As September rolls around it often means the start of new adventures for us youngsters. I am no exception, and as I go back to university for my masters, I find myself in a reflective mood. Quite often in our lives we find ourselves lost or at a crossroads. As a child my dream job was to be a farmer’s wife, but growing up in a large city I soon changed my mind. Then at secondary school I found drama was an actual lesson and, even more crazily, people did it as a job – bonkers! So from age 11 I was set on what I wanted to do: everything in my life was now aimed at making me a famous movie actress. Yes, I wanted fame over ability; the upside was that as a teenager I did have talent.
Like on shows such as X Factor, there comes that gut wrenching moment when someone tells you are not good enough – for me it was being turned down for drama school. I was told that many people didn’t get in on their first attempt and they often only accepted people who were older (I was 17 at the time of auditioning) but I heard none of it. It didn’t kill me stone dead as a performer but it did stop me trying – if I didn’t push for it then I couldn’t get hurt, right? So I went to get a degree in musical theatre. I think I frustrated my teachers there; they could see talent but I daren’t stretch myself to actually be good. However, this raised the question: what should I do with my life now?
They say retrospect is a marvellous thing, and it is. During my second year I felt truly lost; I no longer wanted to be in the spotlight but had yet to find a replacement. I couldn’t sever my ties with theatre completely because I still lived and breathed it. In the end all it took was one module where we had to pick a famous musical theatre creative and say why they were an innovator. This was the first time I discovered research and found I was good at honing in on important facts. It was amazing to find this whole other area that I had never even contemplated – an area where I initially thought, I’m not intelligent enough to do this, am I? By third year I had started to despise being on stage more and more, so that by our final show I was purposely hiding at the back, which is not hard to do at five foot tall (apologies to the director if you read this) – so it was great to have found new positives.
Now I am the happiest I have ever been and writing a bi-monthly blog that I never thought I was clever enough to do. When you are having doubts it’s great to not feel alone – as Broadway Girl explains in her blog, “tweeting and writing about theatre has brought me back into the community I lost when I was in college.” I may not be the performer my child-self wanted, but I have found so many other areas within theatre to channel my abilities into, which feels pretty amazing and made all that doubting seem worthwhile. So to everyone continuing their education or entering the world of work, bon chance and a big break-a-leg from me.
Image credit: Jose Carlos Norte.