I became a parent for the first time just over five years ago and my life changed overnight. I became the one thing I had wanted to be for as long as I can remember - A Dad.
But, I also changed as a person too. My life began on that day.
It happened a lot later than I originally thought.
Becoming a dad at 37 was 7 years later than the plan I had in my head growing up. But then life never really works out how you expect it to, does it?
What I’ve come to realize recently is how much I’ve changed not just in the sense of being a parent and becoming responsible for a human being but in myself as a person. I was a painfully shy kid growing up and my time in school wasn’t brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t overly bad either. I did pretty well academically, and I had a decent set of friends. But I didn’t particularly excel at anything whether it was socially, academically or sport related. I was also bullied, mentally more than physically. The scars are still there.
Since becoming a dad my confidence seems to have grown exponentially and I’m now so much more comfortable in both social and work situations. I’m no longer that guy who keeps his head down and avoids eye contact and am the dad who ends up playing with all my daughters friends at birthday parties. I’m the person who now can hold a random conversation with a complete stranger relatively easily. I smile more and make a point of being polite to the people I interact with. Being nice has always been my mantra. Confidence hasn’t. Until now.
My attitude towards health and general well-being has also improved. I wrote about this in a blog post a while ago and have now added a press-up challenge to the mix which I’m still doing now. This has all happened since my daughter came into my life.
I am by no means perfect or the finished article. I still overthink way too much and I’m still prone to bouts of anxiety. I still embarrass easily when put under pressure in certain situations. But all of this evaporates when we are having one of our many Daddy-Daughter moments.
My attitude towards family and friends has also changed. Before becoming a dad, I was Mr. Social Organizer. I’ve been told a number of times in the past that I’ve been too nice and have been taken advantage of as a result. No more. It’s noticeable how my social life has changed now that I’m not the one constantly making the effort.
I have a theory on this. In every social group there are the people who make the effort to keep in touch and the people that don’t. That’s just the way it is. That doesn’t necessarily mean some are more considerate than others. It just means people have a certain role to play within a group. But there’s a line.
Currently for me that line is a bit blurred. I’m at a stage where I know I have the most important people around me and I don’t worry about the rest. However, if those I’ve lost touch with come back into my life, they’ll be welcomed with open arms. I just won’t be doing the running anymore.
Having a daughter has made me strive to be the best dad I can be. It’s also made me want to become the best person I can be. So, I wanted to say thank you to you, my darling daughter. You’ve made me become the person I am today. You changed my whole life for the better and I love you more than words could ever say.
Neil - OneDadsView writes about life as a working Dad to his 5-year-old daughter "iBear". He loves reading, gaming and keeping fit. Twitter: @One_Dads_View