Being Ourselves for Children’s Mental Health Week

‘You’re too fat.’

‘You’re too skinny.’

‘Your hair hasn’t got enough Sun-in in.’

‘You haven’t got the right ra-ra skirt.’

‘We all look like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, but you….well, you just don’t.’

‘You’re just too different to be in our cool gang.’

We’ve all been there in our youth. God forbid if we were unique. Stood out from the crowd. Actually expressed ourselves in our own way.

These days, of course, in our more comfortable middle age, it’s easy to look back and wish we’d put two fingers up to those cloned Madonnas in their identical, lacy, fingerless gloves.

And just been ourselves.

Because being yourself is pretty damn awesome.

We know that now, but it’s hard, especially when you’re a child and afraid of standing out from the crowd.

And imagine if you’re a young person who thinks you’re the only one feeling the way you do.

Everyone else seems so happy. So sorted. The last thing you want is for anyone to realise that your head is full of anxiety, fear, stress, exhaustion, panic. Your thoughts are bleak. Nothing seems fun anymore. It’s a lonely place to be.

You’ll do anything to fit in because maybe then you’ll feel better.

But you won’t. You’ll only be pretending to be something that you’re not, which, as we all know, does nothing for anyone’s self esteem.

And 8-10 children who get one to one support from the school based charity Place2Be, are affected by low self esteem.

So for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week, Place2Be, are encouraging everyone – children, young people and adults –  to celebrate ‘Being Ourselves.’

We’ve all longed to be someone else. I’ve had a few girl crushes. First it was Demi Moore (the St Elmo’s Fire period – getting off with Rob Lowe may have had something to do with it, alongside her cool crimped hair).

Next it was Cindy Crawford.

Clearly this was stratospherically out of reach. No matter how many times I did her 1990’s workout ‘video’, I was never going to be this Amazonian goddess. No beauty spot, no long, thick, lustrous hair, no Richard Gere, and 4 inches too short.

But if I’d suddenly morphed into Cindy C overnight, would everything in my life have been better? No, of course not, because I wouldn’t be me.

Young people today are under even more pressure to be something they’re not, through social media. Airbrushed perfection on Instagram or Snapchat.

But we can help our kids realise that none of this matters, because they have their own special qualities. Being themselves is the best way to be.

It’s no easy gig, even as an adult. It takes skill and practise and as much as I’m much happier in my own skin now, there are still days when Cindy seems an attractive prospect. There are always bumps in the road.

All we can do is guide our children over those bumps and encourage them to be who they are. To embrace their individuality, as well as the individuality of those around them. If we can appreciate the different qualities in others, it helps us connect with them – all good for our mental health.

As Oscar Wilde said ‘Be yourself; everyone else is taken.’

And let’s face it, the world would be a pretty dull place if we were all the same.

It’s all about ‘Being Ourselves.’

To find out more about this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week and how you can get involved and support Place2Be, go to

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  1. Rachel
    February 7, 2018 / 5:44 pm

    Beautifully written. Punchy and on point. Love it x

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      February 8, 2018 / 9:32 pm

      Thanks Liz – I’m wondering as you right this, which part of the world you are in – I’ll pop over to your blog to find out! Hope it’s all going really well. Thanks for commenting lovely xx

  2. RaisieBay
    February 8, 2018 / 10:00 am

    Great post. I really feel for the kids these days, we had it bad enough in our day but now you have Social Media picking out your faults and short comings. Thankfully my 12 year old is most definitely happy in her own skin and has no desire to be any different, in fact sometimes I think she takes being different a little too far, back in my days she’s be the one with the purple streak in her hair, but that’s more normal nowadays. It’s good that schools are finally taking children’s mental health seriously though and that there are places like Place2Be.

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      February 8, 2018 / 9:32 pm

      Your 12 year old sounds wonderfully strong and happy being who she is – a great skill to have and I’m sure it will hold her in good stead in the future. I wish all children had the courage to be who they really want to be, but as you say, the power of social media makes it even harder than when we were at school, and it was hard enough then. Thankfully most schools seem to be getting on board with the pressure social media puts on the kids and the pressure it puts on their mental health but I just wish it was easier for children to be who they really want to be. Thanks for reading and commenting xx

  3. February 8, 2018 / 1:15 pm

    This is such an important issue. As adults we have the luxury of being able to distance ourselves from people who don’t get us or can’t accept the way we are. But when those people are your classmates and you have to see them every day, it’s not so easy.Schools definitely need to put more emphasis on the importance of children’s mental health.

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      February 8, 2018 / 9:29 pm

      You’re so right. One of the reasons it is much easier for us to do what we want and be how we want, is because we can escape the people who will judge us and ignore them, but when you’re stuck in a classroom with them day in and day out, it’s a very different story, and much much scarier to be who you really want to be. I think schools are getting much better at supporting children’s mental health with the help of charities such as Place2Be and hopefully pastoral care will just go from strength to strength. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Sarah Austin
    February 8, 2018 / 1:24 pm

    Remember that Friday in school where we determined we’d meet the next day ‘in town’ and we’d be wearing something ‘really dufferent’. As I read your post I realise it has taken decades for me to get kind of close realising I shall wear, do and be what the f@*k I choose. Love that my walking towards this point started, in part, beside you my friend. X

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      February 8, 2018 / 9:27 pm

      We never managed it did we? Think we both chickened out because back then it was so hard to think f*ck it, and not conform. But we could do it now, as you say my darling friend, we’ve walked that walk together and I’m so proud that we can do it now. Just kind of wish it was easier when we were growing up. Thanks for reading and your lovely comment. xxxx

  5. Lieve Geysen
    February 10, 2018 / 8:14 am

    Beautifully written! Being a mum of three (23, 21 and 17 years old already) and a teacher (16-18 years old pupils) I know how true and important your words are. Your children are very lucky to have a mum like you! ????

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      March 3, 2018 / 2:12 pm

      What a lovely comment Lieve, really thoughtful. You are obviously very experienced with teens and know exactly how much they need to know they great they are for just being themselves. I’ll be coming to you when I need teen advice! xxxxx

  6. February 10, 2018 / 5:08 pm

    It is wonderful that the mental health of our children is so at the forefront of everyone’s agenda nowadays. It is so easy for so much damage to be done to their confidence and self-esteem at an early age that our role as parents and that of their teachers is invaluable in ensuring they don’t get blown off course and can learn to celebrate their individuality and as you say those of others. Another great piece from you on this subject Susie. Clearly a subject close to your heart. X

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      March 3, 2018 / 2:10 pm

      Thanks for this lovely comment Jo. It is a subject close to my heart – I just pray that more and more children and teens feel they can talk about how they are feeling. xxx

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