My life has reached a point where everything's calming down for a bit (at least for the summer). I've moved into a new flat with my lovely boyfriend and year two of university has finished with pretty good grades. Old job left behind and a new job started, new company and better hours - feeling much better. For me, this point of the year has been very much waited for. The chance to relax? Yes, please. It's been a long year but at the same time it feels like it's flown by... No clue how that actually makes sense but I KNOW WHAT I MEAN, OKAY? Okay.
Several things have caught my attention in the last 12 months and I guess that's probably what this post will end up being about. Haha, I feel like some weird comment about it being about 'growing up' would probably be the most 'blogger-y' thing to do but in all honesty, I don't feel that much more 'grown up' than I did a year ago.
Family is so important. And you are too.
It's something that seems obvious - something you're taught from a young age to treasure and not take for granted. Most people that know me will remember that my family is not exactly the most straight forward (is anyone's really though?) and sometimes that makes life a bit difficult. You don't know where to put yourself, who to have loyalty to and what relationships you're supposed to have with certain people. This is something I really struggled with this year and at points it wasn't university that was stressing me out - it's what I had left behind at home. The stress could have been avoided if I had remembered one important thing - I am part of the family. Which means I'm important too. Yes, it's important to love your family and be loyal to them, but you also need to look after yourself. Compromising your own well-being in order to please what a family is 'supposed to be like' is not good for you and ultimately it's no good for those you care about. At least in the long term. If you're justifiably unhappy with something, telling the people it concerns will, 8 times out of 10, actually help. At one point this year I found going home from university really suffocating (something a lot of uni students feel after living away from home) and when I spoke to my parents about it, they recognised that I felt that way and I haven't felt that suffocation since. All it took was one conversation and it was sorted. If only I'd known sooner...
Admittedly it's not that easy for every person and certainly not for every situation. Sometimes you have to accept that people are the way they are and approach it differently. But the most important thing is that you are able to recognise it and consider your own feelings. Otherwise wires get crossed and things get angry and nobody wants that.
Something about family that has really been shown to me over the last year is how it stretches beyond the barriers of blood. When I've needed someone to talk to I've been able to call at least 4 people outside of my family who care about me as if we were related. That support has been crazy important to me. And it works the other way round too - being able to call those people to ask how they are and to be able to support them has been equally (if not more) important. The people who care for you are super significant.
Remember I said you were important? SO IS YOUR BRAIN.
Counselling is something I've avoided for years. I thought it was for messed up people with some sort of trauma in their lives and that going there would prove that I am 'messed up'. It's funny how we get these weird ideas into our heads, isn't it? Turns out counselling is for anyone. You don't need anything dramatic to have happened for it to help. I mean, I spent most of my time talking about trivial things that didn't seem to matter. My experience wasn't one filled with someone giving me advice, but more so with me just talking. Though the amount I talk, it's possible she didn't have a chance to talk herself... ANYWAY, outletting the things in my head, no matter how insignificant they seemed to be was a marvellous way of clearing it all up a bit. Sometimes counselling helps the organisation of your headspace rather than its utter ruin being scraped up by a human dust-pan and brush. I guess what I'm trying to say is that having an hour that's yours every week to talk about whatever is on your mind to a completely neutral person is helpful. You can get out of it whatever you want or need, or if you're like me and go into it without really knowing what you're doing there, you'll find some way it helps. It's probably been one of the best decisions I've made this year.
Moving on from professional support though, looking after your brain in everyday life is important too. I guess that one hour a week isn't reaaaaally enough for some reason. Sleep? Going to bed at 5am and getting up for a 9am lecture ain't gonna make you feel great. A whole week of takeaways might seem a great idea (I've done this too many times this year) but ultimately home cooked food is gonna feel so much better. Plus you save so much money! So. Much. *cries over low bank balance*
Since November 2015 I've kept a journal. It's a very pretty book which toooootally helps on the therapeutic side of things (or maybe its £20 price tag made me feel like I should actually use it...). It's not the cheesy, American:
"Dear Diary, Today I woke up and ate toast for breakfast.
Then Matilda called and told me about Mark and
OH MY GAWSH LAH DE DAH DE DAH".
In the few weeks since uni has been finished I've been a bit lost for what to do (I think that's pretty obvious since I actually thought to write on this blog...). Sarah sitting in watching TV all day is totally a plausible thing but IT DRIVES ME MAD. I literally get that bored stir-crazy thing the Sims get when you lock them in their house for days on end. Going for a coffee is the best way for me to get that out-of-the-house space I need to feel sane. And luckily one of my best friends is quite happy to accompany me to the late night cafe at last minute.
Even though I have a load of projects coming up at the end of the summer, there's not too much I can prep now so I'm still like "What do I do at home?!". With my boyfriend working shifts there's a lot of sitting around without company which is super useful when I'm at uni but noooooooo summer has thwarted all productiveness so now I have to find my own projects and things to do which is like, sort of long. And then when you decide on something you don't feel like doing it because productive = work = boringggg. Literally cannot win. What was I saying? Oh yeah - keep busy so your brain doesn't fry in front of the TV. But allow yourself some time to binge-watch a series on Netflix and play on the xbox too, because that's just nice. And nice is good in moderation. Just like doing stuff. Yeah? Glad you're still following.
Opportunities are GOLD.
In the second semester of year one I decided it was time to stop doubting myself all the damn time. I had spend most of uni so far second guessing myself, stepping back when I thought people were better than me. Going into 2016 I knew I had to bump up my confidence. In my own time I started going to the gym (though that only lasted 5 or so months). In classes at uni I started answering questions, volunteering to go first and really pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone.
One part of this led me to ask a guest lecturer at my university if he had any idea what I could do over summer to get some experience in theatre. I knew I had a summer coming up with no real need to get a job and that I still had no clue what I wanted to do once uni was over in two years time. He said he might be able to get me into a rehearsal room for a project he had going on. "YES!" I thought - Whether I was making tea for people or just watching from the sidelines at least I'd get to see a rehearsal in the real theatre world! A couple of weeks later this developed into me operating lights for said show. Then I was included in an email claiming I was to Assistant Direct the production. WHAAAAAT!? I asked one question and it blossomed like a tree that's...blossoming... yeah. I worked on that show which premiered in June. Through working on said show I met a wonderful designer with whom I worked on another two jobs, made lifelong contacts and started making a good reputation for myself. I also got a shed load of experience ADing, and operating lights, sound and projection. The production was put on at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in London WHO ASKED ME BACK. I worked for a month or so as their Trainee Venue Manager, showing companies into the space and helping them set up their tech and set whilst also working on box office bookings. EXPERIENCE. Boom. THEN the show we did in June had nabbed a spot at a festival in Barcelona so off I went to Barcelona in November! Over the university year I got involved with the technical side of things, helping out third years with their assessments and operating the lights for the second year shows. Again, helping my rep which has led to more people name dropping me and more work popping up. I'm now a regular lighting designer and operator for a fantastic community theatre company!
SO. Rather than this being me bragging about how my year was, I'm trying to make the point that by asking a question you can get SO MUCH. If I had never asked that first question last March, I would never have had the opportunities of last summer. I would have missed out on some brilliant projects and my CV would be rather bland. Having this much experience has enabled me to make a name for myself and it's so important to have the opportunities. Not to mention meeting some brilliant people along the way. So whatever you want to do in life, go get it now rather than waiting until you have a degree or all the jobs you want 'require experience'. If you ask, the worst thing thing they can say is 'no'. And how bad is that, really??
Learning new stuff makes life less boring.
It goes beyond books too. A couple of months ago I said I want to understand/learn to play football. Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way expecting myself to be GOOD at football, but understanding it and being able to play footy with my mates without constantly kicking the ball in the wrong direction would be nice. For the last couple of months my boyfriend and I have been popping to the park (very occasionally) to play football. I can confirm that I can now kick a ball in a straight line, 8 times out of 10 do some sort of drop kick and I can get the ball off the floor. These sound simple but for someone who has never played football before I am well proud of myself! I just have to practice a lot more. Like...a LOT more. But that's fine with me. The fact I can see some sort of improvement helps.
Something else I've learned? DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. It is something a majority of people greet with 'oh, THAT nerd game' without understanding what it actually is. What it is, right, is a game where you have to actually think and make decisions and something you can very much make what you want. Forget boring nerd stuff. It's fun. You can also play it in the pub which I think is a BIG bonus. I feel bad for judging it in the past now. It's proper good.
If you don't like something you don't have to do it.
I loved my previous job until little parts of it kept bugging me. The late nights weren't helping me feel particularly alert for my 9am lectures and working with such an array of customers, sometimes you'd just come home in a foul mood. In the end I realised how much my job was bugging me so I decided to look for a knew one. Now I have a job that sends me home at a decent time and is generally a bit more chilled. It's just something that's happened at the right time and a decision that's made me much happier.
As I said, it doesn't only relate to jobs. I've had a few altercations with people this year and the decision to leave them to it rather than biting back has made life so much easier. Don't like arguing and people putting you down? Then don't do it. Chilled attitudes win. Yus. Don't like not eating doughnuts? EAT THE DAMN DOUGHNUTS (unless otherwise directed by a medical professional...). Sort of relates to money too in a way... I didn't like not having money so I stopped spending it and started saving it and felt a bit more flexible once I'd built a bit of spare cash up. Basically, do what you want. Maybe not quitting your job full stop without a back up (though I understand how tempting that can be) or buying that 4K £1200 TV you want - understanding consequences is still a thing. But still. Don't bog yourself down with something that upsets you. Confront it. Change it. Deal with it.
That's it.My metaphorical bucket of rambling has been poured everywhere. The past 12 months has been pretty alright - mostly because of the company I've kept. My family and friends have MADE it good. See? Shows they're all important. Your year might suck without them.
I have no clue when I'll write on here again. I'll do my best to find some inspiration. Although I write on here so irregularly, I do actually enjoy doing it. I just need something to talk about. Nyah. WE SHALL SEEEEE. Thank you so much for reading - even after all this time. Any comments are welcome. Share-y like-y like-y things are also welcome.
DO YAH THANG.
And love each other. And make the most of the little things.
Much Love,Sarah x