‘I want to do everything I can, I want to be an actress, a writer, maybe even a fashion designer’. ‘You can’t, it’s just not the done thing, people will think you’re too unreliable if you have too many jobs.’ ‘Why?’
Two things to begin this post, firstly, the above is a snippet of a conversation with a school-friend on our way home from school one day. Looking back, I think it says more about what my friend was dealing with internally, than me, but I really wasn’t all that aware of my surroundings and energy back then. I was living in the moment, head in the clouds, in my own mind fortress of fantasy land. The second thing, I don’t know why I ever stopped asking, why.
When I was a girl, I was happy. My childhood wasn’t really about what I wanted to be when I grew up, because my mom and dad worked hard to create a world for us, my brother & I were blessed to live entirely in a world of our own, with my folks. We moved a lot. There was never really much room for anyone else, because our adventures were together. I’ll always be grateful for my childhood, because it was full of love, hope & happiness.
I’m not discussing childhood today, no I’m altogether looking at the boundaries we are told to live by as we evolve into adults. The milestones we are told to achieve, the way in which we should live our lives. And mostly I’m here to tell you, that if you live the nuclear family life, that’s fine, but if you want to live to your own set of boundaries too, that is also, totally fine. I wasn’t planning for the perfect future, because I had no perception of what perfect looked like.
As a girl, I only had my parents really to learn from. They were happily married, it wasn’t always easy, they didn’t always have money, but they worked hard and made it good so that my brother and I could live a good life. They told us about the bad things in life, and that we could always tell them, we would always have their support, and I’m telling you now, they weren’t lying.
Both my mom and my dad have been my rocks in my life. When all I could do was turn up, face red from crying, uttering the words why, they were there.
So my childhood was happy, I thought I’d grow up, fall in love, get married and live my own life, but nothing really more specific than that as a young kid.
When I did begin to wonder what I may want to do when I grew up, my mom always said that what I did wasn’t the thing that mattered, it was whether it made me happy that did.
I thought being an astronaut would be incredible, but there was no space program in England and my dad had to go to America to pursue his interests in the study of space, so my mind wandered to other places. I thought if I were an actress, that I would be loved, I would be able to travel the world over, I’d have tons of friends, I’d get to play cool parts. I think that was all the convincing I needed at around seven.
I used to think my mom was being so mean not helping me to get an agent as a kid, why. As an adult who has been able to live a private life making her mistakes away from the eyes of the world, I could not be more grateful to my mom for protecting me, for helping me to forge my own path.
So no, my folks never made it important to figure out what the one thing I would do was, just to find the things that made me happy and do them.
The career counsellor in my high school sure thought that it mattered to find the one achievable thing though. ‘I’d like to be an astronaut’. ‘That’s ridiculous’, ‘why’, ‘you need to pick something more realistic’. ‘Okay, I’d like to be an actress’, ‘no, look that’s so rare, you’d be wasting your time, I’ll give you these sheets, because they’re industry related, Journalist, Editor, Engineer’. ‘okay thanks, I’ll take a look’.
The conversation didn’t stop me wanting to be an actress, it sure made me want to speak to the career counsellor less, but reading those career descriptions did widen my mind to other possibilities. The next week, I returned for the second career session, ‘I think I’d like to be a travel journalist’, ‘sure, I mean it’s better than actress, you’ll need to study English Literature and Media’, ‘thank you, great!’
I then spent my senior high school years planning what I’d study, where I’d go to college, although the career in the background was still fairly vague. I still didn’t really understand why I couldn’t train to be an actress, or study to work for NASA.
Why I couldn’t be an explorer, lecturer, or the being behind a fashion house. Was it really too much to think I could train, then train again?
Surely it was good to get lots of life experience, isn’t that what life is about? It sure was to me.
But somewhere between that 16 year old girl with a head full of dreams, and the 32 year old woman typing this, I stopped asking why. I stopped chasing my dreams.
Or did I?
The thing is, I’ve experienced so much more of life since I was 16, I mean hell, I’ve lived that long again and that’s only got me to here. I’m still young, I’ve still got another 30 years of potential career time and even more hopefully of life time. It’s just that the intentions I had at 16 have changed somewhat.
I no longer wonder what my first kiss will be like, I don’t wonder what band are playing at the skate park at the weekend or if my crush will be there. I don’t wonder what it’ll feel like to step off the plane in California and chase my dreams.
Because now, I remember what that felt like, what seeing the Hollywood sign in person the first time felt like, driving down route one with the hills on one side, the Pacific ocean on the other. Just as I remember those bands, telling my crush I didn’t want to waste my time with his unknowing, knowing myself enough to know I was feeling too many things to know what I wanted in that moment, but knowing it shouldn’t feel like dread, so it probably wasn’t going to work between us. I remember my first kiss. (Actually, it was awful. But it made the second first kiss…well, a little less awful.)
Because actually sometimes you’re aware you’re living and other times life happens around you. These days I try to live more in the moment & take in each thing, each moment. The only regret I really have, is that I worried a lot about what the future held, so I try to do that less, or at least I did before the pandemic hit. Even so, my life is good and I know come what may, I’ll find my way.
Ultimately though, I’m an entirely different human (almost) to that girl I was at 16.
Just as I am different now to the woman I will be at 40. It’s okay for my dreams to have evolved, to not live by the narrative that we are taught from so young in society that we should live by.
You probably thought this post was career flavored, but that’s because since the age of seven, the question I’ve been asked most, is ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’
I agree with John Lennon on this one, although while Lennon opted for happy, I opt for peaceful. I want to feel at peace when I grow up. I love my career, my professional life challenges and excites me in all the ways I’d hope it would. But that’s not what defines me. It’s who I am and what I do with the rest of my time that defines me. So no, this isn’t a careers talk, it’s a life lesson.
There are some things on that list that have changed, there are things that have evolved, but also there are some that I feel I didn’t give the time to, way back then.
So among the daily balance of career and personal life, I found during the last lockdown that something elusive was stopping me from feeling at peace in myself. So I switched off and I listened hard. Actually, when I listened, it turned out that even the silence was loud.
I wanted to study fashion. And that pals, is really what led me to here, because I signed up for the course, did the first week, then found myself suddenly asking myself some huge life questions. But no, just because I wanted to take a course unrelated to my career didn’t mean that deep down I needed to re-align my whole life, it’s just that I wanted something just for me.
Sometimes, you can write the intentions, make the list, take the step and still not feel the connection to where it fits or how it’s becoming part of your journey.
It didn’t need any greater meaning, couldn’t it just be that I liked studying and fashion interests me? That’s when I realized that I could still follow some teenage dreams, while continuing my adult path and some things it was okay to say goodbye to and close that chapter of my life to.
Except, it wasn’t just the dancing, it was weeks of agonizing procrastinating and questioning just about everything in every day. So, alongside the dancing, I decided to take to journaling, I begun writing mantra’s and that helped; so I’m sharing the mantra’s that I lived by, here, because I reckon I’m not the only human feeling these things, learning these lessons in the curve of life. So throw out the mantras and boundaries set by society, and re-write the rulebook. If you don’t have the energy yet to write your own, here are the ones that helped me on my journey.
It is okay if your dreams and path in life change direction. Life will never go as you plan, the best thing you can do, is plan as though you will live forever, live each day as though it’s your last and remember that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you respond to it. If your plans have changed in the last decade, that is okay, it’s natural to evolve. It’s okay if you’ve been happy where you are for the last decade too, as long as you feel at peace.
If you aren’t enough without the thing you seek, you will never be enough with it, this is important. It applies to just about everything in this life too. You need to get to know yourself, love yourself, or at least be on that journey before you start building the foundations of forever.
Set the intention. It’s okay to dream big, in fact I recommend it. But to leap from today to there, you need to make measurable, achievable steps, and be willing to compromise. I wanted a career and time for my own creative pursuits, that meant both needed some compromise to fit into the time I reasonably have in each day and my lifetime, but I am finding the formula that fits for my life. Make the list then narrow it down, eventually you’ll begin to see the path from today to there, the dream.
Every bad day will end. Some bad days stick with you. I suffered a terrible trauma. I’m not the girl I was before that day and on some level I think I knew it, before it happened. I learned to re-build my life around that trauma. Some days, thankfully are just a day long and although bad, they will pass. It’s especially important in these times to tune into yourself. It’s definitely okay to talk about the things you’ve experienced. Just trust the people you open up to, in my experience people have used my trauma to hurt the ones I love most. It is never okay, for your actions to harm another, or yourself. If your bad day is taking it’s toll, if your life feels dark, please reach out to Samaritans here. I have in days passed. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, in asking for help. In fact, it takes real strength.
Enjoy the moment. I could write a whole post on this, I might just do that. For the moment, just take a minute, have you looked around you, is it cloudy outside, are the stars shining? Did you enjoy your cup of tea, did you take in the details of the loved ones around you? The way their eyes brighten when they are talking about the thing that lights them up, did you see your pets excitement when you walked into the room? Take those little things in, they really are the magic of the story.
What did I want at 16? What do I dream of at 32? With the mantras in mind, I was able to begin looking back and taking into account what I dream of in the present moment too. I was curious to see what I dreamed at 16 and how that differed to what life dreams looked like at 32. Which were the same, but ultimately that I didn’t feel bad about the things I thought I ‘should’ have done by now, but more felt inspired to follow some of them up.
There’s a life that happened between those two lists. From the trips to California, to the Journalism studies.
The first leading role on stage at sixteen, to learning to act for screen & filming indie films.
The falling in and out of love, the crushes, the flings and all the dates between.
The music blog, touring and heartache of it all. To first apartments, houses to the yurts and vans that I called home.
To all the chapters and moments still to come, this really has been one hell of a journey so far. This journal series is my way of sharing my extraordinary ordinary life & sharing my curiosity journey as I make my intentions, a reality.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking around. I’ll be back with more journal edits in time.
Live long & prosper, my human pals.