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Oct14

Knowing the value of self worth, part two: putting aside the fear

Friday, 14 October 2016 Written by // Patrick Italo Ettenes Categories // Social Media, African, Caribbean and Black, Gay Men, Mental Health, International , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Patrick Italo Ettenes

"I smile with pride for any other person I can see who looks happy and content to be braving the world as a single person," says Patrick Ettenes

Knowing the value of self worth, part two: putting aside the fear

We don't all appreciate our own unique qualities and I believe that a lot of us don't know our own self worth. That is one thing that was stripped from me over the last few years. I was reminded by my dear mummy of who I was and where I came from and the dignity that was bred into us and suddenly the "self worth" light flipped on. I shouldn't have allowed it to go out in the first place.

Do you know why you cause a smile on that someone's face when you pass? Do you know why your best mate calls you his or her best friend? Do you believe in yourself?

You should, because it has to come from you! You should know your own self worth. If you do, you'll find the strength, sometimes, to step away from a past you hate and from those around you who only bring you down. You'll find that the universe will give you what you thought you didn't have, if you believe in yourself.

In abundance it will come, but you need to step away from the self-harm and from those who bring you down. And you need to know your self worth because fear prevents us from doing so many things in our lives.

***

People who are single are ridiculed for it in some places.

It used to be that I wouldn't normally go out for dinner unless I was with someone or on a date. Fear of being judged always prevented me, but a couple of months ago I made myself go out for dinner alone. It was the hardest thing to do, but I sat down for three courses at what is now my favorite Thai restaurant and I made myself relax and enjoy each bite. Why?

'"I wouldn't be sitting here alone if it wasn't for being positive," I would tell myself. But the truth is, I was sitting there alone for another reason entirely."

Because of the fears that creep into our head sometimes when we're living with HIV and when our being single is blamed on our HIV.

"I wouldn't be sitting here alone if it wasn't for being positive," I would tell myself. But the truth is, I was sitting there alone for another reason entirely. As single people we face a lot of pressure for being out in public alone and that strikes fear into us.

Here in the U. K., if you book a holiday solo, you pay more than you would if you were with someone. When you go to the movies by yourself you're looked at, or when seated at a dinner table with an empty place across from you. And if you go for a drink, you'll be stared at like a sad case if you sit there drinking alone.

So we have all this fear rolling around us, and pressure reminding us of why we are the way we are.

"And that has to stop" I told myself one day. "Fuck it! The reason I'm single is that I don't want to sit at a table with someone I can't stand or who bores me to death. And fuck the lot of you for looking at me like a sad case because I'm at the movies alone or at dinner by myself. To hell with the judgmental lot of you!"

One shouldn't have to wait to experience these things, especially the comfort and joys of dining alone. And I smile with pride for any other person I can see who looks happy and content to be braving the world as a single person, unashamed to be out and enjoying their own company.

That meal wasn't my last at the Thai restaurant. I'm one of their best customers now and I've brought all my friends there as well. These days I always get a table where I want and the staff are a great addition to the growing network of people who make me smile. When I'm around my friends and family I know that they are the company I want to be with.

So what is this article about? I guess it's a mixture of emotions from someone who still finds living with HIV hard, but is finding himself... each day as it comes.

And if I could give any little bit of advice? Don't give up. Don't allow the pain inside you to be the only thing. Allow someone in who really wants to be there for you. You deserve that. And stop living in fear because no joy comes from fear.

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