“Look at you!”

Matt Goss, my childhood obsession, greeted me with a huge smile and hug. I was completely flummoxed and had no idea what to do. What do you do when you come face to face with your childhood pop idol crush? What do you do with your face? Smile? Cry? Panic? Scream?

I had been invited to a charity function at the time, and I just was not in the mood to attend. It was a cold, dark, wintery, Saturday night and I wanted nothing more than to stay in, binge on comfort food and watch my favourite movies. I had put on a couple of kilos but hadn’t got around to updating my wardrobe. What a big mistake. Absolutely none of my evening wear fitted. Nothing sexy anyway. Reluctantly, after wrestling with the – should I go, can I getaway with not going thoughts that were circling my mind – I accepted that cancelling would be very bad form and threw on a less than flattering black and gold dress that was wayy too tight, love handles bulging out from all sides.

Little did I know that my childhood crush would be the entertainment for the evening at this event. I was hugely self-conscious as I walked into the ballroom. It was filled with celebrities of all types, I remember Vanessa Feltz was sat on a table not too far away. I felt mortified that I hadn’t taken this event seriously and berating myself for having put on the extra pounds.

When Ronan Keating announced him, I nearly fell off chair. I felt a mild hysteria wash over me. Matt Goss. All 6 foot blonde vision of gorgeousness was right in front of me. I could not believe it. Ahh that smile, that wink, those eyes, they took me right back to those heady teenage years as a sixteen year old Brossette. He was my idol. My bedroom walls were plastered with pictures of the band. Matt, Luke and Craig, torn out of hundreds of Smash Hits magazines, covered my room from floor to ceiling.

My tablemates, a mixture of lovely ladies from a variety of different corporate donors encouraged me to walk over after his set, to ask for a photo. I was absolutely terrified. Never in a million years would I do that.  I was behaving like a ridiculous teenager. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head saying ‘oh grow up Sonia! Don’t be so ridiculous you’re in thirties!” But the lady sat next to me on my right side, turned and said “If you don’t do it, you’ll just regret it. I’m sure he’ll say yes, just go for it”. Wow. Said with such confidence. How simple and straightforward. How easy life is when you’re blessed such confidence. So, with much encouragement and nudging, I made my way over to where Matt was leaving the stage. As I walked towards him, his face lit up and he gave me a big smile.

“Look at you with the beautiful smile!” Matt Goss held out his arms to me for a hug and a kiss. I was rooted to the spot. this was what my teenage self had dreamt of, and as a teenager, I would have run into those arms but as a thirty something, I was struck by a huge waive of panic. What do I do? Oh My God I look a mess! I look so fat. He’s going to be horrified.

He walked forward, out his arms around me and gave me a big hug, kiss and posed for a photo. Such a pro. He didn’t even look at my dress. He looked me right in the eyes and noticed my smile. Looking back at it, none of the ladies at my table had looked at my dress either, they wanted to know my story. Where did I work? What did I do? My fears and insecurities were self-created blocks which, without the kind encouragement from my fellow diners, would  have obstructed me from having a fantastic evening.

I learnt a lot that night. Mainly, that I was seen, I was heard and I was supported by complete strangers. That my blocks were self-inflicted and what I thought was a big deal, really wasn’t to anyone else. When I looked at myself through their eyes, I wasn’t so awful after all. Access to community, kindness and encouragement plays an important part in helping us to heal the wounded part of our selves, which once healed, gives us the confidence to move forward and achieve our goals and live fulfilling and successful lives.

Matt Goss said I had a beautiful smile. He didn’t notice my dress, or my love handles. That’s what I choose to believe and it works for me.