11/52 Launch A Podcast
I woke up this morning without an alarm and felt like a well rested queen on a summers day. I made myself a green tea and sat in the glorious sun, taking in the fact that today I was going to chill.
As I walked down Kilburn High Road (This road is going to be so famous after this project is done. It’s the starting point of so many of my stories. You’re welcome Kilburn. I’ll pick up my 20% later on yeah?) I relished in the sunshine as I walked past TK MAXX which was packed with eager shoppers, all waiting to buy something that would make their long, dull weeks of working jobs they hate seem like they have purpose.
“Yeah I hate my job but at least I get to buy this reduced PRADA handbag.”
Then there’s the men at their grocery stall: “Two for £2!” they shout as they proudly show off their selection of fresh blueberries. Teenage girls walk down the road and I’m not at all envious of the fact that they still have to go high school and listen to their moms.
I turn left off the main road, past Franco Manca (the sexy bastard of a pizza restaurant) and wait for the 31 bus that takes me directly to Kentish Town West station where I meet my friend Kat. We were running lines for the play today. This rehearsal was followed by a walk towards the Camden market. A walk which became the premise of our scene which we acted out working with this new set up: A married lesbian couple walk around Camden in search for food when an argument ignites between them.
“Jesus christ, Maggie!” I exclaim reacting in shock and disbelief to what Kat just said. This naturally caught the attention of the passerby whose face read:
“Oh shit. A domestic. Wouldn’t wanna be you mate!”
There’s something glorious about having arguments in public that aren’t real as such because even if it’s not happening, acting is about exploring the emotions that come up naturally for you when you find yourself in certain situations. That’s all it really is. How would I feel if my wife accused me of cheating when in actuality something very different is going on?
And sometimes you don’t feel anything because you’ve become so good at cutting all emotion in your actual life. We become good at reflecting and putting on a strong exterior. And of course we do! Society constantly glorifies the “strong” - the ones who are tough and successful. It belittles and shames the downfall, the car crash moments and rejections.
So of course we build this wall. We think we need it if we are to survive this place.
So, do we just accept that? Many people do I think. I did for a while there. And the funny part is that I thought I was winning by doing this. Yeah. I like winning okay. I went on a date once at a board game cafe and you know how all those magazines you read as a teenager tell you to let the guy win to make him feel better about himself. yeah. Fuck that. #ThisIsWhyImSingle
The legend that is Brene Brown says (and I’m totally paraphrasing); the world is for the ones that have the courage to show their vulnerability and imperfections. She says how our society has taught us to numb vulnerability with alcohol, drugs, food or new shiny objects but we can’t selectively numb emotion. So when we numb the ones that we don’t want to feel we also end up numbing the others: joy, happiness, gratitude.
People always talk about how beautiful it is to get in touch with your feelings. They talk about it being brave and fundamental to the human experience and oh they talk about it so poetically and with so much grace! These types of TED talks leave me feeling incredibly inspired and I think "Give me some of that feeling. Yes please. I’ll take two helpings!”
So, I’ve been trying this whole vulnerability thing and you know what? It’s been horrid.
It’s been an absolute nightmare and uncomfortable experience. “God! I was so open and honest! I shouldn't have said that.” “I showed so much of myself and what I’m feeling! Ew.” “I’m undeniably foolish.” All these thoughts are making this incredibly unpleasant. But. At the same time. Those people. They’re right. It’s also the most amazing experience.
Every week since starting project 52 I’ve been unknowingly documenting my process of all this. Every week I’ve been having some new revelation or vulnerable experience. Some weeks I’ve been more honest about them than others but it’s always there, if not in your face, chilling at the bottom with calm confidence.
Despite being terrifying it’s also the most liberating and empowering thing you can do. I feel more unsure of myself and sure of myself than ever before. It’s an odd mix that doesn’t seem to really make sense but everything in life is based around duality: There cant be good without the bad, there can’t be calm without the storm, there can’t be growth and progress without destruction and discomfort. And I suppose there also can’t be certainty without uncertainty.
So, I’m embracing the path of mistakes and messiness. And naturally, my system is still trying to fight me at every turn as I try and break through the mould. And it’s not it’s fault. I trained it to do this like a well trained dog.
Feeling sad? My system would go into panic mode:
“MAY DAY MAY DAY!! NO! STOP! HIT THE BREAKS! 911! STOOOP! Okay. We’re good. We’re all good. Everything is okay. We are fine. Great job everybody! That must have been a record breaking time. Beers all round.”
I launched my podcast this week. It’s about the music industry. I wanted to showcase conversations with a range of people currently living the realities of what the business is actually like. It’s been a joy to record and put together. Even in the moments of stress I fucking loved it. And despite it being about other people, I’m still in them. I’m presenting the episodes and asking the questions and am out there in the world for everyone to see. To judge. To laugh at. To love. To hate. Anyone can think whatever they want and have their opinion and fuck that’s scary!
I had a challenging week, I felt overwhelmed by past moments of sadness that caught up with me. The feelings we sweep under the metaphorical rug of our bodies. Many build up this pile for years. Decades even. And some die with the pile still neatly hidden beneath that rug. Mission accomplished. Right?
So yes, lots of regret as I sat out in the warm London air wiping away the tears. I headed back inside, off to a meeting with Chris, one of the founders of The Rattle to discuss Dauntless and what it’s to become. I’ve been beating myself up about my lack of clarity on it but this day I was reminded that it’s not about turning this into one specific thing immediately. I have too many interests and curiosities I want to explore. That’s why there’s no clarity of what I’m trying to do. So - I’m reminded to just keep creating and following those instincts. See how far you can push these short term projects.
At one point Chris asks me “What’s the craziest thing you could do?” And I don’t even need a moment to think as the impulse fires the thought straight through me like a rocket being launched into space:
“Find my way onto a Quentin Tarantino film set.”
He looks at me for a moment in what seems both disbelief and confusion and I’m half expecting a mocking laugh. Instead, he continues:
“Yes! Love that. Go do it!”
And I feel inspired and exhilarated but am immediately met with the voices: “Don’t be stupid.” Reason said as she puts a hand on her hip and rolls her eyes. “Impossible!” Fear chimes in with absolute certainty. Judgement calculates the numbers on her spreadsheet while fixing the glasses on her nose “Can’t be done” she finally says.
At this moment Chris looks across my shoulder in absolute awe and disbelief. ‘What. Whats going on’ I ask. ’Rhj%!* just walked in.” I take a moment to process this. What. Who. Huh? And before I can really figure out what to do he says “Let’s go say hi.” and he gets up from his seat. As if by impulse I leap up and follow Chris to the common area where right in front of me stands the man who I’ve admired for so long. His attitude towards life more than anything else really. I admire his sense of adventure and curiosity and his bold and audacious attitude. He looks me straight in the eyes, extends his arm towards me awaits a handshake which I of course oblige to follow through with. We share a moment of clear eye contact “Hello” he says in his quiet confidence. “Nina.” I say with as much normality as I can manage.
And that’s the story of how I met Richard Branson.
And I bring this up not to name drop. I bring this up to show you that we’re often so much closer to where we wanna be than we think. We just have to be bold enough to take those first steps and aim higher. Also, this made me think of duality again.
We admire those we want to become or who we believe hold the keys to us getting there but we forget that at the end of the day, when these people are stripped from their job titles they remain people and like all of us they go through the universal human experiences like feeling frustrated with our partners, sad when a friendship dies and discomfort before launching a new idea.
We’re all capable of living in that realm as well. We just have to be brave enough to reach out for it on multiple occasions knowing that the majority of those times we’ll probably be rejected. The trick is to keep trying while also taking control of your own fate. What can you do today that allows you to do what you love and share it with the world? And the truly breathtaking work will be heard among the noise. It’ll stand out with such poise and bewildering power that it’ll grab the attention of those in the realms above. The gatekeepers can’t ignore the shining light from down below and will want to raise it higher.
And what determines this shining light? It’s not just talent no. I believe, it’s the foundation it’s built on. Some build their foundations quicker and with more ease while it takes others longer as they’re distracted by life’s many pleasures. Some have better tools than others. I personally believe it’s the work that speaks to the human soul that shines the brightest. The work that’s most human. Because that’s what we all want to experience. Artists are the medium which the majority of people use to access their emotions while not having to own them as their own.
Knowing yourself helps build that strong foundation. When we’ve faced ourselves and have had those difficult conversations it makes us a more well rounded person with something to say in a way that no one else could say it.
Others will attempt to copy and duplicate your path while not realising that it cannot be done. It’s like when people say they want to be the next Ed Sheeran or The Beatles. It doesn’t work like that.
Knowing this we have a duty to figure out what our gift to the world really is. Take away your idols and aspirations - I mean sure, these will all have an influence in your own work but what’ll make you stand out is taking that and adding in your own special ingredient which no one else has. This is how great art is born. In my opinion anyways. The right one.
And the point - yes we must always have a point (that’s what They say anyway) is that we are in full control of where we decide to go and it takes real balls to pave a new road. It’s tough and you’ll often look over to your right and feel a pang of jealousy when you see your friend on the highway road next to you, sipping on margaritas while choosing her newest company phone and cashing in her 6-figure salary while you’re down in the dirt on your hands and knees, living off instant noodles and rice. Yum.
But this path will lead to so much possibility because nothing is set so anything is possible. So, live dangerously in the arena. It doesn’t really matter what you do. Just get in and see what happens. Feel things. Be open to being knocked out a bunch of times but also know that the highs you’ll encounter and the people you’ll meet are well worth the discomfort. And finally, tell fear to fuck off.
So, find myself on a question Tarantino film. Can it be done?
You tell me.