For all of the shitty things people say to you, keep listening. Because despite everything, usually the reason they’re getting to you is because, on some level, they might have a point.
And yes, that point might be obscured by dickish, pig-headed fuckery, but it’s important that we pick up the gold being dropped between those other nuggets.
In my case, the one that springs to mind today is the concept of ‘arrival’. I’m not talking about your airports or your parties. I’m talking about the feeling of arriving. Those moments when you turn around and say, “hey, look how far I’ve come”.
Because for so much of the time, many of us focus on our flaws. On the things we’re not getting, or the people who aren’t noticing us. We focus on failure.
The course leader on my MA at drama school said two things to me. One was the right thing, said in the wrong way. The second time, it was the right way. I had to confront him first.
I asked why I hadn’t been given a scene. “It was a risk, taking you on,” he said. “The others are more ready.”
He was absolutely right. How could I show love if I’d never felt it? Or loss? All I had was non-directional complexity. Buried fury, suppressed rejection. I had the drive to make an audience love me, but not the tools or experience.
I asked him again, later. I said how hurt I felt by that comment. He said, “Everyone arrives in their own time. Some people take longer than others. I have every confidence that you’ll get there.”
Pearls of wisdom are so-called because they can apply to so many different situations. This is one such occasion.
My career, which I’ve been trying to get right – I’m not ready. I had an interview for a role as a director of a charity. A FRIKKIN’ DIRECTOR, at 32 years old. When they rejected me (which I was fully expecting, because everyone else at the interview had 10 years more experience than I did), they said I outperformed the others in a few ways, but my lack of experience was what did it. But it still cut me. Why? There is no way I am ready to be a director – but I know I want to be, some day. (Yes, I want to be a writer first, but we’re talking about maintaining a lifestyle, honey.)
Buying a house. I’m scrimping and saving, but I won’t be ready until everything else is more settled. Besides, buying in London would be an achievement at any age.
There is time for all of this. Why the need to run before walking? I’ve always done it. When I studied music, my teachers were screaming at me to stop picking the difficult songs. “Get amazing at the basics first,” they said. Did I listen? No. My voice is probably fucked now (though I still blame teaching for that).
Teaching – that was a hard lesson. Letting kids fail, pushing their growth mindset. Embracing failure is so hard, I can only hope some people are growing up comfortable with it, taking big risks and being amazing.
There’s time for us all to learn this lesson, so do it with me.