“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Making peace with keeping your passion a side-gig
Acting, Writing and Motherhood
A Word on Day Jobs
A Perfectly Imperfect Life
It’s been a while. I never like beginning a blog post with such statements, but I might as well tell it like it is and state how I currently feel, which is AWFUL for not having posted on the blog in so long. This has been the norm over the last few months, a sort of post-when-I-can-meaning-hardly-ever type situation. I don’t like it. I’ve written about it in a previous post, how the feeling of what-am-I-not-doing-that-I-should-be-doing niggles away at you until one day, generally after about a month to six weeks, you sit yourself down in the spur of the moment and just post whatever jibber jabber comes pouring out. The kind you’re currently reading. I’m trying not to be too precious about my words, just to let them flow and trust there’s value in there somewhere. Everyone knows perfectionism is creativity’s silent killer and greatest threat, up there with self-doubt and overthinking.
I’ve made lists of blog posts I intend to write, people I hope to interview, stories I’d love to share. None of it manifests. But I like the fact that in the past, I’ve felt inspired enough to make said lists. There’s a lot of hope in those lists. A lot of curiosity and ambition and general enthusiasm for life. The lists make me look driven and hungry. Lists that so often go ignored, because I’m too busy being busy, and at the end of a long day, hungry for nothing but actual food.
I’ve struggled quite a bit over the last few months, trying to balance motherhood, with a part-time job, with pursuing what makes my little heart sing. (Writing, to be clear, writing makes my heart sing. Writing and art and performing, but one thing at a time).
I’ve wrestled with intrusive thoughts like: “If you don’t get to pursue your passion in your twenties, living under your parents’ roof, then when exactly will you?” and “When are you going to come up with a clear vision, a well-thought out plan?!” and “What about the money aspect? You can’t stay in this job forever, how are you going to make money doing what you love?”
MUST MAKE MONEY DOING WHAT YOU LOVE…
Which of course isn’t true.
Lots of people lead perfectly happy, colourful and fulfilling lives doing one thing for money (otherwise known as a day-job) and their true joy, their true love, on the side.
Passions are squeezed in there. Choir in the evenings, watercolour classes on a Saturday, a writing retreat over the Summer. I’ve been reading up on people’s experiences getting up at 5am, before the rest of the house, to write and meditate. It doesn’t seem like the norm but many do it, and swear by it.
You find a way, you make the time, you do what you need to do.
There’s a lot of pressure to find your calling and make “what you love” your career, but actually attaching money to something can often make it seem a chore, complicate things and just add to the headache. Sometimes it is better to keep your passion your passion. And make peace with any “what could have beens”.
I’ve learnt this with acting, because although I’d love to pursue it as a career, get an agent, move to London, get my bum to auditions; I love being a Mum more. It wasn’t logistically possible to do both and I felt I was striving against the flow of life. Which goes against everything I’ve ever learnt in all those self-help books I devour. Mainly: know your priorities, and live by them. You can do it all, but not at the same time.
I know what matters more to me, and it will always be time with my daughter. I don’t want to miss a thing. Literally.
Performing makes me feel alive, I love being on stage, but nothing compares to raising Maia.
I’ve had a lot of magic in my life over the last few years, from my little monkey to adventures in the world of theatre and I’m aware of what a lucky little Miss I am to be able to sit here and comment on such things. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that you have to be a pretty fortunate human to be a part of either world, Acting or Motherhood, so to have your feet dipped in both makes you practically a unicorn. A very #blessed unicorn.
Unicorn or not, I always come back to my words, to writing. It nourishes my soul, clears the cobwebs from my head and gives some form of order to a very consistent, very loud and often rather over-bearing daily flurry of thoughts. I need writing like we all need food, without it I’d starve. (Or get so full-up with thoughts I just explode onto people (friends and family that I know can take it) with big emotional monologues on how I don’t know what I’m doing or what the future holds and how scary I find it all). I’m a record on repeat.
I write because I don’t have a choice. And I quite like having that level of certainty about something. Makes a change from all the question marks.
As for those days jobs, well I certainly feel like I’m one of millions. Millions of people who didn’t plan to do what they do, can’t say they love it, but would agree there are aspects they find enjoyable. For me, like many, it’s the people. I love the social aspect of going in to work every day. It’s the small but often meaningful interactions, the connections formed with unexpected individuals over everything from clothes, to our children, to career trajectories. I love seeing how people light up when they talk about certain things. I’ve enjoyed simply getting to know people and confirming what I already knew about human nature; the age old paradox of; we are all the same and yet very very different. But we are all in the same boat at work, and it’s always fun rejoicing in certain shared feelings: “FUCK MONDAYS”, “YES there’s cake in the kitchen” and “God dammit it’s so sunny and we’re all stuck in here..”.
I’m always wanting things to be perfect. Perfectly structured days where I fit in exactly what I want and need to do, down to every hour (gym/meditation/writing/reading/ALL MOTHERING DUTIES..). And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There’ll always be little hiccups, and of course much bigger challenges. There’s no such thing as a perfect life, or a perfect day. (And that’s almost a comforting thought that allows me to breathe, and accept the messy and chaotic as part of being a human, on planet earth, in 2019). It always comes down to perspective, to what you choose to focus on.
And most of the time, I choose to focus on love. All the love in my life. Yes, it’s awfully cheesy but it’s also very true. I have some amazing people in my life, amazing relationships that keep me going when I lose that focus or start believing in the thoughts that say I’m not good enough, or that life isn’t going “the way it’s meant to”. People are not medicine, but they are necessary and important in times of struggle. Acceptance of what we cannot change is also necessary. Change what you can, make peace with what you can’t. Often it’s just a matter of time, of patience and persistence, and maintaining a healthy balance of the two. Life will always surprise us anyway. Things rarely work out the way we expect them to, often for the better.
So there’s the people-kind-of-love, and there’s my love of creating. I’m lucky enough to have experience of both.
I can only count my blessings, and think of all the women who aren’t as lucky, who will never be able to express themselves, or hone their talents, or have agency over their bodies. Mothers who will never be able to educate themselves or their children. Humans who will never have freedom, in any sense of the word.
I’m aware I’m touching on a topic far too vast to begin on in this post, but that I always come to, because it’s the only line of thought that brings some perspective to the “Oh I feel so overwhelmed balancing my life!” headache. It doesn’t make our problems any less real, but it does help us focus on gratitude.
Anyone reading this can be grateful, that our problems consist of time-management, high-sugar diets, and balancing careers with motherhood, and not much much worse.
So sit with that gratitude, and presence, and love, and smile because you know your life is messy and imperfect, just like every body else’s.
Right I feel I have preached enough this afternoon.
I have significantly cleared the cobwebs in my head and reminded myself of all necessary points of wisdom and positivity.
If you’ve reached this far, you are a very special person and my big old heart goes out to you.
Happy Easter Weekend All.