July 22 – U

363/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Wow, only 3 more gratitude posts left including this one!!  When I started this journey a year ago, I was a little nervous as to if I would have 365 people to thank.  I didn’t want it to come down to posts such as thanking my mailman for the flyers he delivers in that they were the ones that led me on to some awesome deal!! ; )  Early on in these posts, I started hearing from friends that so and so had made “the list”.  I didn’t understand what that was until I was told that it was my “gratitude list”.  That put some pressure on me to say the least as there was now a “list”.  I didn’t want it to be a list and I didn’t want it to be some type of contest.  Then I heard that some people mentioned they were in the 80s and others were in the 200s!  I do have to make it clear that I haven’t had an order as to who I thank and thus whatever number gratitude post it was has no relation to ranking.  Most posts are the night before or a couple of days before.  Yes, I saved my dad for his birthday as I did with my children for theirs, my mom was first because well she is my mom but save for them and the final two gratitude posts, no one had a day or a number.  The list by the end of Sunday is far from complete.  I could thank another 365 people who got me to where I am today and this is what today’s gratitude post is about – to all of the people I didn’t name and there are hundreds of you that have impacted me!  So many former students, co-workers past and present, family members, inlaws, bosses, professors, fellow students, random strangers, neighbours past and present, friends, backhanded gratitudees (bullies and the like), service providers, celebrities etc, etc – just so many people who have made me who I am and to all of you un-named in this past year, you are part of this gratitude journey just because you were not personally mentioned here doesn’t mean you weren’t recognized by me.  To all the new people that will come in to my life, thanking you in advance as some of you will change and influence me in new ways.  Thank you to all of you who came along with me on this 365 day journey as well.  Your encouragement and support has gotten me to this end point.

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January 5 – the Bootlegger boyz

165/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ve never been a guy’s guy. And I’m 50 so that’s definitely not gonna change. I basically shied away from hanging with the guys when I was younger given that I was bullied by guys physically so it was just easier on me to not have any contact with the same gender lest I be fooled into trusting and then being made fun/beaten up. I’ve spoken in these posts about how I gained confidence towards the tail end of grade 12 and the first years of university. This was a very strange time for me. I was shedding the fat that haunted me during my childhood and teen years and I was coming into my looks and started getting positive attention from people in the newer situations I was in (university, part-time jobs etc). I was very wary of this attention as I did then (as I still do now) think of myself as that fat kid inviting negative attention to himself. I mean, being put down for so long, I didn’t even know it when someone was making a genuine attempt at befriending me as I always assumed there was an ulterior motive. This was the case when I was working at Bootlegger. There were about a handful of young men my age who were also employed there. Guys who – in my estimation – had it all: girls fawning over them, looks, style, charisma and charm. I was secretly in awe. Then I got asked to hang with a bunch of them one night after work. I didn’t take it as a compliment or an opportunity to have a good time – the skeptic in me thought this was some type of trick and was trying to figure out their ulterior motives. I don’t know what it was in me that gave me the courage to go but it turned out to be a great evening. Yes, it took me a while to get over my hesitation but after realizing that they were genuinely interested in my company and not use me as something to entertain themselves by, I let myself slowly open up and trust. I never became lasting friends with any of them but during my time at Bootlegger, we were friends and that was the start of gaining my confidence with males that I never had. Thanks to those Bootlegger boys, I was able to start working on my social awkwardness and gain a greater degree of confidence in who I was as a person that has directly affected who I am today – no problems hangin’ with the boys now! Cheers to you Bootlegger boys wherever you may be as you made me!

December 11 – i got the look

140/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. People look at me today and think I just ooze confidence and have always been like this. If you’ve read a few of my blog posts, you no doubt realize that the “me” you see has traveled a hard road to get to where he is today but done it with a smile and never the “woe is me” attitude. At times I feel that I overcompensate with my outgoing personality and attention to detail in regards to my appearance as I feel that geeky, overweight, awkward, teenager will make some sort of spontaneous appearance and unravel all that I have worked hard for – I mean, I see him every so often in the mirror still lurking after so many years. Maybe he’s there to serve as a reminder – and that’s actually a good thing. In my teen years as I was starting to physically shed him, I also started to gain confidence and was able to secure part-time student jobs based on my personality but the first job based more on my looks and how I presented myself was at Bootlegger, the jeans store, in Richmond Centre. I have no idea what gave me the courage to apply for that job but I did and that manager at the store was wonderful. She talked with me and asked me questions about who I am and why I wanted to work in the clothing industry as my only job experience up until then was at McDonald’s. I was honest with her about my pre-teen/teenage years and perhaps feeling sorry for me, she offered me the job. I was ecstatic – this was the ego-boost that this guy needed until I realized who I was working with and the intimidation factor set in: the best looking crop of teenage/young adults preceding A&F by about two decades. I really had to quickly fake the confidence. I was in awe of the people I worked with and just to be basking in their aura – yes, that was how great a deal it was for me. And then, the manager decides to cast me in Bootlegger’s Christmas fashion shows to be held at a few malls in the Vancouver area. There is only so much a person can fake and I really didn’t know what was happening as I was way out of my element. Always the risk-taker, I did it – I got advice, I got taught how to walk, how to dress and undress in seconds, how to turn, all of it and I loved it. I loved the attention I got (which I honestly longed for growing up) all due to this manager at Bootlegger who just gave me a chance and had no clue what she did for my ego. Yes, I may currently put an overemphasis on my appearance – I am the king of selfies and change my look more than some change their underwear 😉 – but it’s because that shy, overweight, unconfident boy is in the shadows always reminding me of who I could still be and this may be my way of keeping him at bay. You might me thinking that this blog post must be the most shallow gratitude post and I can agree with you but allow me this one so you can understand who I am today and what brought me to this point. Thank you Bootlegger manager for making me feel validated based on my looks. I needed that then. It allowed the rest of my confidence to flourish. This selfie is in honour of you!