Training >>Watch Video>>
I was sort of up to my eyes in my training which was amazing, busy all the time. I was also working. I would be Monday to Friday all day inside The Lir, giving it my all and having an amazing time, but over the weekends I would work in a shoe shop which was also a lovely place to work.
I could pay my rent and still be able to live close enough to The Lir but I think because I didn’t have a meaningful day off over that long a period of time, (it was the guts of two years) I started to develop an awful lot of anxiety and exhaustion. Just anything then could tip me over the edge and I’d end up really overwhelmed. The Lir’s an intense enough process as it is without having to contend with that. I also had to be very mindful of not resenting other people’s experiences – people who had weekends would come back on Monday feeling fresh and ready to go or nearly giving out that they had a boring weekend when I’m like, “What I wouldn’t give for a boring weekend where I could just do nothing”.
Anxious and overwhelmed
By the time COVID hit, I could feel when I would get very, very anxious and overwhelmed and I wouldn’t engage with my studies and my friends in the way that I wanted to.
It takes so long to identify, I suppose because it happens very gradually. We’re ambitious and we want to keep going and we want to be seen as being ambitious and tenacious and full of energy and here for everything… or me anyway, that’s how I want to be and how I want to be seen. You don’t see what you don’t want to see in yourself. I feel that’s why it’s so easy to fall into really negative patterns of punishing yourself for not having energy or just being very hard on yourself and not taking a rest when you need it.
Even in the fear of “What’s going on? Is this pandemic gonna be forever? Am I ever going to get to work in a rehearsal room or in front of an audience again?” – in that very scary time there was also a sort of peace knowing that nothing can happen. “Nothing’s moving right now.” That was a leveller that made me feel very calm because I suddenly wasn’t trying to get to the end or be in a race. I wasn’t comparing myself to anyone because everyone was sort of level.
Not sustainable >>Watch Video>>
After COVID, suddenly having all of the demands placed on me again, I thought, “OK, I’ve got back to college. OK, I’ve got back to work”. That’s when I started to think, “This is not sustainable. You can’t keep doing this.” What I had been doing for like two years, I couldn’t sustain any more. My body said, “You can’t, you can’t, you have to find time, days off here and there.”
I suppose things roll by in such a way in The Lir… I don’t remember making any conscious decisions. I just had to keep going but if I was having a particularly full-on week in college, I would call work and say, “Can I just do one day this weekend?” I didn’t really give myself that option before because I was able to keep going. I was able to sustain myself, but realising that I couldn’t, meant asking for time off, asking for a break, and I don’t like doing that. It’s not something that comes to me very easily or naturally in a professional context.
I was learning and I still am. I’m definitely not 100% there yet but I’m getting better at listening to my body and saying, “OK, we need to stop now for a little while”.
A few shifts
Now I’m trying to keep more time free for writing and for doing other bits. I’m lucky enough that The Lir, where I studied, will give me a few shifts here and there to kind of keep me going.
Good piece of news
I got an email saying that on Tuesday this week I would have a day on a TV show so that was amazing. It was very exciting scrambling to get everything together, then it’s over very quickly. When you get a good piece of news like that you’re like, “Unreal!”. You do your day and you’re like, “Right. What’s next?” It’s always strange coming down from a job.
Keeping yourself afloat >>Watch Video>>
I started in college to write down irrefutable good things that people have said about me. Nice feedback that I’ve gotten so when I need a bit of a kick, I have it all in a little notebook. Even friends who have sent me nice texts, I’ll write down the nice texts in case I need to go fishing for compliments to make myself feel good about myself again. These people have said this stuff for free. It’s a nice way of keeping yourself afloat.
What the universe throws at me
I’m nearly a year out of The Lir now. It’s been a year of very much getting used to not being in that educational structure. People deal with that very differently but I’ve really thrived at being able to look after my time now that it’s my own to do with what I want. I’m very lucky in that there are places I can go if I’m struggling and need work and I’ve also had a couple of acting jobs since graduating which have kept me ticking over as well.
I’m really enjoying just seeing what the universe throws at me right now. I think there’s a lovely freedom in that but I also acknowledge that it’s a real privilege to be able to do that. I can say, “Oh I’m going to leave that week empty and see what happens” because if I can’t do that, I can’t say, “Yes” to jobs like I got this week. That’s how I’m doing things at the moment but I’m sure there’ll be a change on the horizon.
It’s really key that as artists, we know who we are in the various ways that we can be in life. You need to know who you are and how you are when you might not have a gig or when you’re so busy that you haven’t had a break in two years. I think there’s something to be learned from all experiences, good and bad, and I think it’s really important not to be closed off to any situations.
I want to know who I am on a six-month tour. I also want to know who I am when I’m having to live at home because the rental crisis in Dublin is out of this world. I also want to know who I am when I finally get a house in Dublin again and I can move back and be around the city and be that kind of person again. I think they’re all really valuable experiences to learn.
At the moment
At the moment, because I’m based in Wicklow, I wouldn’t see my friends as much so the social bubble is kind of a little smaller but the work is blooming.
I’m working on An Triail with Fibín out in Galway. I remember doing it in the Leaving Cert. It’s actually been so fun rediscovering the play with an acting brain and a drama brain rather than just being like, “Oh, what do I need to write about this?” for an exam. It’s incredible. I didn’t have a good perspective on that when I was 18 trying to read it. It’s an amazing play, I’m so lucky.
An Triail Fíbín tour
Now until Oct 21st: The Axis, Dublin
Oct 25th – 26th: Siamsa Tíre, Kerry
Nov 8th – 9th: Townhall Westport, Mayo
Nov 14th – 15th: The Visual, Carlow
Remember, if you’re a member of the Irish creative industry, Minding Creative Minds offers life coaching free of charge. We also have a team of counsellors/psychotherapists on-hand to support you emotionally at any time of the day or night + we can support you with practical and financial advice too. Simply call the phone number below.