BEING STRONG & STABLE – without the kitten heels.

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!

Carrying on:

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.

‘TRAPPED IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION’: What they meant when they said ‘People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.’

Yo yo, I wanna just touch on the subject of loneliness. Loneliness is something i’d felt very little of until this year. Working outside of the UK, a long way from home, certainly had it’s perks (I have literally had the best, craziest, funniest, most BRILLIANT year EVER – no exaggeration)… but it also come with a few negatives. Loneliness being one.

I’ve felt completely consumed and overwhelmed by it, at points. I have let it take over me and reduce me into a sobbing mess. I’ve let it bite at my ankles, even when I’m surrounded by swarms of people in a busy theatre. I have sat on the edge of my bed in a hotel room, staring into space, convinced that I’d never feel different ever again, that I was going to feel like that forever. I’ve felt cast aside, even when I’m being included. I have actually not wanted to FaceTime or chat to people from home at times, for the sheer fact that it’ll make me feel even more out of place in the alien country that I’ve had to reside in at the time, with all the fear of missing out on what people are getting up to at home, without me. I’ve felt misunderstood, that I didn’t belong and that nobody liked me. To sum it up, I’ve felt pretty rubbish at times. I’ve found that I’ve been living in a ‘bubble’ all year. Everything inside that ‘bubble’ is extreme and seems more important. The stakes feel higher and emotions are heightened, due to there being less of a concept of what is happening back home, in our ordinary lives.

Existing in that bubble got awful lonely sometimes, even when I was surrounded by wonderful people.

I got homesick. I was meant to spend 2 weeks in Thailand. I spent 24 hours in Bangkok and flew home… the first time I’ve ever actually worried about my sanity was in my hotel room, as I scoured SkyScanner for a cheap flight outta there. I will throw my hands up and confess that I have struggled and I realised that I’m not as invincible as I thought I was.

One morning I spilt yoghurt on my jumper at breakfast and then couldn’t stop crying… how sad’s that?

As always, upon reflection, I try to seek a positive in such tough situations, a resolution. They say that people go away to ‘find themselves’. I never intended on taking this job solely to find ‘myself’. In fact, I have a pretty strong sense of who I am. I always have. I’ve endured processes where people have made me question that or have tried to ‘crack’ me or have led me to feel peer pressured into being what people want me to be/what people believe our industry wants.

And each time somebody or something has tried to affect me in such a way, I’ve come up for air knowing that I’m still the same person I was at 16, at 17, at 18 and so on. Just a bit older and bit wiser. You know, if I’ve found anything this year, I’ve found even more freedom in being just… well, me. That’s a huge positive I reckon.

 

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Manly Beach, Sydney.

But what this year has massively highlighted to me is my absolute adoration for people.
I am completely at the hands of the people I love.
Consumed by my relationships. My family, my friends.

You know, I’ve always loved the song People from Funny Girl. I adore the simplicity of it: the sweet little melody and the honest lyric. Obviously I’m a stagey little shit and a HUGE Barbra fan (what? Did I not say already?), but I think she sounds just glorious singing it. I think it’s one of her best. However I feel like I’ve only, this year, come to understand the lyric for what it truly means.

‘People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world’

If you were to ask me ‘What is the biggest thing you’ve learnt this year?’, I would respond with:

I need people.

The moment I booked my emergency flight home from Bangkok, back in May, I felt a huge wave of relief. I was just a 6 hour sleep and a 13 hour flight away from my people. I felt like I could breathe again.

I went home for two whole weeks and drunk those people in and I have never felt anything like it.
I’ll never forget how wonderful it felt. I’ll never forget how excited I was to be there with my friends in London – so much so, it started to get on their nerves (I admit, when I get like that, it can be a bit… overbearing?).

I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve made some FANTASTIC friendships during my time away too (I bloody love each and every one of you, you know who you are!) but there’s also nothing quite like being around the people who know you, inside out, back to front with the tag sticking out. Everything just kinda slots back into place, as if you’ve never left. Pure, unadulterated JOY.

I’ve gained a lot of perspective this year, as I mentioned in a previous post, and my love for people, and realising that people can make such a huge difference, is one big contributor to that.

Reflecting:

  • I know that I’d have adored my trip to Thailand, if I’d only shared it with somebody.
  • I’ve endured heartbreak and grief this year, like no other year before, and I am absolutely certain that I would not have dealt with it in the correct way if I didn’t have my family and friends surrounding me, talking me down and working things out.
  • I was recently made aware that a piece of advice that I’d given to somebody, something that I maybe didn’t think was all that relevant to me, has made a little difference. That one baffles me, how can I be qualified enough to give somebody advice when I’m still learning myself? But it helped regardless, and that’s pretty cool.
  • My Mam and Nan flew out to see the show in Singapore and if I’m honest, that’s when I realised that if I broke my leg the next day and couldn’t do the rest of the run, it wouldn’t matter. They got to see me in the show, on the other side of the world. My Mam and my 83 year old Nan. Being a part of a show that I’ve always dreamed of being a part of is one thing. Being able to share that with the people I love most, that’s priceless. Bloody GLORIOUS.15356073_10154045854225849_1418219579_n-1

These all serve as evidence in the case of ‘I Need People in Order to Exist’.

Thank you to my People! I love you!

People saved me from my Lonely Bubble, so I’m gonna continue to have faith in people whole heartedly.

Except maybe Donald Trump… but that’s a whole new ball game…

Melbourne // Photo Series

My love for street art knows no bounds and Melbourne was certainly not short of the stuff. Be still, my hipster beating heart. Magical.

PERSPECTIVE: that time I cried at a Marks and Spencer’s biscuit.

perspective
pəˈspɛktɪv
noun
  1. 1.
    the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other.
    “the theory and practice of perspective”
    2. 
    a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view.
    “most guidebook history is written from the editor’s perspective”

Perspective interests me greatly. I am absolutely fascinated by how different things can affect perspective. Different environments, different people, different cultures. We are one person, with one set of eyes. Yet, what we see in our teens can be so drastically different to what we see in our twenties. What we see and how we deal with things in one country can be so drastically different to what we see in another country. What we see through our own eyes is entirely different to what your Uncle Bob sees through his eyes. What a criminal sees as right, the average non-criminal sees as wrong. What you see as one colour may appear different to what another person sees (hence that whole stupid ‘WHAT COLOUR IS THE DRESS?’ escapade).

I guess I find it so interesting as my perspective has changed a lot lately. With age, with experiences, with reading and educating myself. It amazes me how differently I look at things now, from how I looked at them when I was eighteen.

When I was eighteen, the world was my oyster. I dreamt big, I dreamt of having a successful career, I dreamt of living comfortably in London and taking over the world, step by step. Stereotypical of a creative, aspiring teen performer, some may think. But I wasn’t completely naive to the industry I was entering, I had witnessed many friends trying and giving up because it’s a super tough world out there. I’ve always been a hard worker, I enjoy hard work. I enjoyed slogging away at school to get my A* in GCSE English Literature. I enjoyed pouring endless hours of research into new musicals whilst studying for my BTEC in Performing Arts, just so I could be the person singing a song nobody had heard before. I’ve always enjoyed that feeling of ‘getting educated’ and learning new things. On top of all of this, I dreamt big and had this burning hope in my heart that I’d be that super successful person I strived to be, one shiny day in the distant future. This is what I perceived to be ‘the ideal life’.

Cut to being twenty four. I’m currently sitting in a beautiful, organic restaurant in Makati, Metro Manila. If you were to ask me, at eighteen, ‘Where do you think you will be in six years time?’, I can bet you ten thousand pesos, right in the moment now, that I would not reply with ‘doing Les Mis in the Philippines?’. I am BAFFLED at the thought of being here. At least once a week, I ask myself ‘how on earth did you wind up here, Jess?’.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had a pretty great run in the industry so far, each job I’ve done has been very different to the previous job, artistically and logistically. I had a great year in London, a great year on the road in the UK and now, here I am in Asia. I have to admit, I’m completely rubbish at saving money, it’s the one thing that worries my mother (sorry Mam). And you know, if I was good at saving money, I probably would have enough to not be worried when the dark days of ‘funemployment’ loom, instead of panicking and working endless shifts in a pub to buy food and petrol.

But whilst being rubbish at saving money, do you know what I have done? I have travelled. I also have to admit, I’ve looked relatively well whilst doing said travelling because I have an endless need to buy clothes, but I have travelled. I have experienced places I have always wanted to experience and I have experienced places that I never intended to experience. Specifically, I’m currently experiencing and I’m about to experience EVEN MORE of a part of the world that I wouldn’t have dreamt of visiting if my job hadn’t have brought me out here. And boy, am I glad!

I’ve tried endlessly to write a piece about Manila, I think this must be my fifth attempt, and now I can finally weave it into this magical piece about perspective.

Because my perspective has changed.

Important things I have learnt from living in Manila:

  • We are just a tiny little human on a HUUUUUUUUUGE planet. No-one is more important than the next person. No culture is more important than another culture. Respecting other people’s cultures makes life easier for everybody. The filipinos are some of the kindest, most patient and most generous people I have EVER met, being a little more like them can surely NEVER be a bad thing? So yes, mutual respect IS everything. You can ALWAYS learn from people. If we all pulled our head out of our arses more often, we’d probably learn A LOT.
  • Poverty is much more than you see on TV or in magazines. Poverty is well and truly alive. I thought I’d experienced extreme poverty before. I’ve witnessed homelessness on the streets of London. Hell, I’ve felt so bad that I’ve bought things and handed them to the homeless people on the Strand before. But I had NEVER experienced a small child tugging at my skirt, begging for money, before I came here. I’d never seen a grown woman cradling a baby in one hand and holding an empty cup out in the other, under a lamppost on the corner of a street, asking for money to feed herself and her family. I’d never had a teenage boy asking me if I could give him my smoothie. But what really REALLY freaked me out about this whole thing is that, after about three weeks of being here, it felt normal to see all of the above. It was like I’d become immune to it. How on earth does it get to a point where you become immune to something like this? How is ANY of this normal? And how on earth did I not think this was a big deal when I was back in London, lapping it up and complaining about having to be waitress for a short time whilst being out of work? It BAFFLES me to this day.
    Yes, there are BEAUTIFUL areas of Manila, I’ve eaten the most delicious meals in awesome places. Which is what makes me sad. Because poverty is truly alive. And I feel like it’s important that everybody should be aware of this. It’s helped me to feel extremely grateful for what I have, for my wonderful family and friends and for the opportunities that I have been given.
  • I do indeed, have a fantastic group of people waiting for me at home, boosting me up from afar. Being here without them only strengthens my adoration and gratification for them. They make me who I am. I would happily take being short of money and unemployed but having a life filled with these amazing people over being successful, famous and alone ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

Now, I find myself not putting so much focus on ‘being uber successful’, ‘taking over the world’ and ‘having enough money to live comfortably’. I want a life filled with love, being creatively fulfilled and following whatever path that’ll take me to creative ventures, knowing that I have done everything in my power to understand and respect other people and their own perspectives. I want to see this beautiful world and what it has to offer. I want to come home to London at the end of it all and feel GRATEFUL for it, not complain about the shit transport system or Oxford Street being packed full of tourists, leaving me unable to busily power walk to my destination. Believe me Londoners, you haven’t experienced bad traffic until you’ve experienced Manila traffic, I’d take five hours of driving in Central London over driving ten minutes in Manila.

But most of all, I want to have exciting stories to tell my children. I want to have gotten the most out of what this wonderful life has to offer, while I can so I can tell my kids to do the same… because it’s so worth it. Like anybody on this planet, I want to love and be loved.

I cried at the sight of a Marks and Spencer’s packet of biscuits a few weeks back because I hadn’t seen them in so long. That night, I introduced some Aussy workmates to them and we ate the packet during the next few shows. How is that for cross-culturing behaviour?

I do miss a good old cup of Yorkshire Tea though.

Palawan