight into what it’s like as a parent. The way you reacted at the time was beautiful, and I believe made a big difference on how I moved forward. You are an angel. You were amazing then, and you’re wonderful now. I miss our walks, too, but it’s nice when I visit and we can take the dogs out together – feels nice and familiar, as well as an excuse for a good chat. I’ve always cherished those moments together. I love you even more than that! ❤️

  11. 8th November 2018 / 2:16 pm

    I don’t know how you do it, Ruth, but this is another fabulous post. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for me either. Flora is very bright and sometimes gets teased about her interests (some of which are unusual for an 8 y/o) by other children, which upsets her very much. All I can do is tell her that they’re only picking on her because they know she’ll react. That if she can – somehow – just shrug and say “Whatever”, they’ll stop baiting her once they stop getting any reactions. And that no matter what, she’s loved. valued, and very much treasured. Also, your mum’s comment has left me with a very tight throat and prickling eyes. What a wonderful relationship you two have, you are lucky 🙂 xx

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      9th November 2018 / 1:18 pm

      I am incredibly lucky but, by the sounds of things, Flora is very lucky to have you, too! I’m sorry to hear she gets teased, though – kids can be so cruel. I hope she can learn to embrace all the fab things that make her who she is, unusual or not. x

  12. 8th November 2018 / 5:04 pm

    Brian here!

    I’m actually quite touched by this post in a lot of ways. So many people out there have unique coping mechanisms that help them deal with stress, trauma or other pressures and health issues, yet most also get mocked for it. I’m kind of glad that I was mocked for the things I liked at this point though. It taught me to be a stronger person in the long run and more so it taught me that people are who they are. Can’t change the world around you sometimes, but you can always maintain a thought on yourself and control of yourself.

    I’m glad you’re happy now where you are in life and that the past is mostly behind you. I’m sorry that bullies had to ever rule or dominate certain times where life was most difficult for you, but again I’m thankful that you grew and became the person you are today Ruth.

    I hope this post helps a whole lot of people out there and it gives them just that little bit of peace or at least courage to just.. stand up and be themselves.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      9th November 2018 / 1:20 pm

      What a wonderful, insightful response – thank you so much, Brian!

  13. 8th November 2018 / 11:21 pm

    Such a frank and honest post, Ruth. Thank you. You have to be strong to say “screw what anyone else thinks”. The need to project an image of oneself is compelling these days and is the source of a lot of stress, I think. If only we could all get to the stage where we are comfortable in our own skin and confident enough to dismiss those who would put us down.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      9th November 2018 / 1:21 pm

      I agree. I think it’s amplified by social media sometimes, too, when people rally around a certain thing and you’re not necessarily interested it – it can be hard not to think too much into it.

  14. 9th November 2018 / 4:51 pm

    This post is so, so important. Thank you so much for writing it. It’s a post I needed when I was younger, but, hey better late than never! This is something I think affects us all on some level. I’ve personally experienced a situation similar to this because of something I’ve loved. My boyfriend has as well, it’s the reason he refuses to share his taste in music with people, unless they’re friends, because he gets judged. I can’t wait to share this post with him.

    I never understood why people have to be so cruel about something that has nothing to do with them. Not everyone is going to like the same thing. I love that everyone has different likes and dislikes. It makes life a little more interesting. But what one person loves has no direct impact on another person, yet the attacks always get personal. There’s just no need for it. Let people love what they want. The world will be a much better place for it.

    I saw Westlife in concert once when I was about three or four, for my sister’s birthday, and I ended up falling asleep because I was so young, no idea how I managed it with all the screaming but I did. I was pretty gutted I fell asleep, but my sister did wake me up to my favourite song, although it was so long ago I can’t even remember what my favourite song from them was at the time, haha!

    This was an incredibly powerful post, Ruth. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      10th November 2018 / 11:26 am

      Awww, thank you so much, Kelly! It is, indeed, such a bizarre thing for people to make a fuss over. It’s not as though anyone is forcing to them to listen to that music – just saying that they enjoy it. Then again, I suppose kids (and even some adults) can be cruel and pick up on anything they can use to make others feel bad!

  15. 12th November 2018 / 9:33 pm

    Great post, Ruth. I’m sorry to hear of your struggles but I’m immensely impressed with your ability to break that particular habit. That takes a great deal of strength. As for Westlife, I’m thrilled to hear they bring you so much joy and I hope their reunion is everything you want it to be and more. Absolutely right – screw what anyone else thinks!

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      13th November 2018 / 5:47 am

      Thank you so much, Lindsay! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *