Monday, 5 October 2015

The tide of change

For a moment so large, it suddenly seemed effortless. Smoothly, the tide of relentless traffic carried me here, to my new home for the year. Another new chapter. Calmly, it washes me up; a small shell tossed carelessly yet simultaneously gently alongside all the others.

Maybe it was and is my drive for something more, the chase of that immeasurable inconceivable goal somewhere off in the distance, that has blurred my vision making everything glisten with positivity and ambition.

Two weeks after the initial drop, I sit here brimming with content. Fourteen days and only one miniscule blip later and I still feel that same vein of hope pulsing through my veins. I’m excited to embrace the inevitable tough challenges as and when they come my way. In no way am I naïve enough to believe I will not encounter complications but I already feel more self assured than before. Stronger. Capable.

No doubt about it, the forthcoming year will be the most demanding and intimidating yet. Daily, I am surrounded by intelligent, driven individuals who are unknowingly pushing me to be better, to achieve greater. However, I am fortunate enough right now to be in a position where I have the opportunity to decipher the best qualities of myself and to nurture them, pursue them, encourage them.

A fresh start.

A new beginning.

The clichés are correct; I feel able to leave behind the negative aspects and people of the past, allowing the tide of life to wash them away allowing me to keep only those that matter most. And with that comes a clearer mind. A chance to focus on what really matters; to prioritise the right things and people. Finally.   

For now, the distance has brought me closer to certain individuals than I imagined it would. And I’d leave time and time again if it meant we’d maintain that, and I could keep this new found positivity.

Charly Cox  recently wrote a beautiful piece on her travels to Amsterdam in which she epitomized how I’m feeling better than I ever could:

‘It is here I am letting learning throw me into adventure and in turn discovering teachings that haven’t been bred from pain.’

Come on London, let’s go and have the year of our lives.

A
xxxx


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Challenge that is being Ourselves

There were no tears this time. There was no fight. No anger. Not even a lot of sadness, really. No want to scream out at the world, 'Look at me, hurt once more because of yet another man!'

No, this time there was only silence. 

The aftermath was like a tranquil water. Two sailboats drifting away from one another, their paths having crossed for a brief, unplanned and undefined distance, seemingly never destined to align.

And that was okay.

Sometimes, that's just the way it goes. Not all people are meant to be permanent fixtures in our lives, regardless of how good the memories created together are. 

The challenge comes not in them leaving, but in learning to not be defeated because of it. 

------

It takes courage to put yourself out there, I believe. To hold your hands up and say, 'Well, this is me. This is what I have to offer. Is that good enough?' 
The reason it's so difficult is obvious. What if they say no? What if this person/company/university doesn't want what I have to offer? What if they decide to choose someone else; a better fit? What will I do then?

Often, it can seem a hell of a lot easier to shut yourself off from the world. To live inside a box, creating a safe space for yourself; barriers up at all times never letting anyone in. If you never chase who or what you want, you can never be rejected. 

I've often found, especially when it comes to romantic scenarios, that it can seem sensible to adapt this method of pushing people away, with the mindset of 'If I do this, they can't hurt me in the future. I won't allow myself to be weak in front of them in order to protect myself' governing and controlling every action. But, what I've come to learn is that this mindset isn't what we wish it to be. Instead, it's a 'defence' mechanism that actually ends up doing most of the damage it's supposedly protecting us from. By pushing people away, we segregate ourselves. I won't pretend I'm old and wise in this department and claim that for many years I acted wrongly and now know the exact way to go about relationships and love with a 100% success rate. Hell no. 

But, what I have learnt in the past year is that opening up to situations rather than shying away is so much better in the long run.

By granting yourself permission to unapologetically enjoy somebody's company, you suddenly open yourself up to a whole realm of emotions, experiences and moments that you'd been missing out on before.

By allowing yourself to laugh uncontrollably in front of someone no matter how many times it means you snort and/or choke, you'll cry tears of happiness more frequently than for any other reason. 

By being yourself and not this air of cool, calm and collected you've been striving to maintain, you make yourself vulnerable but in my opinion, it's a risk worth taking.

Sure, it could end badly. This person could end up walking out of your life without a single word of explanation, the job you finally got could may well be the real life representation of your worst nightmare, but it'll be okay. A better person or opportunity can and will come along eventually. 

People who allow themselves to be vulnerable are arguably the strongest. Why is it considered admirable or brave to say how you feel? To be yourself? To go after what you believe will make you happy? Surely we long for somebody to fall for the person we are, or to employ us based upon our true skills, not a facade we hide behind? The sooner the mask is removed, the sooner rewards can be reaped.

It's a risky game. You can and will get hurt. People will lie, cheat, and leave. You will fall for the wrong person countless times. You will work innumerable hours for horrid companies. But, I firmly believe, when it ends up being right, it'll be the best thing ever. And the only way to get there is to continue to put yourself out there no matter how many times you get knocked back.

And it is that belief that is keeping me motivated recently.

A
xxxx


Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Final Bow

I am every story I have ever read. I am every show I have ever been in or worked on. Every character I have ever played, every scene from each plot I have written or directed, every moment I have organised.

Because that’s what life is made up of, moments. Clusters of actions spurred by feelings, responsibilities, consequences. Moments compressed together to create the bigger pictures that we look back upon and reminisce.

Sometimes, these moments aren’t easy to look back on with happiness, but luckily for me, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the last three years experiencing and creating extraordinary ones whilst participating in six shows with my Musical Theatre Society throughout the duration of my undergraduate degree.

This is a post that has been a long time coming, and is bound to be packed full of romanticised rememberings, clichéd comments and general soppiness. So, if you cringe easily, now is the time to hit that back button of yours.

-----

It is immensely difficult to put into words what being part of a theatre company is like to those who have never experienced it before without sounding like an over-the-top lunatic. But for those that do know, you’ll understand. You certainly don’t need a team of highly-paid professionals, masses of money, huge venues and sell-out shows to be part of something special.

On the 22nd May 2015, my time in Coventry University’s MTS came to an end. Struggling through my final bow during our closing performance of Loserville, tears of joy, sadness and sheer pride streaming down my face, I knew it was the conclusion of something amazing.

How had three years with these people passed so quickly?

The timid little Fresher version of myself bowing with the ensemble at the end of our first showcase over two years previous seemed unfathomable now. Here I was, for the final time, bowing with some of the most crazy, incestuous, enthusiastic, talented and driven people I’ll ever meet. This was the end of three indescribable years of being able to participate in the thing I love most and be unapologetically enthusiastic about it. And boy, did that hit me.

Participating in MTS throughout the duration of my undergraduate degree has challenged and supported me in ways I did not expect when signing up back in September 2012. I’ve had three years to learn more about myself, to discover my strengths and weaknesses, to solidify which direction I wish my life to go in as I step into the abyss known more commonly as ‘Adulthood’.

ACT ONE

First Year was exactly that; a time of firsts. This was the first year I had performed with anyone other than people I’d been friends with since starting Primary school. It was the first year I’d been led and directed by a creative team that weren’t paid to do so. People who were doing it purely because they wanted to.

It was the first year I began to push the boundaries I had formerly set for myself; the first year I had ever chosen to put myself forward for a leadership position. The first year I properly believed I could succeed at something without having a team of teachers guiding and persuading me into doing so.

It was the first year I got absolutely smashed at socials far too regularly, making memories that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to erase, and hangovers I certainly wish I could’ve.

It was the first year I was completely out of my comfort zone, and it was the year I began to embrace it.

ACT TWO

The game significantly changed in Second Year. Whilst the socials were a given to continue, when September rolled around, I was suddenly faced with the task of fixing and leading a society. MTS wasn’t completely broken, but I’d be lying if I said it was up to the standard I wanted, and knew we could be.  The following nine months brought a whole host of Artistic Team line-ups, unexpected cast alterations, a number of musical issues, struggles to locate funds, but most importantly an outcome of two fantastic shows with two equally as fantastic and happy casts. We pulled it off.

Being in charge was a steep learning curve. Juggling a degree, part-time job, family and social commitments alongside nurturing a society is no easy feat. However, thanks to having an incredible team of people to work with, most notably our wonderful director for Guys and Dolls plus such supportive friends willing to help in any way possible, we succeeded. We couldn’t have done as well as we did without my fellow Squares (to name only a couple) tolerating my constant stressing, offering guidance without judgement, and creating laughter when there were almost tears.

I’ve never been more comfortable or confident within a responsibility as when I was leading MTS. Every day I felt driven, determined, exhilarated and ready for whatever challenge was going to be thrown our way. I aim and long to feel that way again in my future career, whichever road my upcoming Masters takes me on. If I find a project, role or company that makes me feel even vaguely the same as I did when I was President, I’ll know I’m on the right track.

ACT THREE

I still can’t quite put into words what Final Year meant to me. Everything we did seemed just that, final. And although I was bracing myself for the ending from the beginning (because I have an incessant need to be in control when it comes to emotion, and figured if I could plan my feelings they wouldn’t be so extreme), it came around so very quickly I hadn’t quite worked out how to deal with it.

The first term brought with it winds of change; a showcase that was more than a simple compere dotted between musical numbers. It was the first time I’d worked as part of a team to organise and provide costume and set, and whilst we were relatively restricted, I took a lot of enjoyment from the experience. No Day But Today brings back hilarious memories of crawling across a dance floor stage desperately holding down laughter whilst simultaneously singing ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ in what was perhaps the most awkward dance routine I’ve ever done. Tears appeared during the final number, ‘Finale B’ from Rent! on our closing night, as I realised there really was ‘no day but today’.

Loserville.

Ah, Loserville. You broke me in such a beautiful way. Like glass shattering in slow motion, a mess crumbling everywhere but somehow still managing to sparkle. No matter how stressed, annoyed, angry and bossy I got during the run up to this show, it’s going to take a hell of a lot to beat it. Sheer determination to create the show I knew we could perform, and the cast deserved to have (plus a lot of caffeine, alcohol and good company) got me through the insane final two weeks before the curtain went up.

To end my time in MTS with Loserville was so fitting. Ever since seeing the show on the West End, I knew it was the ideal musical for us as a society to perform, especially this year with the members we had. And although some people were dubious towards it at the beginning, by the end there wasn't a single cast or crew member not crazily proud of what we’d created.

Words can't describe what Loserville meant to me. It may have driven me insane with stress at times, but I was determined to get the version of this show I'd dreamed of doing on stage. This was evident with my constant moaning about the Planetarium scene, for example. It was going to be just the way I wanted it and nothing else. And on the final night, when the projection of those stars hit the screen at the perfect time, and I walked backstage to see the cast and band all enjoying themselves, the cast singing to the audience but also to one another, tears in some eyes, hands being held, silent nods of appreciation and pride being passed around, it’s safe to say I lost it. A blubbering mess I became once more. Witnessing everyone there performing together so beautifully as a collective, a cast, a team; all that stress melted away and it was all so very worth it. I’m beyond gutted I don’t get the chance to be a part of that again.

-----

I am every story I have ever read. I am every show I have ever been in or worked on. Every character I have ever played, every scene from each plot I have written or directed, every moment I have organised.

Because that’s what life is made up of, moments.

And oh, am I grateful I got three years of making moments with you.

Stay Geeking, guys. I can’t wait to see what you do next year.

A
xxxx


Sunday, 5 April 2015

A Lesson.

For you thought you had it,
all figured out,
Bounding blindly through ignorance,
Without a shadow of doubt.

But then the truth, it came hurtling,
Left with nowhere to run
Down it came crashing,
You have no choice but to learn.

Don't let this beat you,
Do not give up,
Put yourself first,
And don't give a fuck.

Learn to let go,
Learn to start again, 
Learn how to love yourself,
How to be your own friend.

Learn to focus on what's
really important.
Work to make your dreams reality,
Don't leave them dormant.

For you are much more 
Than this stuff getting you down,
And although it doesn't feel like it,
You can turn this around.

And so now all that's left,
is down to you,
You've got to believe it, 
in order to get through.

Things will get worse
before they get better,
But you're strong enough to ride out,
this wave of shitty weather.

And soon you'll look back,
On this hurt; all this strife,
And you'll say
You know what?

It was just some bad days,
It's not a bad life. 

A
xxxx

Saturday, 7 March 2015

A Positive Promise to Myself.

'What are you so afraid of?'  I was asked, casually one evening. The lights were dimmed, and I had a pair of all-knowing eyes burrowing into mine, desperately searching for an answer. For a way in.

'Failure. Vulnerability.'

'But if you never try, you'll never know.'

Ah, I thought, the classic response. 
Of course, it's correct. If you don't attempt something, there's a very slim chance of knowing what the outcome would've been 100% certainly. 

And that terrifies me.

I like being in control. Of having an extremely good chance of weighing up what will come next, the potential outcomes, and then planning for them. But for some things in life, there's no way of knowing. 

You can either dive in head first with nothing more than blind faith, hopeful for the outcome you truly desire.

Or, you can choose not to go after it, and always wonder what might have happened.

For far too long now, I've chosen option two. 

I've always being too scared to let my guard down and show a side of vulnerability only a minute selection of people ever see. Once I've been hurt by someone or something, it's always taken me a long time to recover and allow myself to repeat the process again with the risk of experiencing the same disappointment. 

However, at the start of 2015, I made a promise to myself. It wasn't your classic resolution of a set goal with defined ways of reaching it. It was simply an internal promise to do better.
Or at least to try to.

To make an attempt at not being too afraid to go after the things I want. Even though they're likely to be the same things that scare me the most. 

And so, in the past two months I've consciously made that change. 

And oddly enough, all things considered, it's paid off better than I could ever have imagined.

 I applied for Masters courses in London, the city I've said for many years I wish to live in one day. Even if it's only for a short while, I long for that to be a chapter in my life. 

And I got in.

I've actually been offered a place to study, and as long as I can financially sort everything, come September, Coventry may not be my home anymore. 
And that terrifies and excites me in equal amounts.
But, I'm choosing to focus on the excitement, and not let my fears alter anything.

In other situations, however, promising myself to face my biggest fears hasn't paid off in the way I hoped. This month has seen a rollercoaster of emotion. I've been overwhelmed by dramas both academically with the amount of work I have right now, and very much so socially. Events have transpired that could so easily have made me run kicking and screaming in tears back to the older version of me that never let people in. 
'You were right!' she'd scream. 'Why did I ever try and go against you?!'

But, she's not.  

That older version of myself was stunting her growth. As cliched as it is, each failure should propel you forward with the urgency to create positivity, not to cling on to what is lost.  Yes, I've been hurt a lot in the past few weeks. I allowed myself to do the thing that scares me the most and become vulnerable, and it backfired somewhat magnificently.

But that's okay. 

It isn't going to stop me from standing up, dusting myself off, and trying again. 

And by writing this tonight, I'm making both an outward and inward promise to myself to not let this tiny set-back, because that's all it will feel like eventually, just tiny, stop me from doing it again one day.

Things may seem upsetting, intimidating and overwhelming right now, but I know that in time they'll get better. And oh my, am I going to be stronger because of it. 

A
xxxx


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Hello, 2015!

As I say hello to 2015, and welcome all of the prospective adventures it brings with it, I can't help but feel nostalgic for the year that's just passed. 2014 was a whirlwind of emotion, but I have to say it was possibly the best year I've had so far.


There have been many highlights, but I won't go through them all, as it's not the most enjoyable post for people to read and it'd take a bloody long time!

So, as I love a good list, here we have one, to sum up briefly and without doing it full justice, what was an incredible year.
1. Showcase
January saw the first show the Musical Theatre Society put on with me as President. I adored every aspect of this show, and it was also the first time I'd ever performed on stage completely alone. Organising the showcase taught me a lot, and I had so much fun doing it.

2. Paddy's Day (and the rest of the socials)
Last academic year was a messy one for MTS! We had frequent socials that were all great nights out (and terrible mornings after!). Friendships were formed that I never expected, and others were strengthened and some awful photos made their way onto the internet to act as proof.

3. Guys and Dolls
Although this show was performed way back in May, I still can't quite put into words just how proud I am of it. I loved every single second of organising and performing alongside some of the nicest and most talented people I know. It's going to take a hell of a lot to beat that.

4. Awards
As if MTS hadn't done enough for me in 2014 by giving me the best friends I could've wished for and an opportunity to thrive and learn as an organiser/manager, we also went and won an Award of Recognition at the Societies Ball - an award created specifically to celebrate our achievements over the past year. I'm so proud of our little team of last year, and every time I look at the award sitting on my windowsill now it fills me with motivation and belief that if we can pull something like that off, we're pretty fantastic. Having the chance to dress up fancy, drink champagne, and be awarded for our hard work and dedication was an unforgettable way to end what was an amazing year.

5. The Tattoo
There were a lot of firsts for me in 2014, and getting my first tattoo was one of them! Ask me in twenty years if I think it was wise to get three squares tattooed inside one another on the side of my ribs and I'll bet you any money I'll still say yes. What looks like a sad attempt at being hipster and geometric actually means a lot to two of my bestest friends and me. It signifies our friendship, and the amazing year we had getting to know one another and just generally being great. When I look at it, I'm reminded of happiness, recklessness and fun. And just like the tattoo, I don't think those memories will fade.
(Pass me the sick bucket, already!)

6. Summer
Summer saw me choosing to not go back home, and instead live with a bunch of boys in a band. Trust me, it sounds a lot cooler than it was. Although, I did have a great time. Summer saw me let my hair and my guard down, and just have fun. We went to loads of gigs, including a private festival...I mean, come on! I spent a weekend in London attending Summer in the City which was fab. I also celebrated my birthday with friends and a successful night out for once! It was great. The perfect way to chill out before the challenge that September brought with it.

7. Morocco
The sixteen days I spent in Morocco at the start of September were easily the hardest, most challenging days of my life. Trekking to the top of Mout Toubkal was the toughest thing I've ever had to endure, what with suffering from three panic attacks during the ascent and yet somehow, with the help of a good friend, I made it to the peak. Looking back now, after months of reflection, I'm so pleased I did it. The trip itself was in no means the best time of my life; there were moments when I was so ill, so scared (being trekked off a campsite at midnight by Moroccan police is terrifying!), but there were times when I've laughed more than ever before!
Plus, I got to ride a camel and that's friggin' cool.

8. Damien Rice
Agh, I still can't put into words how amazing this day was. Seeing Damien Rice perform finally, and in the London Palladium?! Incredible. It was just, yeah, fantastic. Easily the best gig I have attended.
It was just a great day.

9. Tattoo No. 2

So, yeah. What started as one finished as two! The day after seeing Damien Rice, I was exploring Camden and wandered into a little tattoo parlour and decided that I needed to stop being a chicken and get the tattoo of an arrow on my wrist that I'd wanted for a while. Now, spontaneity is not normally something I'm comfortable with, but 2014 has taught me a lot about myself and the things I need to alter so I did it. It's a reminder to stay motivated, stay creative, and keep moving forward. No matter what, don't stop moving forward.

9. Graduation Week
It's not my graduation until this year (hopefully) but the rate I partied it may as well have been. I had my two best friends in Coventry for a whole week. A WHOLE WEEK. We caused a lot of chaos, made some great life choices, and drank far too much.

10. Other random times
There have been many other times this year that I've enjoyed; meeting up with my Childreach team at the Awards evening in Manchester was lovely, seeing Nina Nesbitt and Ed Sheeran live ticked a couple more boxes off my gig list. And a chilled Christmas at home with the family was a good way to end a hectic year. 

I'm not going to do the cliched thing of talking about how much 2014 has changed me, and how I'm going to be a different person in 2015, because quite frankly, what's the point? People are changing and evolving constantly, we shouldn't need the date to use as an excuse to buck up our ideas and go get the things we want most. Instead,  I just hope that this time next year, I can be writing an even longer post about all the incredible times I've had again. 
So bring it on, 2015. I cannot wait.


A
twitter | instagram
xxx