Okay, it’s that time of year again.
Time to revamp my whole life and finally get things in order.
Last January, I launched a three-pronged approach for success that involved Dry January, Bullet Journaling, and gyming. While I did manage to maintain these resolutions (besides February thru December being pretty wet), and while I think they have helped to organise me a bit, I need even more from myself this year.
Bigger! Better! Totally unrealistic and un-achievable!
But really, something HAS to change–like really change–in 2018. I cannot die at this desk like Mrs Blankenship.
Any little change I make won’t matter if I am still in the same unfulfilled place in my (non)career. And it’s not just about me. Not having purpose, drive, and meaning makes me way less cool to be around. I bet B misses the old me.
So what can I do?
I. Don’t. Know.
I really don’t know. And, unfortunately for you guys, I really need to talk it out here. (I have a feeling this might get a bit epic, so I’ve enlisted Mad Men to help me lighten the mood.)
The virgo in me is really struggling to deal with the fact that, no matter how many times I sit down to make a plan of action, I can’t come up with anything concrete. I want to be able to map out, pen to paper, in words and colours, what exactly I need to do to change my life. But I can’t.
Then I begin to panic.
I think about going back to the office where weeks slip away faster and faster counting down to weekends just because it’s the thing to do. And it feels like this inescapable cycle in which I can’t think, I can’t restfully think and come up with a plan. And the less I do, the worse my agoraphobia gets–and my fears now stand before me seeming actually insurmountable.
Who is this person that I have become?
And what exactly is it that I even want anymore?
I had the opportunity this past year to see Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in Pinter’s No Man’s Land on the West End. (The formidable/hilarious/super kind Jamie Hyder was in town on a press junket and she rather generously treated her former acting colleague [me] to a night at the theatre.) The performances were awesome, and it was a thrill being only three rows away from two absolute legends–but I was mostly struck that evening by what a wonderful gift it is to be an actor. A youth-giving gift. A purpose-giving gift.
Here were two nearly 80 year-old men who were doing exceptional physical and mental work. There was a moment in Patrick Stewart’s performance where he was crawling across the floor, and I just marvelled at the agility (some of) our bodies are able to maintain if we want them to. Eight performances a week. Pages and pages of monologuing to memorise.
Jamie and the other LA actor who was with us were intrigued by the fact that these older, successful film stars would bother doing such a difficult (and relatively un-lucrative) job at this point in their careers. But I thought OF COURSE! Of course they would! This is what it is about! Being 80 years old and performing Pinter in thrilling LIVE THEATRE! Life giving.
THAT is what I want. That purpose. That purpose to keep my mind and body clear and able. That purpose that has helped me so well in the past. To not stay out partying at prom in high school because I had an audition the next morning for one of my first professional roles (and I got the part!). Gosh, to miss many social things of my youth–football games etc–because I was preserving myself, my voice, for my upcoming performance. I made enormous sacrifices for my art that were way beyond my years, but they didn’t at all seem like sacrifices because I understood what was important to me and what brought me happiness.
THAT, I want that back.
You know what else I want back? Not minding so much about people being shitty to me… and not minding because I have confidence in my future success. I’ve always had haters. Always. Always have, always will. I am, actually, extremely shy, but because of my appearance and the things I enjoy doing that don’t seem shy (performing), my shyness is often assumed bitchiness. I didn’t mind so much before because I was able to focus on my vocation and purpose.
Those who know me know that I am really sensitive, that I suffer from depression and anxiety, that I live to entertain and make people laugh, and, hopefully, that I am actually a very compassionate person. These qualities help me to be a good actress, but without that expressive outlet and confidence, they can cause me pain and floundering. People being shitty to me on top of that = certain unpleasantness.
Okay, so basically, I want to resolve to be me again?
This is a tall order–can I break it down into achievable parts? Or determine the things that are preventing me from being me?
Obviously, at the forefront of all things problematic is my job. I spend 12 hours a day, 5 days a week away from home not doing something that is promoting my happiness or promising anything for my future. There’s no upward mobility, and the role I play day after day has nothing to do with my talents or skills. (‘Ali, I need your IT expertise again’ — I AM LEGIT BAD AT COMPUTERS, PEOPLE, I’m just not RIDICULOUS and also know how to use Google and COMMON SENSE.)
Unfortunately, I am not in a financial position where I can quit, and we all know how successful my attempts at finding another job were last year! (And to be honest, I’m not going to be happy in any office environment where I have an unchanging schedule and no freedom to make one day different from the next and no chance of ever meeting anyone.)
I’ve been toying with the idea of asking if I can go down to 4 days a week. They still pay me hourly, so I wouldn’t have to renegotiate a contract or anything–just, not get paid for that one day. Like, maybe if I had Wednesdays off, I could mentally cope better knowing I just had to get through 2 day stints at a time.
The cons, of course, are that I’m already not making enough money at 5 days a week… and also I am terrified by the prospect of broaching the subject with my managers.
What do you think? I feel like this might lessen some of the desperation I feel and help me to ween away from the weekly vortex hell-cycle?
Or should I try to get some sort of retail-ish job/go back to the pub to integrate myself into the local community more? And put yet another weird blight on my CV?
I really don’t know what to do about this.
I deffo self medicate with wine.
It calms me down and helps me to face some of those aforementioned fears… or at least forget about them for an evening. But that’s not great. I need to confront these problems without my delicious little crutch if I’m actually going to conquer them.
So I’m gonna do Dry/Moderate January again and try to carry it a little further into the year than I did last year. This goes hand in hand with gyming and being healthier in general.
It should be easier this year because…
A couple months ago, I decided to stop sitting around bemoaning the fact that I know no one in London or how to break back into the theatrical community. Okay, that’s a lie, I’ve definitely continued to moan… but while I was whinging, I also finally attempted to do something about the problem and, with a loan and partial gift from B, signed up for a Shakespeare course at RCSSD.
The course is 2 evenings a week for 8 weeks, starting in January.
I was thrilled about the prospect of these classes when I first signed up, but now as commencement nears, the gremlins of fear have obviously started to rear their ugly heads. Is it going to come back to me? What if I can’t act anymore? Am I too wine-addled and broken to memorise lines?!
But hopefully it will be good.
Hopefully with some purpose built into my week, I will regain the stamina I once had and not feel so exhausted and ill all the time. Hopefully I will maybe meet some people. Hopefully I will be able to feel a little bit good about myself again.
I guess what I’m really resolving to do, then, is face my fears in 2018. Put myself back out there. Get out from behind the computer and perform my music live. Meet people and act like I’m confident until I actually am confident again.
And to do this, I’m going to give up work, wine, and whinging. Well, not entirely give up work, sadly… just find a way to lessen my non-artistic work commitment.
Is this a plan? Could I break it down into even smaller steps? It continues to feel nebulous and wishy-washy. But I guess that’s life? A nebulous wish-wash? Are you still reading? Are you still out there? Any advice? Wait! Come back!
Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest, even if you are suffering over the boring agony of my New Year’s Resolutions, fingers hovering over the ‘unfollow’ button.
WHAT ARE YOUR RESOLUTIONS???? Please share your hopes and fears with me in the comments!
I’m hoping for love, success, and humour for you and yours in 2018.
Happy New Year!