Stephen, London

Stephen is a communicator, poet, and athlete.

What makes you happy?

As I’m getting older I’m understanding that lots of the time what makes me happy isn’t something with a monetary value. The sea makes me overwhelmingly happy as does being somewhere quiet with great company and being allowed to just be myself. I think I take for granted what it means to be free and to show who you are but being comfortable in my own skin is something that makes me happy.

Is there something that you spent a long time believing you couldn’t do…. only to try it and realise that you can actually could do it? What made you try it?

This is a funny one because I think I can do most things but often assume something will go wrong if I try. I’ve come to realise that just putting yourself out there and giving it a go is far better than protecting yourself from potential failure.

At one time or another I’ve told myself I couldn’t date, find that perfect job, make a trip or take on an event and eventually I’ve had a word with myself and got on with it. Sometimes I’ve fallen but each time I’ve dusted myself down and come back stronger.

I’m currently in a place where I feel extraordinarily blessed to be in a happy relationship, have a good job and travelled the world. None of this I take for granted.

If you were taking yourself on a date, what would you arrange for yourself?

Well I’d be early for starters. It would include an activity of some sort, a chance to talk, some good food and somewhere slightly off the beaten track. It’s probably too much to ask to watch Blackburn Rovers win at Wembley in the FA Cup final. So I’ll go with an exhibition, some food and a walk along the Southbank.

What’s one thing you do regularly in order to look after yourself?

Aside from watching what I eat, going to the gym and trying to destress I’ve started to meditate and practice mindfulness. I’ve found finding time to give the brain a break I’d incredibly cathartic and peaceful and allows me to be a little bit better at the things I do.

Share one thing that used to make you really anxious, that you no longer worry about.

I used to have to have a plan for everything or know how I was going to spend every second. A recent illness meant I had a bit if time off work and I didn’t do anything.  It helped me to realise that not wishing every second away is actually a good thing and sometimes not having a plan or doing the same thing isn’t actually boring.

Time is precious. What do you dedicate yours to? 

Living in London you are surrounded by distraction, noise, pressure and people all the time and so I try and find time to dedicate to being quiet and myself. One if my biggest loves is the cinema and it’s because more often than not you can be quiet, switch off the brain, tuck into the popcorn and ignore the phone. Bliss.

Give your 18 year old self one piece of advice. 

Crack on and don’t panic. Everything will work out ok. Life currently feels scary but you are going to win at some things, fail at others, have experienced real and heartbreaking sadness and total euphoria but you’ll have lived and you’ll be ok with great stories to tell. Oh and you won’t mind getting grey hair.

How will you grow old? Gracefully or disgracefully?

I’ll take growing old first and I want to get there with a glint in my eye and a mischievous grin.

What do you hope people say about you when you eventually leave this mortal coil?

He brought a calmness and sense of fun to life and I’m going to toast his life with a soya hot chocolate and a gluten free brownie.

How did answering these questions make you feel?

I hadn’t realised that taking the time to sit and think about these things would be so cathartic. Stopping, putting a pause on the daily grind and thinking about happiness is a wonderful thing and it made me smile a big toothy smile.

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