It’s a beautiful day – one of those crisp autumn mornings that promise a gloriously sunny afternoon. Vivid colours from graffitied fences flash through the train window as it speeds along the track, creating a psychedelic effect. The overhead announcement reminds me that the next station is my stop, so I move towards the door in preparation. While I wait, a young woman about my age sitting nearby catches my eye. She is wearing the most exquisitely vibrant outfit and emanates natural beauty. I take a step towards her and notice that her arms flinch, clutching her ballet bag tighter to her chest. “I just thought I would say that I think you are stunning and I hope you have a brilliant day” I say, before turning and exiting the train.
I’m still in a state of shock from this morning. Nobody has ever called me “stunning” before. In fact, nobody has ever said anything about my appearance that didn’t involve the words ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’. Sitting on the train this morning, I had made up my mind that I’d had enough. No amount of dedication and love for dancing would make me fit in, nor would it stop the bullying. So I was going to quit, because I knew that if I did dance in the concert tonight, all eyes would be on me, Bridget ‘Hippo’ Gerrot. But that comment, that one comment, changed my mind. It made me more determined than ever to do what I love no matter what, and I say a silent thank you to that stranger before taking the stage.
I can’t believe I just did that! I have always been impossibly shy, and when I was asked to present my lecture on ‘self-worth’ at such short notice I almost had a panic attack. One thing made me move my quivering legs up to the lectern and deliver my talk, and that was a conversation I had with a young dancer at my niece’s dancing recital the night before. I complimented her breathtaking performance after the show and she told me that she originally wasn’t going to dance for fear of judgement but was inspired to take a risk in the hopes that it would encourage others to do the same.
I turn on the television and the news reporter introduces the next item: an interview with women who have escaped abusive relationships. I am amazed at the bravery these women have shown. The final question, directed at Cathy, regards the moment that finally made her leave the relationship. She explains that she went to a presentation on ‘self-love’ and the presenter stated, “You deserve to be happy and you are worthy of happiness.” “I have been told that so many times, but it was only at that moment that I actually understood and believed it.” said Cathy simply. I turn off the program, wondering how that presenter must feel, knowing that she was the reason Cathy’s life changed forever.


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