At the end of February I quit my job of four years. I’d been working from home due to being a little hermit crab, and I was sitting in our kitchen on a conference call when the big “Fuck This Shit” light bulb went off in my head.
It had been a while coming I think. I’d started to feel complacent last year and I think the death of my brother in September sort of intensified the realisation that life is too short. It’s too short to do things you don’t really want to do, and it’s to short not to take chances. One of the last conversations I ever had with Parker was asking for his opinion on what the hell I’m going to do with my life, and he offered me the simple advice of: “You already know, you’ve just got to take the risk”. Now, don’t get me wrong – my job was great. I went to a lot of events and met various people I never would have otherwise; I regularly travelled to some of the world’s most beautiful cities, flew business, stayed in fancy hotels, mingled with the famouses, the lot. Why would anyone want to leave that? It’s pretty much the high life, and it really was for me at one point… but not any more. With everything that’s happened since September, I realised I wanted to devote my time and energy to something that makes a difference to someone and to have finally taken the first step in doing that feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I will miss it, and I’ll miss people I worked with and the work I did do – I was good at it, but sometimes your own wellbeing just comes first.
For those that don’t know, until the age of 23 (I’m now 27), I worked my whole life to dance professionally. I started Ballet at the age of 3 having being influenced by my Grandmother and at the age of 16 moved to the States to attend Juilliard where I completed a BFA in Dance, with Classical Ballet as my Major. I’ve worked with Cirque du Soleil, The American Ballet Theatre in New York and the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm. I’ve travelled all over the world with these companies and performed in various venues. Sounds like I’m probably bragging, right? Not really – just highlighting that it’s been the only true drive I’ve ever actually had in life. I retired though, through my own choice for reasons very few people know about. It was the right decision at the time, and it led me to where I am now. Since moving to London, I’ve taught Ballet in my spare time and most recently on a self-employed basis through a studio in North London and it’s given me more joy and satisfaction than any of the experiences I had as a Designer Fashion Buyer.
The good thing about performing arts, and any arty tart type profession, is that it is essentially six degrees of separation. Either you know someone, or you know someone who knows someone else and London seems to be a hub of connections for me. Thankfully, I’m in a comfortable enough position to be able to take a month or so to allow dust to settle and to concentrate on myself before officially embarking on this next journey. I’ve got to be honest, I’m pretty stoked about it and it feels like a real sense of motivation for me.
I’m past my sell by date on being able to dance professionally again, but I need to get myself back into that frame of mind in terms of my physical fitness and mentality. I used to train six days a week for up to eight hours a day, and I’ll never be back to that standard again but I do need to get some discipline back. I also think this added focus will also help my mental health as it gives me something tangible to concentrate on and maintain. If you’re reading this through knowing me on a personal basis, you’re probably thinking: a diet, really? I’m 5’9, and I weigh 125lb so no, I don’t mean a diet. The ‘Stones might have had Time on their side, but thankfully I’ve got an excellent metabolism on mine. It’s not necessarily about needing to look a certain way (although that is a large part of Ballet), it’s about being more regimented and disciplined with myself again – although if you’re thinking I’m giving up pizza and wine you can think again.
I’ll be teaching full-time along with some other lovely people, a couple who I already knew and some have been introduced to me. This opportunity gives me so much more time to do things I want to do in my own time and pursue interests that were put to the back of the shelf over the past few years from gaining more workaholic tendencies. One of these is volunteering, which I’d been doing with a charity in Hackney that arranges activities for children with physical and mental disabilities. I genuinely adored being part of that, and it’s something I’m going to be able to devote more time to now that I’ve got more of it myself. Putting others before myself has always been my thing, and something I’m often chastised for because I’m not selfish enough and I don’t put my own needs first. But to you naysayers I offer this rebuttal: What if my need is the need of others? Pretty sure I’m technically putting myself first there.
It’s funny how things come full circle sometimes, isn’t it? And how sometimes it takes something awful to happen for you to realise who you are and what you really want out of your life. I don’t believe in karma or fate or any of that bullshit, but it does feel like the universe has recognised your struggles and said, “Hey kid, looks like you need a break – here’s what you go to do…”. I’m running with it anyway.