Good morning and a Happy New Year to y’all.
I woke up this morning with this urge to write, something I’ve not felt in quite some time.
I felt the sun on the drawn curtains, trying it’s best to break through and light up my room. I felt the energy buzzing from it; the fizzy optimism, the hope and excitement at the possibility of new adventures to come, the burning need to jump out of bed to see what the world has to offer today.
The last time I felt this feeling was probably at the beginning of 2018, on the first day of my last job. Pure adrenalin-fuelled excitement. Pure heartfelt love for my existence. Pure authenticity; clarity of what I have to offer to the world if I venture outside my front door… love, creativity, ideas, encouragement, positivity.
I felt… myself.
2018 had started well. I was about to embark on this venture that was going to be a pretty big deal for me professionally. The dream job. After a pretty sucky 2017, bar a few incredible additions to my friendship circle and the funniest ‘job’ (I say job, it didn’t feel like one) in Dubai, I was so ready for it to kick off. All of my problems would be solved: I wouldn’t be skint, I’d be originating a cracking part in a brand new production and I’d get to travel about and see new places. The dream job. Happiness, fulfilment, satisfaction… mint.
The year progressed. We travelled from city to city… Birmingham… Edinburgh… Liverpool… Cardiff… the weeks rolled on by and as they did, I began to come to the realisation of one very important thing.
I wasn’t happy.
Not in a missed the bus, left my purse at home, tripped over and banged my knee kind of way.
Something wasn’t quite right.
I was completely uninspired. I’d sit and try to write and no words would come. I didn’t want to watch anything, I wasn’t particularly interested in hunting for new music to listen to and I couldn’t focus long enough to read anything that had any level of depth.
I started to feel panicky in social situations, insecure and unworthy and shit. Like I didn’t belong, or something. I was surrounded by people, friends, but felt a familiar pang of loneliness and isolation. A lone wolf. Uncomfortable and empty.
I felt like someone had skipped along and blown my candle out.
For a long time, I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was going through a little bit of a thing – don’t really know what else to call it. I was so confused. I’d always gotten on with everyone I encountered, why didn’t people get me anymore? It felt fucking shit and it made me unbearably insecure and hyper-aware of every little thing I did.
I was aware that I was in a great job, playing a leading part amongst a very talented bunch of humans and I was STILL unhappy.
Not BECAUSE of the job but DESPITE the job (yes I’m SHOUTING, for DRAMATIC effect).
Christ, THE GUILT that ensued from the thought of all of that was horrific. Feeling guilty and ungrateful on top of feeling unhappy – not fun, let me tell you.
I put a moany tweet up during this time, about how hard weekly touring was/how knackered I was and signed it off with ‘don’t get me wrong, I love my job – I’m just knackered’ or something. A really kind person latched on to the fact that I’d done that, felt I had to justify myself, and responded with
‘You are 700000% allowed to find your job hard and feel simultaneously grateful for it, the fact other people would love your job doesn’t mean your feelings about it shouldn’t be spoken about. Such a shame you have to put a disclaimer on it otherwise people would complain.’
@EmmaLouiseBetty THANKS GAL, you made me feel a lot better about myself when I felt pretty damn shitty and goodness, are you correct!
It was only when having a (paraphrased below) conversation with a cast mate late one night after a night out (big love to you V!) that I realised there was a deeper issue that I needed to address.
‘People just don’t get me, I don’t understand,’ I’d said.
‘Yeah but do you get you?’ my mate responded.
‘What do you mean?’ I replied.
‘Who is the real you? When you say people don’t get you, what is ‘you’?’ she said.
I’d thought about the response. She was absolutely right.
I was possibly having a little bit of an identity crisis and that wasn’t the show’s problem, that wasn’t my cast mates’ problem – that was my problem.
Now now now, I write this in a good space and won’t dwell upon the bad stuff for too long as it’s a processed thing of the past. The point of me writing today, with all of this in mind, is to share what I am going to do about it. I’ve already read one blog post this year, by my good pal Emma, chatting about life as a ‘resting’ actress and highlighting just what that entails – the 28348739 ordinary jobs we take on, not being paid on time sometimes (though from my Twitter feed atm, it seems it’s happening quite a lot) from work we’ve done, sacrificing the social life to work stupid hours… all that business.
I feel extremely fortunate to do what I love for a career, like… I fully love it from my head to my toes. I’m not even going to try and justify that and frankly, I don’t need to. I’m fully aware of what choosing to do this as a career entails, fully aware of the ups and downs. But it dawned on me last year, and has only become even more apparent as the months have rolled on since, that pinning my happiness on my work is no longer an option.
‘When my next job comes, I’ll be fine. I’ll save my money and I’ll be sensible and I’ll be happier,’ I’d said to myself, laid awake in my bed at 2am unable to sleep before having to get up at 6am for an early shift in a coffee shop. ‘It’s 2am and I’m miserable that I’m having to drag myself out of bed to get to my shift, to work 800 hours so that I can afford to live in this stupidly expensive city but have no life aside from that. But hey, when I start my new job and get out of this shit-hole, I’m going to be fine. That will amount to happiness because I won’t feel worked down to the ground.’
These are the thoughts that crossed my mind in 2017. I pinned my happiness on my career, especially as I was about to embark on a really big, exciting step up to a leading role. And because HEY, a leading role equals success… right?
Oh, how different I feel now. The minute I stepped into that lovely, artistically-juicy environment once more and realised ‘OH FUCK, THIS DOES NOT FIX THE SHIT UNDER THE SURFACE THAT I’VE BEEN SWEEPING UNDER THE RUG’… I knew I had a lot of work to do.
An actor’s life can be far from stable. But alas, I have discovered… there is more to life than an actor’s life. I put too much on my work, I expect too much. I have a lot of my own insecurities to deal with that my work cannot fix and y’know, that’s cool man. That’s kind of exciting I reckon.
Now, I can hear some of ya out there shouting ‘GET THERE QUICKER SON, I found that out 10 years ago – nowt spesh!’ and if you are, humour me. I am aware that we all reach moments in life when priorities shift, perspectives change and epiphanies are had. We each have these moments when they are truly needed for us, as individuals. We’re not in some kinda race here – I say this as I sometimes need to remind myself to stop comparing one’s own journey to others.
Well, it seems that I may have reached this moment, at the ripe old age of 27 (how the F I made it to 27, I don’t know. Still life in the old gal yet!)
I’ve had the epiphany and I’m gonna shout it loud and clear, for the people in the back and just to cement it even more so in my brain:
Pinning my happiness on my work is NO LONGER AN OPTION.
My happiness can only be manifested from one thing alone – myself.
And so begins a New Year in doing what I can to ensure that if and when I happen to be out of work, I can be happy. At the risk of sounding like the kitten heel extraordinaire Terry May… I want to be strong and stable and work is not the fix for that. I’m on a quest to build me a good, solid foundation, so that work can be my lovely kitchen extension that I enjoy spending time in on evenings with friends and I realise now, that it all starts with looking inwards.
I’m taking back the power.
Much more, with this all taken into account… I feel myself again.