Tag Archives: choices

Turning Points

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Hello, lovely reader.  I hope that the world is treating you exceptionally well today.

After a brilliant (but very tiring) month at the Fringe directing Tumbling After, I have now safely returned to the wilds of North London.  At the end of August, when the shows started to wrap up and the suitcases started to drag their exhausted owners towards the station, my team and I found ourselves having a typical end-of-the-Fringe conversation:

“Oh my God, I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed.”
“I hate packing.  Where did all of our socks go?”
“Won’t it be weird not to go flyering every day?”
“Has Rob got, like, ALL of our socks in his room or something?”
“I can’t believe we got through so much Berocca.”
“Guys.  Seriously.  WHERE ARE OUR SOCKS?!”

What our festival-addled brains could not yet process was the fact that we had completed a mammoth task.  Achievement Unlocked: Did Really Well With A Fringe Show.  After months of hard work, early starts, bruising, caffeine and hysterical laughter, we were finished.  We got lots of nice reviews, many lovely audiences and a very fortuitous sponsorship deal from Arnicare.  We did flipping well.

Finishing something like a project, trip, job, or even a relationship is usually a turning point.  When something that we’ve built our lives around – however temporarily – comes to an end, we are forced to make decisions about what happens next.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and life change is the mother of difficult choices.

One of the biggest problems with turning points is that wherever we decide to turn next, we feel the loss of potential.  However amazing something is, once it’s over the excitement of possibility is gone.  I was very ready to come home from the Fringe this year.  I had a lovely time, but by the end of it I was tired and eager to get on with my ‘real’ life.  Now that I’m back, I am finding it weirdly depressing to think that something I worked on for seven months is finished.  Where did all that potential go?

Potential becomes reality.  Turning points are much more obvious in hindsight.  A month at the Fringe puts your liver through its paces.  These statements may all be perfectly true, but we also have to remember that you can treat any decision as a turning point.  Not in a scary, butterfly effect-esque way, but in an exciting one: any choice you make has the potential to give you a better reality.  Pushing yourself to go to the gym when you don’t feel like it makes you more disciplined.  Remembering to call a friend back makes you more reliable.  Giving up on approximately twenty missing socks makes you less materialistic (as the Tumbling After crew discovered the hard way).

Of course, we’ve all come home and remembered that ‘real’ life is just as busy, just as exciting and even more fascinating than the Edinburgh Fringe.  The potential of Tumbling After has been realised, and now we get to explore the potential of a bunch of other stuff.  Life is nice like that: when one thing ends, something else is probably about to kick off.  Exciting, no?

Have an anecdotally good day.

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Never Too Old to Feel Like a Disney Princess

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Hello, lovely reader!  I hope that the universe is treating you with kindly good humour today.

I turned twenty-six last week, and it’s been a bit of a surreal experience.  As someone who loves a bargain, I am already mourning the loss of discounts available to the 16-25 age group. (“You want me to pay MORE than £5 for a theatre ticket now?  WHAT KIND OF WORLD ARE WE LIVING IN?!”) Up until this point I have always thought of the ageing process in the same way that I regard the stock market: a baffling, abstract concept that will probably have an impact on my life at some point, but is essentially just a random number thingy.

I’ve only been twenty-six for a few days, but I already think that I’m going to be ok at it.  This is largely because my age may as well be a randomly generated number if my lifestyle, habits and friends are anything to go by.  Here is a list of reasons why your age is inconsequential:

1) Your sense of humour doesn’t really change.  For instance, I love the film Despicable Me, and if there ever comes a day when I don’t laugh at this moment, you have my permission to shoot me.  Funny is funny, no matter how old you are.

2) You will always, always be able to get into ridiculous situations.  I was waiting for a train the other day, and I got my earphones so badly tangled in my hair that I had to go to the station bathrooms and use a mirror to get myself sorted out.  Is that the smooth, sophisticated behaviour of a woman in her mid/late twenties?  Absolutely not.  But things like that will still be happening to us during our retirement, so it’s as well to accept them.

3) Your friends will never see you as your true age.  One of my favourite people on the planet is getting married in a few weeks, and it seems bizarre to me that she is anything other than a twenty-one year-old drama student who enjoys impersonating velociraptors.  (I mean, she still enjoys impersonating velociraptors…but she’s also taking a huge step into adulthood, which is awesome but weird.)  As you get older your friends start to do things that make you even more proud of them, such as relationship commitments and career moves, and you celebrate those with them.  You wouldn’t turn up to your friend’s engagement party and mock them for being elderly, would you?  Precisely.  Age is not important, but life choices are.

4) Speaking of life choices, I would like to address this whole “if you don’t know what you’re doing with your life by the time you hit twenty then you have already failed” myth.  No matter how old you are, you have to make decisions about yourself and your life based on what is going to make you happy and/or be good for you.  If you still don’t know what you want to do when you’ve been out of university for six months or even six years, you are not a freak.  You are totally normal, and you mustn’t panic.  Case in point: my dad is sixty and he just changed jobs, so what does that tell you?

5) When my dad changed jobs, he was delighted to discover that the dress code at his new office was casual.  He is now the proud owner of a pair of “basketball boots”.  This leads me neatly on to my next point: clothes that makes you happy.  As small children we delighted in Disney or superhero costumes; as teenagers we were ecstatic to wear more adult items like heels or suits (or both).  There comes a point in life when we seem to abandon our garment-based glee and exchange it for obligatory outfits: “I need a new dress for this wedding”, “I have to buy some proper work clothes”, etc.  We should enjoy our clothes no matter how old we are.  For example, as I write this I am sporting a very fetching pair of turquoise harem pants, and I feel like Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin.  I’m not even the slightest bit embarrassed by that.  In fact, I shall probably wear this very outfit to the pub tonight (although perhaps I should abandon the purple slipper socks).

I hope that you are happy in yourself no matter how old you are, and that you can see your future birthdays as opportunities to be proud of everything you’ve achieved.  Now, where is that handsome young man on a magic carpet?

Have a smashing day!

Sticking to Your (Metaphorical) Guns

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Good morning, lovely reader.  How is your weekend going so far?

As those of you who have read this post about me bullying a pepper pot will already know, I recently made a sweeping declaration about a particular aspect of my life, i.e. that if something hadn’t changed by a certain point in time, I would have to radically change my behaviour.  Without delving too far into the hows and the whys and the “do you mind if I don’t?”s (sorry – I can’t resist the opportunity to include a Blackadder reference), I will tell you that the deadline for something to change is today.  I now realise that I was being ludicrously optimistic about that time frame.  Radically changed behaviour, here I come.

When my house mate gave up smoking, she went completely cold turkey straight away.  I have rarely seen such impressive will power, especially given that she went to a snazzy industry party in Soho three nights later and could very easily have reneged on her decision.  She was out in central London with a lot of booze, a lot of smokers and some very famous actors, but she didn’t give in.  Amazing, isn’t it?  I know.  She’s a legend.

It is examples of self-control like that one which make me determined not to go back on my deadline thing.  It’s going to be painful and difficult.  I will probably change my mind about it in the next few days, hours or even minutes.  I feel incredibly sorry for my friends, who are going to have to put up with a lot from me for the next few weeks, but it has to be done.  This may have started with a sweeping declaration and an unfortunate condiment container, but I think we all know that when we try to make big decisions about our lives it’s because we recognise that something is wrong, and our job as human beings with a sense of self-preservation is to get the heck out.

Who knows what we are missing by pursuing things that are bad for us?  What kind of amazing stuff is happening that we don’t even know about because we’re too busy being addicted to a harmful substance, malingering in a dead end job or chasing after someone who doesn’t love us?  I can tell you for certain that you are a fascinating person with a lot to offer, and I hate to think of you wasting your time on something that is hurting you or holding you back.  Make the decision to stop what you’re doing, and then stick to your guns.  I cannot stress enough how utterly and completely metaphorical these guns should be (unless you’ve got water pistols, which are just cool).

Have the kind of Sunday that will make for a great anecdote tomorrow.

Red Dwarf Fixes Everything

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Hello, lovely reader.  I hope you’re having a beautiful weekend.

I had a wonderful evening yesterday with some of my favourite people on the planet, which I then went and ruined by drinking far too much and behaving like a prat.  I am now deep in the throes of PASH (Post-Alcohol Self-Hatred) and I woke up fairly convinced that everyone hates me and that I have utterly destroyed my own life.

Being the incredible and lovely human being that she is, my best friend gave me a massive cuddle as soon as I was properly awake and said all sorts of nice things that I definitely didn’t deserve to hear.  Our other friend was similarly lovely, and on the way home we had a very interesting conversation which I’d like to share with you.

When that whole “time to talk” thing came up a few months ago, I paid lip service to it.  So many friends of mine had the courage and dignity to speak about their mental health issues, and I was (and still am) incredibly proud of them.  I did not follow suit.  I should have, but I didn’t.  I was a wuss about it.

Mental health is a very tricky thing, because in so many people’s eyes (including your own, sometimes), it defines an enormous part of your identity.  It’s so easy to look at yourself in a purely one-dimensional fashion, and to focus on one big, bad thing about yourself.  Odds are that nobody else sees you that way, and that you are a lot less crazy in the eyes of your loved ones than you are in your own.

Ok, so here we go: I have manic depression.  It’s why I tend to overreact to stupid stuff and obsess over trivia.  It’s why I say dumbass things when I’m drunk (and also why I get drunk in the first place), and letting out the crazy when I’ve had a few glasses of wine means that I don’t have to remember it the next day.  That’s not an excuse, by the way: no one forces me to get drunk or behave like an eejit.  I make that (dreadful) decision entirely on my own.

Assuming I manage to sort my self out and stop making terrible choices, will I automatically like myself more?  I don’t really know.  On the way home my friend Vince and I were talking about how difficult it is to like yourself, and wondering whether it’s something that you can change.  Some people seem to be born assured, mature and self-aware, while others (i.e. me and some of my friends) spend a lot of time worrying about who we are and what on earth we think we’re doing.  Emotionally speaking, we are three million years into deep space and we’ve woken up with a traffic cone.

Essentially, it would be lovely to be emotionally self-sufficient and be able to comfort myself when I’m feeling low, but I’m not sure how to do that.  In the meantime, I’ve got an amazing group of friends who forgive me when I’m badly behaved, and cuddle me when I’m feeling guilty/hungover/completely lost.  I also have the Red Dwarf box set, which is a godsend on days like this.

I am very proud of my friends and loved ones who are open about their mental health issues, and I hope that they can forgive me for having been a coward about it.  If you live with metal health difficulties or love someone who does, then you are a wonderful human being who deserves first dibs on all the Quality Street tins from here to eternity.

Sorry this post was a bit more serious than t’others; I promise tomorrow’s will be full of whimsy.  Have a fantastic rest of your weekend.