The room spins in a champagne-fuelled blur, party poppers explode in a shower of colour and, as Big Ben begins to boom out on the telly, some clever sod says “So, what’s your New Year’s Resolution?” December 31st feels like such a long time ago. We’re six months down the line and I’m wondering who’s kept to their resolution and who’s already forgotten as the middle of the year sweeps past in a flurry of drizzle and momentary sunshine.
To be honest I’ve never really made that many resolutions and I’ve always held my hands up each New Year and declared with the rest that, no, I didn’t keep to last year’s and can’t actually remember what it was. Well, this year is a little different. OK, I started a bit late and only decided mid-January, but I did it: I decided that this year I was going to cut the excuses, let go of the worries and just make it my year. Six months on and I’ve made a little extra effort to make that promise stick and I think it’s a good time to review. For one thing, I’m finding it’s already been an unexpectedly busy year with many surprises good and bad. For another, a reminder will give me a good kick up the backside and make sure I don’t fall off the wagon.
Since making my resolution, a whole host of opportunities have presented themselves – or perhaps they were always there and I was just too busy worrying to notice them. I’ve taken a fair few of them, from starting this blog, getting stuck in with various local networking events and planting the seeds for new collaborations, to taking an active role in the arts through attending Equity and local council meetings, as well as making a stand with Theatre Uncut (my particular favourite so far). I’ve also been pushing some of my own personal boundaries and my confidence has soared, bringing fresh horizons with it. Looking through my diary I’ve achieved an surprising amount in a short space of time and all because I decided not to let doubts get in the way and to be more proactive.
Each opportunity has led to something else at one stage or another, some having an immediate knock-on effect and others laying the foundations for later developments. For now though I’m feeling as though the momentum has slowed down. I’m tempted to say it’s because my day job has become a lot more demanding and left little room for anything else, but while it is taking up an awful lot of time at the moment I can’t let it become an excuse to lose focus. I can already feel some of my old anxieties creeping up again and I find myself worrying about what I should be doing, where I should be going and what will happen if I take a risk or make the wrong choice. Instead of making decisions I’m sitting staring at them like a rabbit caught in headlights because I don’t know which way to turn. Hence the timely reminder of what I can achieve when I just relax and enjoy the fact that I have options.
Of course I know it’s not about just closing your eyes and blindly jumping into the first thing that comes along; some opportunities just aren’t feasible or if they are they’re at a cost. But allowing yourself to explore other directions doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to jeopardise your main aim. For example, taking a directing or producing opportunity doesn’t stop me being an actress. In fact it opens up new conversations, introduces me to new people and broadens my creative outlook and capabilities. Taking new steps just requires a little fearlessness and faith that you will land on your feet one way or another. If you like to be 100% sure of things first you shouldn’t really be in the theatre business! Or perhaps you would make a very good stage manager. There often just isn’t time to hesitate.
Just writing this has made me take a good look at what I’ve managed so far and has given me the courage to take a few more exciting leaps of faith. Occasionally taking stock of things can help you relax and remove unnecessary obstacles. Maybe it’s like a flu jab: you just need a top-up periodically to keep you ticking over, especially during those cold patches when things feel a little gloomy. So take a look at your resolution, or make one now (it’s never too late!) and see how far you’ve come. You never know what new heights it might push you to.