Five Minutes On Being Too Much

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I don't know why, it's just one of those things that happens every now and then, but lying awake at 3am this morning I started thinking bad thoughts. You will know the ones, the ones where you remember every negative thing said to or about you from the age of two onwards... One thing each of these thoughts have in common for me is the word "Too"; You're too big, too lazy, too nice, too clever (The latter is less of an issue for me personally...). but it's incredible how putting this one word in front of another can turn it into an immediate negative. Try it: think of the adjective you'd most like to be described as and put the word "Too" in front of it - Weird isn't it? This word is used by other people to take away any control we have over ourselves and how we present to other people. GRIM. 
I quickly came to realise that I'm not alone in this, everyone has experienced the dreaded "Too", and in most cases it causes more self-loathing than anything else we store in our noggins - Possibly because we're brought up to believe that nothing is more important than pleasing the people around us...? I don't know. Which is why I put the call out to my fellow humans - I asked them what they've been told they're too much of, how this has impacted them and finally how they have combatted or managed these feelings. 
My friends, this is a long post - The longest post ever published on this blog, BUT: Every. Word. Means. Something. The people who have shared their thoughts here have actively tapped into those 3am horrors we all have and are willing to share them with you - Be this as a way of catharsis or be this a way of letting you know that you are not alone. So I ask that, if you are able, you please read what they're saying, think about what this may mean to you and maybe show them some love (Links are available through photos where available)

As one to always offer an opinion... I often feel, and have been told, I'm too upfront and honest. I'm an open book and am happy to share my sexual experiences, my mental health experiences and parenting experiences being just a few to mention. I'm often told I'm very honest, or make people gasp/laugh in embarrassment. I guess I don't mean to shock people, I just talk about real stuff that I don't think people should be embarrassed about, but apparently they are. 
I have bipolar disorder and anxiety so how I handle this would really depend what kind of day you catch me on. If I am feeling particularly vulnerable, I would and still do run over the details of the comment and situation . Wondering what I could have done different to prevent the situation arising. How I should have reigned it in, and that plays into my insecurities of not being good enough and a failure.  
If I'm having an 'up' day, I won't give a flying fig, in fact I'll find it amusing and enjoy the attention. It feels unnatural not to talk about the things that are so important to me.

I've been told by every boyfriend I've had that I'm too opinionated. It's stopped me in my tracks every time. My initial feelings have always been shame and regret, I want the people I care about to like me, and being told I'm 'too much' is as hurtful as 'not enough'. In negotiating our interactions with our lovers and significant others, we're inclined to keep to the middle of the road with regards to managing their feelings towards us, we don't want their affections to veer too far one way or the other. Being told I was too opinionated were the moments I ended up in the gutter. 
My secondary feelings are those of injustice. Being opinionated, especially too opinionated, isn't an expression we associate with men. Men get to be assertive and show leadership, I'm just angry and bossy. Intellectual provocation isn't allowed, just sexual, yeah? 
Hindsight, being the beautiful bastard it is, has taught me that these moments have said more about the people telling me I'm too opinionated than the expression itself. It exposes their insecurities, not mine. It shows where my power lies. Of course, how we deliver a message is just as important as the message itself, and perhaps I need to take more care in how I express my opinions regardless of who I'm talking to, boyfriend or otherwise. My opinions need to be expressed in a smarter way... and I AM smart (IMO).

I was recently chatting with friends in a bar about relationships; a mixed group and one of our male friends  mentioned that I was "too independent" and that that would put prospective men off. Apparently there's a certain level of neediness, which men find attractive and too much independence "shows that you don't need a man" and "can be intimidating". (A bit of background; about a year ago, I left a 10 year relationship, and I've spent the past year or so dating a little, but mostly getting back on my feet and finding out who I am and what I want, which sounds daft maybe.) 
It's hard to be too offended by being told that you're independent, as I see that as "having your shit together", but it's weird to think that you can be "too" anything in terms of your attributes. I felt a little sad that my friends were suggesting that independence would equal being unapproachable. 
It made me start to compare where I am in my life with other people, and left me feeling as though by my age I should have accomplished more or different things which seem to constitute life goals and social norms in today's society. (Marriage, children, etc).

I have a PhD and I am well known in my field of work. I am an expert, but I'm apparently too opinionated, too passionate (about my work), too assertive/aggressive, too "scary" (like WTF - I'm threatening to men?), too loud. It's almost always men who say this.  I have been laughed at or silenced in meetings for having strong opinions. 
I usually know more than most of the people who put me down, but because I'm small, fat and female, my knowledge doesn't count for anything. When I ask questions I often get eyerolls, like "oh no, not her asking questions *again*".  
I will not be silenced and I will have my voice heard because I know my stuff. I'm lucky that I was brought up by parents who encouraged me to speak out, but it's still hard even with my level of knowledge, experience in my field and expertise, I'm still belittled and they try to silence me. 

It always starts with "I've never met a girl like you before". This makes you feel special and exotic. Of course not, I'm SUPER. There's never a hard line, but more of a small drift into criticism that you don't notice at first.  "You're quite loud" because you laugh at your own jokes and don't speak in a coquettish whisper. "I love that you're interested in different things" becomes "but Eastenders is on, why would you want to watch a documentary on trains, you're really odd".  "It's great you love watching sport" becomes "You only do that to be 'different'". Like if you enjoy anything it has to be for an outside audience and not for your own pleasure.  "You've ALWAYS got an opinion haven't you". Yes. And it can change over time and sometimes it's not as informed as it could be but I do actually think things. 
Even on the occasions where these things are said with fondness, the meaning is clear. You should not have opinions.  
And you start to think maybe you SHOULD be more 'girlie'. Maybe don't talk so much. Maybe be gentler. 
And then you realise that you are fucking miserable because you're pretending the core of your person doesn't exist. Yes you can soften your edges if you realise sometimes you can be too sharp, but not to please someone else's version of you. 
And then you find more of your crew. Women who are brave funny honest talented adventurous loud and also LAUGH AT THEIR OWN JOKES. And they are a fucking joy. And they recognise you so you gain sisters. And you know that if you think they are amazing, why are you trying to make yourself smaller and less. And you get your AWESOME back.

I've been told I'm too loud and loquacious, and too brash, sexual and opinionated. Several hilarious occasions where I have been totally belittled and shut down were by people of authority who, you would think, would understand my young age and why I might be very chatty, but actually revelled in telling me off. 
One police officer told me off for being upset when my student house got robbed and trashed. He was quite rude to me, it was weird because he was asking ME questions and not listening and telling me to be quiet!? They smashed our bathroom window and trashed our house in a rather violent manner. I was 20, and in tears when I came home to see everything this fucked up. A time one might allow a young lady to be upset about, and not a time to tell said young lady to shut up and listen. Another funny occasion was when I was having my dyslexia tested at my university campus. While the lady asked me confusing and personal questions, about my way of living, my thought process etc. She snapped and said she doesn't have time for long answers. Again, I was there to get help, at a vulnerable level where I already felt small already. 
My tutor at university, whom I studied contextual studies with, gave me a massive telling off, in front of my whole class. The reason being we were put into groups to discuss old magazines and how the adverts made women out to be house maids (they were 1950's magazines) and the three girls I was paired with were not interested AT ALL. And were on their phones, which they hid under the desks. So when it came to discuss what we thought to the class, one girl said she couldn't get a word in because I wouldn't stop talking. Which was totally untrue, these girls had NOTHING to say, and were not interested in the slightest. I asked them questions and they didn't care. I then got a telling off for dominating the group, like a child at secondary school, no a woman at university. 
I've been told off by an older nurse lady, who said very loudly and angrily that I was obese and needed to lose weight. Another doctor I spoke to had a massive go at me, as if he were my father?! Because I had unprotected sex and admitted to using the "pulling out technique" one or twice. Again, I was not being honest to a professional with the view I would be told off? Or put down, or told to be quiet. 
The impact of these people, telling me off and telling me to be quiet, made me feel ashamed to have feelings and to ask for help. I went through life feeling as though it was pointless to be honest, to ask for help, to be myself. 
I do talk a lot, I am loud at times. I've learnt to curb this all, to be more succinct and tactful. But as a young lady I felt these professionals were very unprofessional towards me. I think it's stopped me making friends, because I feel scared to be told off or shut down.  I combatted this by learning to chose when to be open, who is worth being honest to, who I can be myself around. It's a never ending guessing game, I have to shut myself down in most cases to avoid being told I'm too loud or chatty or whatever. Just in case. I now attend counselling (not for this precise reason but it helps a lot). 

I have been told, on many occasions, that I am too opinionated.  I do have a lot of opinions about a lot of things, which you probably see on my social feed haha!  I know some friends purposely avoid subjects that I am passionate about, which makes me sad, but on the other hand, I won't apologise for being passionate about my beliefs and causes I think needs publicising. It makes me sad, and frustrated.  Because up until the past few years, I did not have the confidence to speak out.  To say what I really wanted to.  
I was always the silent one in a conversation, I did not speak up.  I was under confident and felt that society as a whole did not want to hear from the fat girl.  I could be the atypical "funny fat girl" but having an opinion on a subject was something that I felt that I was not allowed.  Even now, with confidence gain; being fat detracts from my point of view constantly.  As a fat woman, and a feminist, I am automatically stereotyped as a "feminazi" who can't get laid.  
My political and social beliefs are put down to, again, as one man put it "If you were thin and had a man, you wouldn't need to champion all these causes, you would be normal".  I have no desire to be normal, no matter what shape or size. After decades of not saying what I really think through the fear of not being liked and accepted; to now, finding my confidence to be able to be who I really am, my thought process is, screw it.  I would rather have an opinion than none at all.  The people who dislike my opinions don't need to.  I don't need their approval.  My true friends accept me for who I am and if they feel the need to avoid certain subjects with me, that is fine.  They still love me and I have been told since that despite the avoidance of certain subjects, they admire my passion.  So I won't dial back.  I will continue to live to the beat of my own drum because, hell, I think I deserve to.  Everyone does, 
The truth is, I love being passionate about what I think and speaking up.  It has taught me so much.  Conversing with people has both affirmed and changed my opinion on many subjects. It brings me joy and that can never be wrong. 

Pretty much all my life I've been told I'm "too soft" and as an adult that's changed to, too emotional, over thinking and taking things too personally. It's been used as a insult as well as an attribute. It's been said formally in one-to-ones or passing comments by colleagues. I get it less by friends because they tend not to see that side of my life. In work I have to be assertive whereas "home" me is very passive. 
It annoys me now more than ever, I find myself having to police my own feelings and reactions to people who seem totally oblivious to how their actions can effect me. In a client facing role my "softness" is my biggest asset, it helps me connect and build relationships as well as get stuff done. But it also means that people use it against me and break my confidence in a heartbeat. I am constantly battling between them being in the wrong and feelings of "is it me?" 
By being emotional, I'm not constantly in tears or can't take constructive criticism; I can, I'm very honest about myself and where I need to improve. I appreciate feedback and can take things on the chin. It's when people hone in on and pick up on my self doubt and subsequently use that as a weapon. 
I have to find reason with people who know me well - who I trust. People I can openly ask "is it me?" and who will give me an honest answer. I also have friends who really champion my personality type and help that fire of confidence keep going.  

Throughout my life I have been told that I am a strong person by friends and family alike.  I endeavor to consider other people's thoughts, feelings and priorities and 'get on with it' without creating much fuss even when facing life's challenges. However, in adult life, this concept of emotional strength and resilience became tied up with that of independence.  I have spent most of my adult life as a singleton and without a very obvious reason for my being single (no obvious physical disfigurement or apparent abhorrent personality traits), there had to be something... Then, yes, oh wait, it was because I was 'too independent'.  Friends and family alike proffered this nugget of wisdom that this was the reason why I was single.      Upon hearing this train of thought again and again over the years by different people in my life, this had a detrimental impact on my self-confidence.  It made me question how I behave with other people, my values and my beliefs. It made me feel like my independent spirit was a defective part of my personality.  Although I am sure that for the most part, the sentiment behind giving the advice had been along the lines of helpfulness, thoughtfulness and concern for my future happiness, by diminishing my self-confidence, it had the opposite result of adding to any feelings of anxiety and unhappiness that I already had and making me feel like there was no point in pursuing a relationship because I would ruin it with my overly independent streak.   Naturally, I was very upset at what felt like an ongoing personal attack.  Yes, I am an independent person, but I am also a sensitive, caring and loving person as well.  And in being independent, I don't agree that resigns you to an life of isolation and loneliness! I always think it is important to consider any advice given to you by someone that genuinely cares for your welfare.  For this reason, you have to honestly evaluate your relationship with the person offering the advice and acknowledge whether this advice is due to genuine concern or a result of their own values and beliefs (which you may not necessarily share) or a negative outlet for their own insecurities.  For instance, from men, I generally disregarded and at times challenged them, questioning whether my independence was a general issue or their incapability to deal with a woman with her own mind and ability to look after herself.  For close friends and family members, I considered what they really meant by what it is to be 'too independent'.  In reality, my independence in respect of my opinions, choices and finances was not the issue at hand.  The real issue was that I was not open to the idea of meeting someone. 
But at 30, I changed all that.  I moved to a different city and tried online dating with real success.  I am now at a point in my life where I am fortunate enough to be with a person who I love and who loves me back. I am still independent but he respects and values that about me. I don't need him, I want him in my life.  And that's what I consider to be a true, equal, happy partnership. 

As soon as I got tall (when I was about 14 - I'm 6'1") I started becoming aware that kids my age thought I was some sort of freak, and that it was hilarious to make fun of me for being a gangly awkward tall girl. My dad was the first one to tell me that the reason boys weren't interested in me was because I was too tall, that they were intimidated (he said it from a place of love and trying to make me feel better). I also think that in a sense fashion has always told me I was too tall by not catering to me, by making me 'other', by forcing me to pay more and look elsewhere and make dressing myself more complicated and harder than for the average person. Weirdly, I have always loved being tall and nobody was able to dent that feeling for me. I don't know why. I always felt annoyed and mildly upset that men found my height intimidating, but to be honest my thinking they were pathetic for that was the stronger, more dominant feeling. I have always been slightly embarrassed about my massive feet, but only slightly. I find it more amusing than anything else. However, some people's attitudes have dented me a bit and made me feel hurt, but I think that was more to do with my general self esteem than my height per se. I've had instances where people have told me I was in the wrong queue for the toilets, or said "oh sorry mate" when they've bumped into me, then grimaced as they've realised I was a woman. I think most women would have a wobble if they were mistaken for a bloke.  I've had men recoil, &/or grimace &/or swear when they have noticed me and my height. The least harmful-yet-stupid reaction is men blurting out "Bloody hell, you're tall!" at me which happens all the time. I even experienced sexual assault where my height was a factor (won't go into too much detail, but it involved short males seeing how easy it was to get their hands up my skirt and further when I was a young teenager). So I guess in that sense the impact has been that I am acutely aware that my height is an issue for men, even though it's not an issue for me. When it comes to fashion, the impact is that I've felt incredibly frustrated and that my life would be so much easier if I were shorter/average height. And I feel like I've missed out a bit on heels and lovely shoes. But I've never wanted to be shorter. I just wanted to be catered to (fashion is better now and seems to be getting better all the time, but it was a nightmare until about 2010). 
I don't feel negative about my height. And I fully 100% believe that if other people have an idiotic reaction to my height, that is entirely on them. I just think they're pathetic. And fashion has come along now to the point where I am rarely frustrated so that's just lucky I guess. I now know where to look for clothes and I know what's going to work for me from regular clothes. Trial and error. 

 I feel like we have some kind of gang here - A gang of incredible people who have their own "Too" Superpowers and I want to say a huge and sincere thank you to each magnificent one of them from the bottom of my heart.  I hope you've enjoyed / taken something away from this post because this is just Part 1 - I have a wealth of incredible people ready to share their thoughts with you in my drafts right now and I intend to continue sharing until the end of February. If you'd like to contribute, be it openly or anonymously, please get in touch with me at
If you are having negative thoughts right now and need to talk to someone - You Are Not Alone. There are details of people who can help at the bottom of my holiday post here.  Please know that you are important, you are worthy and you are loved.
Em x