Number 11 – The Exuberance of Youth
I just looked back at my calendar for the period of my life from leaving school to the end of my first term at university. For me, this falls between Jul 2009 and Dec 2010. My overriding impression was shock at just how much I was cramming into my life!
In particular, the period from March to December 2010 is quite unbelievable. In March, I started assisting on some productions at RADA Enterprises – I was a sort of mix of assistant director, deputy stage manager and general-pair-of-helping-hands. So, I was travelling into London for rehearsals at Gower Street 4-6 days a week. Meanwhile, I had flute lessons one or two evenings a week, building to my Grade 8 exam at the end of the month. I was also doing drama classes one evening week and entering monologues and duologues into competitions in Bristol and Reading. If that wasn’t enough, I also auditioned for a local amateur production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and attended multiple university open days! This was all within one month!
After this, I continued to travel into rehearsals at RADA, whilst playing cricket on Saturdays and sometimes on Wednesday evenings as well. Plus, I got cast as Puck in the Midsummer production so started rehearsing that all day Sunday and on Monday evenings. I was also working towards my Advanced Performance Certificate as an actor – the next level up from Grade 8.
The final week of rehearsals at RADA coincided with production week for Midsummer. Literally as soon as I finished this, I was back into London to spend a month with the National Youth Theatre and living away from home for the first extended period of time in my life.
Once the month with NYT was finished, I got my old drama group together and self-produced a reduced production of The Importance of Being Earnest, accompanied by a series of monologues and duologues. In the middle of which, I travelled to Dublin to visit Trinity College where I had been offered a place to study History.
We performed Earnest on Tuesday 14th September and on Saturday 18th September I moved into my halls of residence for King’s College London (having decided to stay in the UK for my university education). And to top it all, before I even started lectures, I had been cast in two university productions.
I look at that now with ten years remove and am completely flabbergasted by the amount I crammed into a few months of my life. In my memory, all of these events are far more spaced out. No-one could argue that I wasted my gap year, anyway!
Now, in many ways, life was easier for 19-year-old me than it is now. I had far fewer responsibilities, little to no cooking or cleaning or life admin required, I had youthful energy and enthusiasm on my side, etc. But, more than anything, this proves just how much we are capable of when we free ourselves from expectation, pressure, and a sense of how things ‘should be done’.
From a detached perspective, this seems like a person who is living in the moment, seizing every opportunity that presented itself, without fear of failure or ridicule. Now, I know for a fact, this period wasn’t all plain sailing – I remember vividly a complete meltdown over deciding where to go to university. I also know that I was tired and stressed at various moments – my time with NYT that year definitely pushed me to breaking point a couple of times. But the overall impression of that time of my life is: “Wow! What an amazing set of achievements and accomplishments.”
So, maybe it is time to recapture some of that youthful lust for life. Grab hold of every opportunity and create new ones besides. Push your personal development and learning. Have a vague notion of hopes and ambitions for the future but focus on the present and give life and living your full focus and energy.