Well 2016 was a bit of a bumpy journey but I’m pleased to say that we both (yes you reader, and I) managed to stay on the camel through all 366 days, even with that extra one sneaked in too. (Bare with me on the camel analogy) Yes, we may have fallen in the quick sand and thought we’d been ‘hit and sunk’, yes, the sandstorm may have fogged our vision and led us to choose another pathway and yes, life may have tried to buck us off, leaving us hanging on for dear life, but here we are, a bit disheveled, with a bruised bum and lovely sweaty upper lip, but we survived!
With all the changes and personal accomplishments that happened during 2016 there has undoubtably been some big discoveries about myself and some stupid things that I should have realised a while ago, so here are 16 things I learnt during this one heck of a journey. Enjoy!
No. 1: THAT I AM STRONGER THAN I THOUGHT
I’ve always had the mentality that I can achieve any thing I set my mind to, there is always more to learn, more depth to gain in my skills and more things to try, an attitude I am pretty proud of myself for having. For example, if a choreographer wants a section sped up so that’s insanely quick, it’s manageable and I can definitely do it, even if it does take me a few times, But there has always been sort of this barrier where my emotional side and my passion or nerves collided, particularly in uncomfortable or new scenarios.
This is not so much the case now, having gone through and conquered 2016. My experiences in my first year in full time professional performing arts training has forced me to realise that my body can be pushed further both physically and mentally than I’d taken it before. In situations where I know I would have just broken down, I’ve somehow managed to keep my cool or postpone the break down for much longer than I would have predicted. My course at uni is so demanding on my body (and pressurising on my self-esteem) that the emotional rollercoaster you go through in just a day, let alone a week, is huge, so being able to maintain some composure is an achievement for me, particularly as I’ve always been a pretty emotion-driven person. My poor muscles, have been taken to the edge and back again, their endurance and overall strength and flexibility tried and tested and constantly having to battle the ever-looming tiredness, a terrible disease we all contract at some point, has been a real struggle. But this year, I have really understood the word tired to it’s fullest. When you’re body feels like it weighs the same as five lorries but you still have to do your daily ballet class, jazz class, drama and an MT jazz class, you go beyond tired to a new level of exhausted, but you’re enjoying it and progressing so it’s worth it.
No. 2: THAT I AM CAPABLE OF CONQUERING MY FEARS
I mean how cliche right? Just to clarify I’m not talking about tackling my fears of spiders and learning not to react as if they are all as big as my hands or or the way that the ocean kinda scares me because I think that I’m going to get eaten by a shark if I go like a metre in, true story- it put me off going to Australia for years as I just invisioned every body of water being like a shark version of a snake pit- but more achievable fears to overcome (& ones that don’t involve any sort of animal).
A goal for 2016 was to do more things that made me scared and push passed obstacles that I previously had, something I would like to say that I think I did pretty well at & I definitely learnt a few things along the way. I always got told this and I think I just didn’t really want to believe it was true as I was always a bit of a wimp when it came to trying new things, fear of the unknown and all that, but the way to face a fear IS just to keep trying at it and putting yourself in the situation that unnerves you until it becomes more familiar. Finding motivation to help change your mindset is a big part of facing your fears and, as one of my singing teachers said, ‘You can’t improve if you don’t believe in yourself and you can’t believe in yourself if you aren’t prepared’.
No.3: THAT I LOVE MY WONDERFUL FRIENDS AND FAMILY VERY, VERY MUCH (although I did already know this)
I’ve been very fortunate to have such supportive and amazing people surrounding me throughout me life and I’m constantly thankful for this, but this years has proven just how so. Moving to London for Uni was a massive change in my life and it’s made me evermore conscious of my love for my friends and family as distance makes you appreciate (and dearly miss) the people close to you, so don’t forget to do the same in the moments you share together, when you aren’t so far apart.
No.4: THAT I SHOULDN’T MYSELF SUCH HIGH, UNACHIEVABLE STANDARDS
It’s such a silly thing that I do but I’m so ambitious and competitive with myself that I’m always striving to be better and push myself further to be the best I can. That’s great, but I have always done something really stupid in that I set myself such massive goals without breaking it down into smaller aims so it’s therefore so unachieveable that when I don’t make it there I just beat myself up about it. It’s just seems to be an ongoing circle even though I’m the only one setting these high standards. So don’t try to live up to expectations or live by barriers and rules that you’ve either created in your head or just because it’s a particular image that you want to uphold- live by the rules of happiness not by social expectations and through trying to please others.
No.5: THAT I’M PROUD OF WHAT I’VE ACHIEVED
Things might not go exactly how you planned or to the high standard of which you expected, but you should accept the fact that you still achieved what you wanted and it’s something to be proud of- others would describe as ‘good’ so don’t drag yourself down over positive things.
No.6: THAT BEING PREPARED PAYS OFF
Always carry around lip balm and hand moisturiser- always useful and always necessary! Side note: always buy more underwear than you think- it somehow always seems to disappear / gets put in the wash and never comes out! (Especially when the pretty thongs in Topshop are 3 for £10, it would é silly not to!)
No.7: THAT THERE IS HOPE FOR HUMANITY
You must have seen all the talk that 2016 was just a ‘bad’ year in general with so many awful things happening all across the globe, and because of this some of the good things get over looked. Personally, 2016 was quite a good year for me, not the best, but not awful, but I know for many others it was life-changing in a the worst way possible. However, mixed amongst the series of negative things that happened globally, there was international support on social media whenever a horrific natural disaster happened. It showed me that the world pulls together in the most difficult of times and with this, the communities online are so much stronger and more supportive than I’d ever expected- have faith in (most of) humanity.
No.8: THAT I NEED TO SET SMALL GOALS TO ACHIEVE A BIGGER ONE
I mentioned this above, but I’m someone that likes to just aim for the end result with a brief plan of the way in which I’ll achieve it but not actually being 100% realistic or setting other smaller goals throughout the process. Take the journey one step at a time; you may have a list of things you want to improve but you won’t manage them all at the same time. Spend time tackling them each individually and at some point you will achieved all your aims.
No.9: THAT FIXING THE OUTSIDE DOESNT FIX THE INSIDE
If something bad is repeatedly happening, fix the root of the problem not just the issues and side effects of it.
No.10: THAT MY INSTINCTS ARE ALWAYS TRUE
The theatre is always worth the money- don’t doubt yourself and your instincts! (Aside from this I’m a very good judge of character so even if people try to prove otherwise, always cautiously have your first instinct somewhere hidden in the back of your mind. Yes, people change and the saying is correct, don’t judge a book by its cover, but if your gut instincts are telling you something don’t rule them out straight away.)
No.11: THAT TRUE FRIENDS STICK BY YOU THROUGH THICK OR THIN
No matter the distance put between you, your true friends will always remain your closest friends so keep checking in with them as much as possible- FaceTime is a wonderful invention, so use it.
No.12: THAT THE ONLY WAY TO ACHIEVE DREAMS IS TO MAKE A START
Your dreams are just dreams until you start putting them into action, so never be afraid to push yourself to take the next step on your journey to get where you want to be- in the future you want to live a life you’ve created, so don’t just settle for the minimum and don’t get scared to look ‘different’ or to be ‘too determined’ or too much of a ‘try-hard’, these are good qualities to have, and ones that will make you get that job you’ve always wanted and allow you to achieve your dreams.
No.13: THAT YOUR BODY IS YOUR TEMPLE
Always listen to your body- if it’s telling you no, then no it is. Can this rule still apply when my body is craving chocolate like there’s no tomorrow? I’m gonna go with yes and we will sort out that summer bod and non-existent gym membership later on…
No.14: THAT ‘ME’ TIME IS ACCEPTABLE
Sometimes you need to be just a little bit selfish- don’t forget to have alone time and treat yourself every now and then. If something is going to aid you in terms of getting your dreams, don’t be scared to snatch up that opportunity or focus all your energy on making it happen.
No.15: THAT YOU DON’T ‘LOOK WEAK’ IF YOU CONFIDE IN SOMEONE
In the times that you are feeling most down talk to others. Don’t lock yourself up inside your own head as in the darkest moments you become slightly delusional and tiny negative points spiral into gigantic seemingly life-threatening ones.
No.16: THAT A POSITIVE MINDSET MAKES A POSITIVE LIFE
I don’t think I need to explain this one anymore but negativity encourages negativity and positivity leads to positivity, so make your choice wisely!
No.17: THAT ‘HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT DOESN’T WORK’
You may think that those around you are so much more ‘competent’, ‘better’ or ‘more skilled’, but if you are constantly and consistantly working on your weakest areas and maintaining, even improving your strongest ones too, you are always going to be progressing and the tables will soon be flipped- self-motivation and work = power. Also everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, just because someone is amazing at something or comes across a certain way, they might have been struggling for years to get to that level. People don’t like to show their struggles so don’t presume everyone else doesn’t have to try to get where they are, you don’t know the journey they’ve been on.
I’d love to hear what you learnt from 2016 in the comments!
As I’m posting this I’m about to see Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ for a spontaneous Theatre trip after getting offered a ticket for it this morning, and I’m super pumped! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend, I’ve been super busy helping at the Move It 2017 convention yesterday and sorting out loads of bits and pieces today that probably aren’t of any actual importance in my life but I take 3x as long doing them than is acceptable simply because I have nothing of any interest to do, so seeing a show this evening will be lovely!
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x