Once you are at one with yourself, everything else falls into place: Darren shares some life lessons on accepting yourself
As part of the #BeYourself campaign we have reached out to various members of the LGBT+ community to share words of encouragement to be yourself and embrace you are and believe in yourself. Darren offers a window into his life below and offers some wisdom on how to be yourself and live your own life.
Be yourself" it's something that is thrown around out there. "Never change for anyone" "Always be true to you". You hear these sayings quite a lot around the place but does anyone sit back actually think, how can one be themselves when they live in fear of judgement and prejudice?
I'm lucky I have always been allowed to be myself even when I thought it could be wrong and that's why I wasn't myself. My family are amazing and have always been there for me but outside the four walls of my home, things weren't so easy.
I'm from a little village where the population is very small and to be gay back in the 90's was a scary thing. I knew I was different. I wasn't into football or soccer and that was seen as a disadvantage. There was something wrong with me. And I tried to get involved but I couldn't keep up. Secondary School was a nightmare. The fear, the dread, the "What insult will I get today?" and at this stage I still knew I was different but I didn't know how I was different. Throwing myself into different groups, different hobbies, hoping and praying that I would find what it was that made me different.
Then I fell in love with a guy and then I felt normal. I felt like all these years I had been standing outside a nightclub and the bouncer was refusing to let me in and enjoy what was happening inside. But once I realised I was a Man in love with another Man. Those nightclub doors opened and I realised I was the bouncer refusing to let me be me.
Since that day I have never been anyone but myself. I put myself out there and I have the motto "if you don't like what you see, it's not going to affect me". Looking back, I wish I knew earlier what made me, me. Then I could have been myself a lot sooner.
At the ripe age of 32, I have never been more comfortable in my own skin. Yes, I have my hang ups like everyone else. But my sexuality isn't one of them. Now I will be honest. I don't show off my sexual orientation, I feels it's a part of my life, but it's not my entire life. That's maybe why I find it harder than some to find love, but I will never ever change who I am.
Being yourself is the scariest thing you could possibly do, yet it's the most liberating. You feel free. You are not carrying around some armour, some defence, you are open and you are free. And once you are at one with yourself, then everything else falls into place. The sun begins to shine, you feel the sun on your skin even on the coldest darkest day in December.
There have been times lately when, after a relationship ends, I say to my friends "I'm never going to let my guard down" and they say "Darren that's not you, you wear your heart on your sleeve never ever not be you. BE YOURSELF".
It's ok to change your body shape but only if it's for you. It's ok to get plastic surgery but only if it's for you. It's ok to wear what you want to wear if it makes you who you are.
There are obstacles in all our lives, but I think the biggest one is pretending to be something or someone you are not. Never change for someone else, no matter how much you love them. Never ever pretend to be someone else. Just be you and the world will be a better place.
The world has been around for billions of years and will probably continue for billions of years to come. Don't let your time be consumed on being someone else. Wouldn't you rather see the world and sense it's wonder through your own eyes. Not someone else's.
Living here in Cork City I can't imagine my life any other way now. I have bad days but not because I'm hiding. Not because of that fear I had growing up. But I have the usual problems like what will I wear on a Saturday night out. Why am I working on a weekend. Why didn't I get tickets to Ed Sheeran. See these problems are nothing, and the reason they are nothing is because I'm living my life as me.
A way I live my life is through Social Media. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat. I'm on them all and if you looked through my profiles you will see I hide nothing. And when I'm 90 I will look back and say "Darren no matter this world threw at you, you were always yourself."
"Dance like there's no tomorrow,
Sing like no one's listening,
And live each day like it's your last"
And if you want to follow me a little more just add me on instagram: instagram.com/darrensjbetts
For more on Darren, Check out his website fattie2fittie.weebly.com, where he tracks his progress as he improves his mental and physical health. Check out the different pages, which include recipes, workouts and motivational inputs, and join him on his journey as he moves away from the couch and back into the Gym.