The awards season seems to have quietened down and the acceptance speeches have been applauded or chastised. The good speeches are put down to genuine shock at being awarded something spectacular, or is it just good acting? Terrible speeches are put down to arrogance or pre-prepared expectation. In reality those short-listed will find it very hard to win over the audience whichever way their speech goes, so I think you just need to speak from the heart and off the cuff to put across your message and this got me thinking about what I would say if I ever had to make a speech of my own.
So here goes, my acceptance speech:
I probably fall up the stairs to the podium, expose a breast and face plant into the presenters groin area. Then I reach the podium looking dishevelled with one of my fake lashes precariously only holding on by a corner. I giggle, then giggle some more with an uncontrolled and slightly demonic looking big goofy smile before realising that now is the time that I have to say something ……..
“Hi, wow, thanks, this is incredible (just because people always start with something like this and knowing me this is what mine would be). I can’t say this was totally unexpected seeing as I was named in the shortlist! But what has been unexpected is the list of people and experiences in my life that have gotten me to this point. No one becomes the person they are on their own. Everyone you meet in life leaves a lasting piece of something and all those somethings join up to become you.
Obviously this starts with parents, good or bad they are the first people to start building you. I am lucky, mine are the good sort; in fact mine are the great sort. From my parents I have always received love, understanding, discipline, anger and guilt but all in a positive way. Love is love, warm, fuzzy, safe. Understanding allowed me to become me and not a version of them. Discipline is essential, boundaries make you grow. Anger is necessary, how can you learn right from wrong; safety from danger or what to fear if no one gets angry at you and guilt, the hardest lesson of all but the most important. I don’t like feeling guilty, guilt eats you up, guilt destroys you and your relationships, knowing what guilt is and how to steer clear of it is a life lesson all of its own.
Even bad parents can offer invaluable lessons, harder lessons that leave scars on your soul but scars are tough, scars remind you of a place you don’t want to be, scars remind you to steer clear and not to go to that place again.
After meeting your parents you meet friends, the most important influences on your life. My friends have taught me strength through adversity, compassion, selflessness, companionship, loyalty, how to argue, how to re-connect, happiness, sadness, fun, sharing, caring, in fact there really isn’t an emotion that friendship doesn’t teach you.
People talk about true friends; to me all my friends are true friends. I don’t have a habit of making false friends, I might make acquaintances that are pleasant to talk to in passing or great to catch up with from time to time, but my friends are my friends full stop and whether they are currently in my life or not they are still my friends. So for those friends in my past, thank you and to those friends in my present, thank you and for those friends from my past who are still in my present and who will also be in my future (because we are too far down the line for you not to be) thank you. You may never know how you made me who I am but I do. I could sit down with each one of you and explain, in detail, what you have taught me about life and the universe and if you want to know, ask me, I would be proud to let you know. I might cry and blub while doing it but then as my friends, you would already know that and be expecting it.
Then from friends to partners. One permanent ‘soul mate’ or a whole host of partners, I don’t judge, it’s too time consuming and more than a little pointless because people are who they are, what you think of them has absolutely no relevance. As one of my besties recently said about not ‘liking’ someone, ‘they just ain’t for you so don’t go worrying about them’ now there is a statement with A LOT of truth! But partners, one or many, teach you tolerance, partnership, diplomacy, teamwork, understanding, patience, compromise, selflessness and above all unity. Mine has taught me all these things and for that I thank you.
And to all the ‘others’. These are all those others that you meet in life; teachers, dinner ladies, colleagues, bosses, doctors, lawyers, customer service peeps, bank clerks, call centre workers (you might only hear their voice but they are still people), call-out engineers, cab drivers, big issue sellers, the women who walks her dog every Thursday at the same time as you, the elderly man next door who has lived through war, peace and gangster London. In fact this group holds anyone, anyone you have ever met, even only once or for a fleeting moment; the couple on the train home from London who struck up a conversation. All these people show you something. Whether they made you smile, made you sad, made you think, made you angry, they made you something, they made and continue to make you, you.
But last and most importantly, I want to thank, what modern day terminology refers to as ‘the haters’. Those people who have pointed out my flaws, who have thrown my friendship back in my face, who have berated me for how I do things or made me feel in any way negative about myself. To you I offer the biggest thanks of this speech. Hurt and betrayal are super emotions that teach you everything you need to know about yourself. They teach you how to bounce back, they teach you how to toughen up, how to be strong, resolute and astute. They make you aware of your faults and your weaknesses and they show you the parts of you that need to change. You will never learn more about yourself than at a time when negativity surrounds you because this is when you dig in, stay true to who you are and without realising it you come out a better person with slightly more ammunition in your arsenal and more fight in your blood.
So to anyone and everyone I thank you. I am me because of you and seeing as I like me you have all done a great job.”