I was in my mid-twenties when I realized that nothing and no one but I stop myself from doing what I want.
That may seem like a very strange thing to say, but it's quite true. I've had this habit for most of the past decade of blaming the world and circumstances (beyond my control, physical and emotional etc.) and I am very good at finding obstacles, or if they're not there - to create them and pretend they've been there all along. It takes practice, but it is possible to fool even your own mind if you put some conviction into it.
So when did I stop putting conviction into it?
During a live screening of Billy Elliot funnily enough. While waiting for the show to start I wrote this whole list of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to learn in life. Whether that be skills, languages, travel dreams or getting in touch with lost friends. A lot of those items are not new. They've been there all along. They've made many appearances on New Year's resolutions, promises and motivational posts hanging on walls over the years and yet they're still there. Black letters arranged into a certain pattern symbolizing something extraordinary, fun and intruiging. And in my mind so vastly out of range. Like stars in the sky.
But they're not stars in the sky, they're here on the ground, so why are they still there? At first I didn't want to admit it. I just said; there's no time, I'm too lazy, oh look at me procrastinating, isn't it fun? But truth is I might be a little scared in some cases and apprehensive in others. Scared of the space they'll leave on the list when I cross them off. Scared of failing to actually cross them off. Scared that it won't live up to expectations. Maybe a little apprehensive and intimidated by the person who would know all these things. Oh wait.. That'd be a future me. Huh... That's strange. And that's what I saw during that screening in London. I saw how much I want to get to know her. How excited I am that I will become her. Somehow. It's probably the grandness of that challenge and that journey that I fear. But I love journeys and I will love this one, no matter how much I'll curse it along the way.
So I started simple.
"We've never been friends, but now we're on the mend.
So be nice and forgive the sound.."
I bought a guitar many years ago, it has always beckoned from a corner of my room, asking me to play it. I finally started this year and as I play it I wondered why I haven't picked it up before now. Is it because I can't get a decent sound out of it on my first try? (Because, let's face it - who does?) Or is it because I never quite envisioned myself as a guitarist? Probably the latter but that's a stupid way of thinking about it. I love the sound of guitar, I love the music that hides behind a box with six strings.
Music is like writing. I play with words like I want to play with notes and chords. And the past four months have been a huge leap of faith when it's come to my own creations. Hearing my own words come alive on stage? Never thought it'd happen. Always dreamed of it, sure, but when it suddenly went from dream to reality I was more than a little scared. But nothing compares to that feeling, that moment when the words you dreamed up in some crazy midnight coma paint a world in the spotlight which captures the audience. I was soaring on clouds for days.
The official posters for my first two plays. (Design by: me)
I have recently found old work of mine, stories and novels etc. and I've read them cringing in horror. Truth is; I've learnt the craft of writing and there will most probably be a time in the future when I read what I've written now with the same kind of horror. That's what learning is. I just need to remind myself every so often. So I will be patient with myself and the guitar in my hands. I'm no Brian May, but I'm having so much fun! I've been asked by my friends if I only do it for my acting career. And I replied that I do it for the same reason that I bought a box called "Complete Italian" - for my own sake. Whether or not I'll be using these skills on stage or screen is beside the point. Exploring them, learning them, knowing them - they make me feel as creative and proactive as writing the next script or rehearsing lines for a new play. I always wanted to learn them, so why not? I ask my friends that when they say they dream to do x or y or learn to do z etc. And they never give a straight-forward answer.
"What's stopping you? That's right. Nothing."
Because there is no real reason. Sure, things will always be in the way. But remember that nothing is truly impossible - it's just more or less difficult. That's what my mum told me when I was 8 and I will always remember that. If you want to do something, do it. Don't let fear for mistakes ruin your opportunity to get to know the person you want to become. And yes, you will make mistakes. Many. And it's not fun. But it's better to try and fail and try again in the fight to do what you love than to spend every moment regretting that you didn't. Mistakes are hard to the confidence, but they are momentary. Regret lasts forever and it is a complete waste of emotion, time and energy. The only thing stopping you is your own accomplished skill of procrastination. So here's a tip for ya'll: procrastinate your everyday life by doing that thing that peaks your interest.
It's time to fill the blank page.