Motorway Epiphanies


I love to drive. I love to get into my car and drive miles on end to Uptown Girl by Billy Joel or a good, motivational podcast. I love the feeling of independence that jumping behind the wheel brings and the fact that I can take myself anywhere in the spur of a moment.
I’ve had many an epiphany when driving, driving alone always tends to fire up the old brain.
I’ve been inspired so intensely – by a random thought or a song or whatever – that I’ve parked up the car at a service station and journalled furiously into the notes section on my phone.
I’ve had two and half hour conversations with friends over my hands-free, putting the world to rites, and I’ve had tunes pop into my head that I’ve scrappily recorded as voicenotes before running home to my piano and creating some kinda song out of them.
Fuck, once I was driving into London late one evening listening to a SuperSoul episode with Maya Angelou. She quoted ‘I come as one, but I stand as ten thousand’ – talking of ancestors – and I spontaneously combusted into tears because at that moment, I suddenly felt overwhelmingly connected to my late Grandad. I never got to meet my Grandad (he died five years before I was born) but, right there and then, it was as if he was sat in the passenger seat next to me.

Some pretty magical moments have happened in my car.

So after spending five months out of the country, close to death in Chinese taxis on a few occasions and subject to a minor Uber crash in Cape Town on another occasion, I jumped in my car again and hit the motorway.

And sure enough, I had a moment and stopped the car at Woodall Services for a bathroom break and to write it down (italics are the jottings).


‘Going through a time of self-preservation and protecting one’s self at the moment, after a particularly intense period in life. Survival mode – acting upon instinct just to get through each day because I’m feeling completely burnt out in every way: physically, emotionally, mentally, socially…’


It says something that, over Christmas, I completely lost touch with how to be at a party, socialising with people who I’ve known and loved for years. I’m the biggest extrovert I know, constantly living with the fear of missing out and I usually FUCKING LOVE a party. But I found myself just not knowing what to do, say or how to feel remotely like myself.

I’ve felt fucking knackered and, in all honesty, so far from who I deem to be ‘myself’.

Now it’s understandable why as I’m processing a lot at the moment – digesting a truly unique period of my messy-as-hell-life so far. I’d just got back from touring China playing an incredible, but intense, woman in an incredible, but intense, show. Finishing a job always cuts me up because I fucking love what I do, but this one felt particularly special and, in return, particularly difficult to leave behind – not to mention living in a different country for five months on top. I mean, I forgot what a comfort zone felt like but, as always, was completely grateful for the experience I got to have, doing what I love whilst travelling new corners of the world.
But this got me thinking of how I have dealt with the unstable reality that is my life, the life of a jobbing Actor, in the past and the anxiety that has gradually crept in to accompany it. Upon learning and acknowledging, a few years ago, that life wasn’t going to be as simple and easy as I once dreamt of as a young and naive teenager, I – like a lot of other twenty-something millennials – embarked on a journey of ‘self-help’.

You take on the burden of self-improvement, read 27 self help books, study the law of attraction and come to the commonly talked about conclusion that what you give off is what you get etc.
You think that this means, in order to heal and to get the good job, the great love and all of the money in the world – you have to work on yourself to be the most talented badass bitch you’ve met and you have to shed the 2 stone you’ve gained from being plain fucking miserable – and skint – from emotionally eating your way through the JustEat menu. You have to cut out the chocolate, tell the toxic people in your life to do one and say No to shit that doesn’t honour who you are whilst simultaneously having to work your arse off doing jobs you hate, with people you feel don’t know or respect you, in order to stay afloat… otherwise you end up drowning in debt and eating supernoodles.

Basically, you have to do a lot of things that are either supposedly meant to help you ‘love yourself’ – as society sees it – whilst doing the shit that is deemed ‘necessary’ to survive, which can be completely soul-destroying and counterproductive to the self-help, quick-fix shit that’s telling you to love yourself. Basically basically basically… what a shit cycle.’

This excerpt from Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive sprung to mind:

“THE WORLD IS increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.”

― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Lord above.

‘One day, you realise that doing all of the above still hasn’t ‘fixed’ you. None of the above has made you the best version of yourself. You are still here, in the same place you were five years ago, so unhappy and unsatisfied with yourself that you believe depriving yourself of opportunities that could potentially be so good for you is the best option, ‘until you figure your shit out and feel more whole’.

What does that even fucking mean? ‘Figure your shit out’. ‘Make yourself whole’.
Why am I telling myself that I need to ‘work on myself’ constantly? Why am I so unkind to myself? Seeing flaws as brick walls rather than quirks to be embraced and dealt with, with care. Would I do this to my friends? No, I wouldn’t.
I am my own worst critic.
I’ve convinced myself somewhere along the line that, to put it bluntly, I am undeserving of happiness and wow, that sucks. I can be an arsehole at times but I don’t think I deserve to beat myself up as brutally as that, jesus.


I’ve no idea of the specifics that have created that narrative in my mind, probably to do with lots of past traumatic experiences, but I’ll tell you one thing: I didn’t like it.
Why couldn’t I just accept myself? Accepting shit makes it easier. I’ve learnt to accept smaller aspects of my life for what they: anxiety attacks in the moment, rejection, being pigeon-holed occasionally (the list goes on)…
…so why can’t I just at least try and accept myself?

Although I’m gradually getting better at it and I’m constantly working on it, being kind to myself is the only antidote, an active way I can change this narrative. Being kind to myself AS I AM RIGHT NOW and not how I intend to be when I’ve lost two stone and ‘balanced my chakras’.


I am starting to realise that one of the greatest forms of self-love is self-acceptance
and I ain’t gonna find that in a book or by listening to a podcast.

And I believe that day; in the car-park of Woodall Services with a busy head, a scraggy hair do and tired eyes, I made my first of many steps towards being more accepting of myself and I know I’ve got a fair few steps to go.

Stepping back into the gym, after that festive season, is gonna have to be one of ’em like!

15 tweets that made me feel less alone.

So I’ve not written in a while because, essentially, I’m dealing with a life thing and can’t write to share atm.
I’ve sat this evening in a pile of my own emotional shit, feeling relatively blue and giving myself a hard time about it – extremely frustrated with one’s self. Now, I’m learning to be kinder to myself when it comes to this but it’s something I’m having to learn to do and it’s a work in progress kinda thing.
So I did maybe the worst thing I could possibly do in this situation, I took to social media.
BUT. During some tough, ‘messy head’ times recently, I’ve been hugely inspired/entertained by some fantastic women. So hey, I found these tweets that I’ve spotted over the last few months and put them all in one post and I hope that if you’re out there reading this, feeling blue just like me and not sure how or what to do to get yourself out of it, aside from down a tin of G&T and gorge on some crap food whilst watching all 10 seasons of Friends, well hey… you’re not alone. There’s good people out there and hey, sometimes they feel the way you do. And they have a fuck load of faith in the Universe and you. And they’re out there, sharing their truths and guess what, you have every right to do that to.
Thanks for lifting me up when I needed it gals!
Hope I can do the same for you one day ❤️
J x
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Before you go to bed tonight, my girls…doesn’t matter who you are and what you’re like. you’ve got BDE* and that’s a fact. Don’t let ANYONE step on ya. Night. **(BDE is big dick energy)

This is a shoutout to all my ladies who muddle through work (on and off the stage) with the period pain/brain/bloat. I was wading through FOG during tonights show. My brain & body were NOT playing ball. So, Ladies, just a reminder. YOU ARE AMAZING for handling this once a month!

‘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…