14/52 This Is 26
I stumble through the dimly lit street towards my Uber. I check the license plate “yep this is the car!” I think to myself. I have a small fear that one day I’ll get into a car that’s not actually my uber. Big up the UK media for that. #DeleteUber
“Hey!” I say as I get in and shuffle down. I like to sit on the seat diagonally behind the driver. It’s weird when you’re sitting right behind them don’t you think? The car feels off balance and I’d rather not be visible in their rear view mirror.
“Nina?” He asks.
“Yep that’s me!” I flash a smile and settle into what will be my surroundings for the next 40 minutes.
Silence falls upon us for a few moments as we begin driving off into the night.
“Looks like you’ve been at a wedding.” He says with so much enthusiasm that you’d think he thought he’d just solved the mystery of the world. We’ve got a real Sherlock Holmes right here! I think to myself.
“I did! My friend got married!!” I exclaim matching his enthusiasm. “It was magical. Only con was the lack of a free bar but that was probably a blessing in disguise.”
We continue chatting and he asks me what I do. Recently I’ve not really known how to answer this because is our job ‘what we do’? Is it the things we’re most passionate about even if they’re not proving us with a steady income? Is it a bit of both?
“I work in artist management.” I say automatically and go on explaining what that means and how people don’t understand how much goes on behind the scenes of a song they hear on the radio.
“Wow. That sounds so cool!” He says.
“Yeah…” I add feeling his approval. He’s impressed. People are always impressed when I go on about artist management. And I get it. The music industry sounds impressive.
After another few moments of silence I finally say, “Honestly though… I’m trying to find the guts to say that I wanna be an actor.”
This was my first dream in life. It was the first thing I did where I felt so much joy and I never really gave it a proper chance. 2 years ago I sat in my London flat, just having started my 3rd year at university and I had this small feeling in my gut that overpowered me for weeks. It told me that I wasn’t done with acting and that now was the time to revisit it.
So, I slowly eased my way back in with lots of resistance from the gremlins in my head and now a year and a half on, I’ve found a community and acting style that matches everything I always felt acting should be about and I’m producing and acting in a week long production at the Tristan Bates Theatre.
My uber driver smiles and responds with support and keen interest. He says we all need to go for what we want in this life. He tells me if that’s what I want I need to learn to say it out loud for all to hear.
He tells me how he’s got an MBA and spent 15 years working at a bank. He hated the job. He hated the people he worked with. The office politics were disgusting and one day he realised that going into an office and sitting behind a desk all day isn’t a life. So, he finally found the courage to quit his job and he’s now starting a business in the frozen food industry. He works for Uber because they give him flexible hours that work alongside his new entrepreneurial lifestyle really well.
And I naturally applaud his bravery to follow his dream. Seeing people do this makes me light up. He’s left an awesome salary and secure lifestyle for a life of risk and chance. He points out the financial difference:
“I drove a Mercedes Benz before this car!” He exclaims with an air of humour and disbelief hiding what may have been a moment where he felt doubt towards the path he’s chosen to embark on.
“People meet me and think I’m just an Uber driver. They don’t respect me like they used to.” He continues. “But I know where I’m going so it doesn’t matter.”
“Is it worth it?” I ask.
What follows is a long conversation about following your dreams and I’m reminded of so many influences that have come across my path over the past year. The books and speeches, the conversations and online articles. All revolving around this idea of trusting the instincts and following them through.
When we’re children we walk fearlessly through life and see the possibility that lies before us. We dream big and reach for the stars and as we all know, the older we become the more darkness tries to take over. We know this.
But I do believe that this process is actually crucial to us finding our path and living out what some may call our “destiny”. For this darkness, these moments of failure, doubt, loneliness, loss - they’re moments that are preparing us and equipping us with the tools we'll need when we finally embark on our true path. We need to build this range of experience before we can really bring something truthful to the world.
My Uber pulls up on my road. I thank him for the great conversation, give him 5 stars and as I walk up towards my flat, drop my keys on the small side table, my bag to the floor and slip off my chunky heeled shoes, I put the kettle on, wait for the boil and make a cup of fennel tea before dropping into the sofa. As I blow the scorching hot contents in my cup I burst into tears. Because the truth is I’m scared. I’m scared to really care about something. This whole music industry ladder I climbed? I managed to do it but I didn’t really care about it. Sure, I find it interesting and learned loads of amazing skills along the way and met awesome people. I wouldn't change it for a moment but like, I saw it as a challenge and kinda got hooked to playing the game more than anything else. It’s been based on feeding the ego rather than the heart. And that's been a difficult thing to admit. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t care about the work I did because I did and at the time I really did want to excel in it but I feel if I could get so far in something I never imagined I could get far in why couldn't I do the same for something I really want?
This past year has been the most uncomfortable and scary one of them all but it’s also been the most rewarding and inspiring. I trusted my instincts regardless of the odd clues they left and I'm starting to feel the benefits but, it's taken some time.
And so as I sit here I know that I shall always be many things for that is just how my make up is but as I embark on the 27th year of my life I’m ready to be even more foolish than before, make less sense, dream even more ridiculously, put my heart out on the line, tell the truth of how I feel and of what I want as well as what I don’t want. Be braver. Be bolder. Be more vulnerable. Be more loving; towards others and myself. And the outcome? It doesn’t matter. It’s not about the outcome. That’s what I’ve learned throughout all this. So I’ll end with this year's motto:
Come at me World! I dare ya.