Let's Catch Up

Let's Catch Up
Let's Catch Up

Latest Adventure's

Latest Adventure's
Latest Adventures

My Work

My Work
My Work

Do I Show Off Enough?

The other week I met up with a friend I don’t see often enough socially, but do occasionally bump into through various work events. Not a lot of my friends actually work in the arts, even fewer of them are people I originally met at uni. This friend knows my work in theatre PRETTY DARN WELL. He actually helped a lot with the making of one of my solo shows and, not only that, but like me he also works on and off the stage.

He’s an incredibly talented guy. Some one I professionally really admire. He has this fantastic work ethic and is really well respected. He probably doesn’t know this - but in a lot of ways I find him or his CV quite intimidating. So imagine how refreshing it was to catch up with him and find that we have a lot of the same BIG questions rattling through our minds. 

Anyone of those questions could be a blog pos in it’s own right - so I won’t list them all off, instead today I want to focus on just the one… Do I show off enough?

My Anxiety Is A Boggart

Like a lot of people, I suffer from anxiety.

I don't like to use the word suffer really. Suffer sounds to me like it's something I put up with. Like sometimes I suffer from a bad hip, which is an irritation I can get on with. It also sounds too definitive and neat. It doesn't leave much room for the different levels, shapes and sizes anxiety comes in.

Anxiety changes from person to person. It's one of the things that makes it so hard to define, and like with many mental health issues, probably one of the reasons so many people resist getting help with it. 'Oh but my anxiety isn't as bad as...'

And my anxiety isn't as bad as a lot of peoples. But it's there, and it's something I've come to accept and recognise. I'm not ashamed to admit it, and it's not something I want to define me. Currently, at this point in my life, I can treat my anxiety like a food allergy. Most days it has no effect on my life, some days I have to do my best to avoid things that trigger it, and other days I have a reaction that I can't for the life of me figure what set it off.

It's that final stage I want to talk about today. When my anxiety flares up and I long for some kind of magical epi-pen... or wand. 

Why I'm Not "Lucky" To Work In The Arts

I work in a field that not many people get to succeed in. Full time, full paid jobs are far and few between, and the wages are minimal. It's a field you pursue because you're passionate about it because you can't imagine yourself doing anything else in, it's not a field you pursue because of the pay cheque. And it certainly isn't a career you choose because it's easy... despite what many people will have told you when you were deliberating over whether or not to take drama at GCSE.

Because of all these factors, I am grateful to have my job. I am grateful to have found a place of employment I love and one that supports me. I am grateful to have been born into a life that came with a certain amount of privilege that meant I could go to university and follow my passion, when so many people in this country, and across the world do not have that option. And I am grateful to myself for all the hard work I put in to get here.

And I will admit there are days where I can't believe this is what I get to do for a living. But when somebody tells me 'aren't I lucky to have this job' it just doesn't sit right with me.

Because put simply  - loving your job does not take away how hard you worked to get there.

I didn't enter some kind of job lottery and pull the winning numbers. I started working for this when I was nine. Sure back then I had no idea that spending my weekends rehearsing for a play with a bunch of university students would lead to a career in the arts but in a lot of ways it did. In fact, the only thing about my career I put down to luck is stumbling on something I was so passionate about at such a young age. Everything after that? Was me putting in the hours.

Me giving up two nights and my weekends as a teenager to rehearse for the community panto.
Me choosing to work hard at A Level so that I could prove taking Theatre Studies was worthwhile.
Me getting into a great university and passing my degree.
Me volunteering and gaining work experience whenever I could.
Me working several jobs and an internship at the same time after graduation.
Me working on minimum wage for years while work in the arts dripped in.
Me refusing to give up when everyone and everything seemed to think I should.

And now more than ever, doing a job I love, means working hard. Really really hard.

I have had one full weekend off since the end of August. I wake up in the middle of the night with creative ideas for workshops or fears that nobody will buy tickets to an event. I stand in the middle of Lancashire towns when it's cold and wet and speak to hundreds of people about ART. I run workshops with teenagers who spend most of their time making fun of the way I laugh hoping that I make a difference to one of them. I answer work emails at night because that's the best time to get hold of an artist or arrange meetings with volunteers outside normal working hours. I live with the knowledge that funding for my job could run out within 6 months. And while I love my job, there are compromises and sacrifices that I have to make. Because guess what? The Arts? Don't come with a huge paycheck. So I work a full time and take on freelance work too so that I can live the life I want and do the job I want.

I'm not saying this to toot my own horn or to elicit any type of sympathy. I'm just stating the facts. Because I wish I knew more about how hard other people work and I CERTAINLY wish I knew more about the work behind the title when at 21 I was trying to figure out which jobs to apply for.

There are things in life we are lucky to have. I think the more of us that recognise and admit any privileges that fall upon us, the more we can do to make sure we share that luck around. But the majority of good things in life don't happen by chance and it is important to acknowledge that too.

So I'm not lucky to have a job in the arts, none of us are. But I am grateful for it, and the many many factors that contributed to me being where I am in life now, every single day x

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