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The ugly truth: a day of speaking my true mind

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

I’ve always admired those people who say exactly what they think. It’s a risky strategy, as those who speak their true minds do tend to divide opinion (and have a fair few enemies) but is it really necessary to want everyone to like you?

How refreshing, I thought, to not have to self-edit and to just say exactly what’s on your mind. So I tried it one day. Here’s what happened.

The day began quite well. My husband and I tend to be quite frank with one another, ditto my toddler, so by 7am so far so normal.

Upon arrival at work I met a colleague at the entrance. We walked in together and he asked me how I was. Instead of usual “fine thanks!” I said “a bit achy really. Plus I’m fairly worried my breath smells like a used nappy.” The look on his face was priceless. He was still staring at me with that pitying half frown (usually reserved for one-legged-pigeons, or animals inappropriately humping in public) when I skipped on past him to retrieve a mint from my desk draw.

Apart from a few fraught phone calls (it turns out Finance don’t like it when you tell them the truth: that you haven’t called them back because it “really wasn’t a priority”) the morning passed without too much drama.

The next sticky situation came when I was tasked with showing someone around the building. They must have thought me quite mad, and rather cynical (the latter of which I am usually not). In response to their questions I advised them to consider bringing in their own loo roll, as well as revealing the truth about the meat in the canteen and finally that I had to cut the tour short because I had more important things to do. I felt a bit mean really but it was the cold hard truth.

Later on a friend sent me a message to ask what I thought about a certain man. I think she was hoping I’d compliment his nice personality, but instead I was forced to point out his rather prominent nose hair.

Things started to go downhill when a colleague kindly offered me some home baking in the afternoon and I declined – explaining that their biscuits simply “weren’t worth the calories” -and when I went to a meeting I told someone else that their jumper really wasn’t very flattering. I also complained to the cafe that their cups were a bit grubby, and I found myself ranting in an open-plan office about how pointless I think Ellie Goulding is.

My final moment of speaking my mind came when I was chatting on the phone to my best friend in the evening. Instead of casually closing the conversation, I told her the ugly truth: “Sorry, I’d better go now as I really need a poo.” Her stunned silence and uneasy laugh told me that it was time to stop, and start self-censoring again for the sake of everyone around me.

I have to admit, it was quite a cathartic exercise. I have never over-shared that much, and I have never disclosed so much about my personal life and habits to colleagues and near strangers. It actually felt fairly self indulgent and quite lonely, and I’m still un-doing some of the truths dished out that day. So, although it was easier to say exactly what I thought -the fallout was more hard work than it was worth. I was also aware that people were discussing my don’t-care attitude, and whether it was my ‘time of the month’, which was uncomfortable to say the least.

I still admire those who speak their mind. It takes a thick skin, a cut-throat standpoint and real confidence in your own views (not to mention a willingness to share EVERYTHING). So, for now, I’m quite comfortable with keeping some stuff to myself.

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A letter to my 16-year-old self

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

Dear young, naive and slightly ridiculous me. You are only 16, so I will forgive you for not knowing much yet, but I thought I’d impart some wisdom that you will need to learn over the next few years.

You’re now 31; you have learned a bit more about some stuff, and I’m sorry to say you’re still slightly ridiculous. Here’s some information which will save you a whole lot of time and hassle over the coming 15 years…

 

  • The sum of a person’s character = their good side minus their bad side. Even if they are very nice one minute, but can be a real evil little turd the next, walk away. Remember the overall balance: I’m sure even Jack the Ripper was a right hoot at a dinner party.

 

  • There are two types of people who will profoundly affect you: Diamonds and Dementors. Diamonds are the lovely ones: they are rare and they truly care. You’ll leave their company feeling happier, and they’ll always want the best for you. Dementors are the cold, selfish ones who can suck the life and soul out of a person. They bring you down, care only about themselves and will leave you feeling empty inside. Beware that Dementors can sometimes masquerade as Diamonds, so be sure to avoid them to leave your soul intact.

    “Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself… soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”

    – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

 

  • If you do something for someone else, always do it with good grace. The only thing worse than a moaner is a self-proclaimed martyr.

 

  • Don’t worry too much about your appearance. You will change – physically of course – but more importantly you will change mentally. What matters to you one year will be trumped by something else the next. You can always dye your hair if you go grey, or lose weight if you like, but the time you waste putting your life on hold can never be brought back.

 

  • Just because a food/product is described as ‘natural’ does not make it healthy. Fancy a side of natural arsenic, lead or radiation with that ridiculously expensive organic yoghurt? Thought not.

 

  • Prioritise family and close friends. You’ll have limited time to spend with people in later life, so make the most of it now and don’t spread yourself too thinly by trying to be too many things to too many people. Life moves on and people change, so invest in the relationships that are worth it.

 

  • Always take a plastic bag with you wherever you go. If someone needs to vom, something poos, or there is some sort of liquid explosion it will come in handy. Plus, they are worth five whole pence in the future, so stock up now! (N.B. invest in Bag 4 Life bag shares whilst you’re at it, and something called Facebook.)

 

  • Don’t bother with expensive skincare. You’ll fork out a small fortune and still develop a monobrow-style frown line whilst still in your mid 20s. Consider it an imperfection where all your powers of assertiveness are stored – and stick to cheap, good old fashioned Simple.

 

  • Oh and stop freaking out about your spots. You’ll still get them when you’re 30. Get over it. Nobody cares about all that stuff except you.

 

Lots of love, and I’ll write again when we hit 50,

Early 30s Anna

x

 

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Push Partners: what not to do in the delivery room

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

Being in labour is tough. VERY tough. I fully understand that it’s hard for the husband/wife/partner/best friend/family member to watch their beloved go through a painful and difficult few hours/days. But your job is to do what she says AT ALL TIMES. It’s a stressful situation that can be fraught with faux pars from the person who is trying to help, so here’s a handy guide on how to get through it with the minimum of shouting – and with all limbs intact.

 

Don’t…

Complain. If you’ve got a bad leg, sore throat or feel a bit tired now is NOT the time to share. She will be feeling all this times about a million. Sorry, but unless you’re the one pushing a small human out of your nether regions nobody currently cares.

Get dramatic. Even when that baby is crowning, now is not the moment to gasp/panic/start flapping. It may be a fairly unnerving sight but if you are a bit wimpy with the sight of blood then for heaven’s sake stay up the head end and tell her everything is fine (even if it doesn’t look it).

Be a perv. I’ve heard horror stories from Midwife friends about dodgy dads checking out staff derrières when they bend over to write in the notes. If you want to stay on-side this is not the time for window shopping.

Get lost. For goodness sake learn the way to the hospital. When you’re AT the hospital don’t go wondering off aimlessly. It may be a long old business but make sure you remember (or photograph) the ward name/number. The last thing she wants when she is starting to push is an absent birthing partner who can’t find their way back from the café.

Faff. There is nothing worse than someone trying to parallel park whilst you’re in labour. Just get into that hospital and get help. The wrath of a parking attendant will be nothing compared to what you’ll experience if you have any unnecessary delays. (And, whilst we’re on the subject, for goodness sake don’t dare to complain about the parking charges. You may have to take out a second mortgage to afford those tariffs but that’s the last thing you need to be worrying about right now.)

Be a pain. She will have enough pain for now – don’t add to her woes. Loud eating, sniffing, farting, touching or inappropriate conversation will simply not be tolerated. When things really ramp up it’s best not to speak unless spoken to, and definitely don’t engage the midwife in conversations about her love life when things start getting interesting. Be like a helpful, silent worker ant and you can’t go wrong.

 

Do…

Bring stuff. Labour can be long and parts of it are dull (I wrote 3 freelance scripts, watched 2 films and had at least 1 takeaway – even after the contractions became pretty regular). Bring snacks, energy drinks, movies and magazines to pass the time. It might be the last time you get to watch a film for a while!

Swot up. Ignorance is not an excuse. Do some reading beforehand and learn what to expect. This prevents any melodramatic responses (see above), and it will help her to feel slightly better if it all goes wrong and you end up delivering the baby yourself on the bathroom floor. It happens!

Pick your moment. If you DO have to do something as annoying as go for a walk, have a wee or even a nap whilst it’s all kicking off then pick your moment to tell her. Just after a contraction but whilst she is still puffing on the gas & air is a good time – that stuff is so good that if someone had asked me to help hoover the hallway I’d have probably said yes.

Just say yes. If she wants jam on toast at 3am, an Easter egg in November or Taylor Swift on repeat then, for the love of Mike, give the girl what she wants. Agree to everything, tell her she’s amazing and let her do what she wants. If you are the baby’s father you, as the cause of this current predicament, may not be her favourite person right now – but agree to her every whim and she’ll soon forgive you.

 

You’ll soon know if you’ve over-stepped the mark as you’re likely to receive a barrage of abuse. A friend of mine even gave her partner a right royal rollicking for breathing too loudly. It’s hard to pitch it right but if you keep calm (but not too calm), be on-hand (but not too close) and offer helpful advice (when appropriate) you are sure to be a success. Just remember the four Ps: no panicking, no perving and no photos. And if she accidentally does a small poo (as many apparently do) – you’d be wise to not tell her about it – then you’ll definitely live long enough to meet the new little life being born. Good luck!

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