One of the biggest influences on my life was my grandma. Being the first boy born after two generations of just girls, I was always going to be special to her, and she spoiled me rotten.
However, whilst she spoiled me, she always insisted that I remain myself, she didn’t want me to get big headed, think of myself as someone special, or act in different ways depending on who I was with.
She always said ‘be true to yourself and be yourself at all times, and people will respect you much more for it’.
She always used to tell us this story to remind us of that.
Her and my grandfather were invited, along with 60 or so other people from the Factory where she worked, to be guests at dinner with the Lord Mayor of Leeds.
This was a big posh event, my grandparents were both working class, so this was very special to them.
When they were seated for the dinner the waiter came round offering everyone wine, asking whether they wanted red or white.
As he approached my grandma, who was sat quite close to the Mayor, they asked her which would she prefer, red or white, and she looked at the waiter and said, ‘I don’t like wine, would it be possible to have a bottle of beer’.
My grandfather was mortified, he couldn’t believe that my grandma had asked for something like that, especially at a dinner with the Mayor.
After what seemed like an eternity to my grandfather, the Mayor said ‘you can have whatever you like, I am sure we have beer as well‘.
As the waiter went back to bring the beer for my grandma, several of the other people said that they too would prefer a bottle of beer rather than the wine that they had accepted.
My Grandma always said she could have accepted the wine, but then she would have been pretending to be someone or something that she wasn’t.
When we want to be authentic and seen as authentic, then we need to be true to ourselves at all times.
If we try to pretend to be something or someone we are not, we will get found out, and then our authenticity is gone.
Also, as my Grandma used to say, ‘it’s always easier to be yourself as you don’t have to try and remember who you are today, you can just be’.