"Yes, 2020 has been shit for everybody, but that’s no reason for us to put our personal development on hold"

Well hello there! It’s nice to see you again. I must start this column with an apology. I’ve been in a bit of a strange rut over the last few weeks and I’ve not really wanted to write as much as I have been doing over the last few months. I guess I’ve had a bit of writer’s block. I’ve had ideas of what I want to write, but every time I’ve sat down to do it, I’ve come to a bit of standstill. I must do better – urgh, that sounds like a school report from when I was younger; “Al is well-liked and a big personality in the classroom, but when it comes to academics – he must do better”, and you know what, they were right. I must do better. I’ve always got some cock and bull scheme on the back burner or in the back of mind, and I always say I’m going to do something, and it never happens. It’s become a bit of a running joke with me. I need to do something to hold myself accountable for my actions and what I say.

I had big dreams for 2020. Like many others, I had some many plans for this year and like most, they’re not turning out the way I planned. Admittedly, there have been some outside influences that have caused this. I had plans to move to Manchester in May 2020, and well, Miss Rona had other plans. But as we see light at the end of the tunnel, I guess its now time to start re-evaluating what I want from life and whether it still is what I want from my life. It is. I spent a few days over there in September and had the best time catching up with old friends, making new friends and discovering just how much of an incredible city it is.

“Why Manchester?”; you may ask – why not? There is something really special about it for me. It reminds me a lot of London. A multi-cultural, inclusive and accepting hub of excitement. There is always something going on and always something new to explore. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Leeds is great, but after a while of living life there, it became monotonous. It’s the same bars, with the same people in the same order as last Saturday night. It’s predictable. We know that we’re going to start in Queens Court, and we all know that we’re going up doing slut-drops in the Viaduct Showbar. It’s not just about the drinking and the scene for me; I just think I’ve got a better chance of reinventing myself over there. I don’t have the emotional baggage that I do in somewhere like Leeds or London.

Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of the Real Housewives of Cheshire whilst being in lockdown? OK. I just want to be best friends with Dawn Ward and Seema Malhotra. A gay can dream, right? I may joke about it, but actually; some of these Reality TV Stars can be great role models, because they prove that if you work hard, then you can have it all. You can achieve your goals. Having it all doesn’t mean having to sacrifice something else to get it. I don’t necessarily want to be a Housewife of Cheshire, although I would make a great one. I want to have an identity and a legacy.

I want to go back to accountability. How do we keep ourselves accountable? Everyone is accountable in our jobs. I’m accountable for the words that I write, and the opinions that I voice in these columns. Ultimately, I think accountability is much more than just admitting to ourselves when we’ve made a mistake. That’s quite a narrow-minded perception of it, I think. True accountability is owning everything that happens in your life. it means that you are responsible for your attitude, actions, relationships and communications. It also means that you inevitably hold other people to account for their actions. 

This doesn’t always work in your favour, as I’ve come to realise. You can’t hold other people accountable for their actions if they don’t want to. Sometimes, it’s not always a two-way street, and I’m now at the age where I want to be more selective who I want to associate with. If you can’t hold yourself accountable for your actions, then I’m not going to waste myself holding you to account.

If you don’t understand what true accountability is, then we risk missing the point altogether and shaming each other for our actions. Whether that’s a choice of who we date, sleep with or choose to associate with. How we look? How we present ourselves to the outside world. As a community, we are far too quick to pass judgement on other people. When we think we are holding other people to account, what we are sometimes doing is shaming them. If we’re holding ourselves to account, then we shouldn’t have time to try and do that to other people. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

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Take five minutes of your day today to think about what you want to achieve, how you are going to achieve it and how are we going to measure that success

We can’t change the world on our own, and quite simply, some people don’t want to be helped. So – let’s just take a step back and focus on ourselves. Take five minutes of your day today to think about what you want to achieve, how you are going to achieve it and how are we going to measure that success.

I’ve three things that I want to do in the next few months. I want to lose some more weight, I’ve lost 5 stone since Christmas already, but I want to lose a little bit more. I know I’m never going to have the perfect body or a six-pack, but I want to feel more confident in my own body. I want to flirt with a handsome guy in a bar, and him not to take pity on me for being a bigger size and flirt back. I need to give up the cigarettes. It’s the one thing I’ve been saying I want to do for years, but I’ve been very successful with it. I know that If I do then it’s going to help with the weight loss, and the third objective – the big move to Manchester. If I don’t escape Leeds then I think I might go insane. I yearn for independence again and being in charge of my own life.

These things are what I’m using to hold myself accountable because these are three of the main things that only I can do. I can’t make someone else quit smoking for me, although that would be pretty nice actually! I’ve started posting more pictures of my Instagram account to show my journey. It reminds me then how much I’ve changed the way I look over the last twelve months. I won’t be postings thirst traps anytime soon though boys. I mean, yes, 2020 has been shit for everybody, but that’s no reason for us to put our personal development on hold. We’ve all got to develop and grow, so let’s do it more positively.

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Having it all isn’t easy, but anything is possible if you are prepared to work for it.

Now; where did I put those emergency cigs?

About the author: Al Jennings
Somewhere north of the Watford Gap, Al was born and raised in a conservative East Yorkshire town. Having escaped to London aged 18, and overseas into the world of Holiday Tourism, Al can now be found propping up the bars of Leeds, searching for that elusive Mr. Right.

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