It’s my birthday this week chums. I’m now officially in the autumn season of my twenties. Recently, I’ve been having a bit of a rough time. Work has been rubbish, creativity has been stunted, my heart has been bruised yet again, everything felt so viciously turbulent yet also bizarrely stagnant and I started to question what it was I was doing with my life. I said to myself, “Look. You are about to turn another year older. You have no money, no boyfriend, soon nowhere to live, no job, your career is seemingly at a dead end SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!”
So for a couple of months I panicked a bit.
But then, I realised the answer to that question.
I am being brave.
And I think you might be being brave too. So here’s what I mean.
The thing I am most proud of in my life, is not a beautiful house (yet), or an engagement (yet), or a job that pays incredibly (yet). I have no savings, I am cripplingly ambivalent about my future, I am still single and I STILL don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet. BUT. I am very proud of the fact that (wanky and a bit Disney as it sounds) I have followed my dream. I have stuck two fingers up at life and said ‘Listen! I have one shot at this short thing called life. I believe I am good at what I do, and terrifying as it is, I am going to give it the best bloody shot I can.” For me, this is being an actor. For you, it might be something totally different, but I think it boils down to the same principles.
Being brave for me, comes down to these things:
Work Hard- regardless of what it is you’re doing from moment to moment, your terrible temp job, a book you’re reading, some prep for a singing lesson, getting out of bed at the first alarm- whatever it is, Work Hard and do your best at it.
Focus- Focus on what it is YOU are doing right this minute. I mean, yeah, occasionally throw a thought over to the future and long-term goals and acknowledge what others are doing, but really, just concentrate on what you are doing this minute, in this hour, on this day.
Be nice to people- generally, just don’t be a dick. Smile, make conversation with colleagues, chat to your housemates, ask questions and compliment people. I’m telling you, random acts of kindness will give you a bigger buzz than a double gin after a 10 hour shift at work.
Sit up straight- you’ll be so surprised at what good posture does to your mood.
These are my four golden rules. Work hard, focus, be nice and sit up straight. I feel like regardless of what happens, if I do those things, I will be a good person and I will be proud. And from that, good things will happen.
Additionally, I think these things matter too:
Collaborate- you probably know more talented people than you realise. They may also be feeling not so brave and creatively-frustrated. Get together, sing some songs, look at some music, read some books, chat about some poems and plays, write a scene- it literally doesn’t matter if it never gets seen or heard by anyone, the act of doing it is enough. You’ll feel better, your brain will be buzzing and if you drink a bottle of red wine or a few pints (as my collaboration dates tend to go) you’ll probably be inspired to be more creatively active.
Just say yes to stuff- Go on dates, hang out in new places, eat new food, watch new films, listen to new tunes, experience new genres, write things even though you have no idea how, look at fresh art, catch up with old friends, read stuff that you’re intimidated by. Just think less and do more. Even if it goes spectacularly wrong, you’ll have some bloody good stories to tell.
Be proud of who and where you are in your own journey. Bitterness towards other people’s success and happiness will never accelerate you towards yours, so celebrate everything at all opportunities. (But by all means feel free to make the odd cynical remark about it, I mean we’re positive, but we’re not saints.)
Turning away from something doesn’t mean you have failed. If it feels right, be brave enough to say ‘I’m done with that, it was cool, I am now going to do THIS NEW GLORIOUS THING!’ It’s not quitting if you’re finished with something. It’s just moving on to the next bit of the story. Saying that…
Fire is there for a reason. Don’t extinguish it unless it’s already gone out, in which case, angle the wick towards somewhere else and reignite it. It doesn’t matter WHAT you’re passionate about, as long as you ARE passionate about SOMETHING. As long as the fire still burns, fan it. Fan the shit out of it.
Your twenties can seem like a bloody scary place. I’m experiencing a ‘post-uni-scary-on-my-own-ohhh-shit-I’m-not-doing-as-well-as-I’d-hoped’ thing, and I suspect lots of my pals are too. It’s something that people don’t often admit or talk about, mainly because it’s fucking terrifying. Believe me, I KNOW. But hey, I’VE GOT AN IDEA. Let’s just stick together, support each other, celebrate the success and toast the bits that aren’t so much, and we’ll put those bits down to tell as a hilarious anecdote on Graham Norton when we’ve made it.
I think we can do it. Let’s dream big, shall we guys? Now, let’s go and do something awesome.