2016, often held up in media as “The Worst Year Ever”, was a fantastic but, more importantly, an educational year for me. Many lessons I began during that year have carried forward to the present – Nobody can say I’m not a work in progress, to say the least!
A number of things happened that have tested me, helped me grow and, in some cases, hardened me. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – even if they aren’t particularly as I expected.
For a start, I am learning how to function as an early 20s woman, dealing with many issues a lot of women face: Birth control, self-confidence, safety, health, trust, love are just a few of the broad subjects.
For years I have had to deal with fainting spells and blood pressure problems, but last October saw me have to deal with a very dangerous consequence of fainting when I collapsed walking home at night and cracked my head open and gained a severe concussion and a night in A&E with all manner of neckbraces, wheelchairs and wrap-around stretchers that I never wanted to experience (trust me, nobody is going to let you get up from all of that stuff with a broken head to go and pee, so that was a true moment of “Mind over matter”)
Last year, I was assaulted in public in a way that shook me for months and I am still getting to terms with, though that is as much as I can say on that matter.
After years of living with monthly agony, an experience that is nothing more than a minor inconvenience for the majority of women, I started on a path to seek help through birth control (posts to follow about that soon).
I experienced a breakup with someone who is still an incredible friend of mine, which later lead me to a mutually loving and supportive relationship which has changed my life and helped me grow to a happier and braver person.
Those are just a very few experience that made 2016 both an educational and eventful year. And what I have learnt has set me on course for a 2017 well spent, because I am learning to BE Amy again.
A few years ago, my entire world was shaken by some drastic changes that flipped everything I knew about life and people upside my head. That was also during a time that I was at the lowest lows of my, now knocking on 11-year, depression. Those, and numerous other, circumstances combined have meant a spiralling nose-dive of depression, anxiety, illness and stress that I am finally seeing the light out of. I have invested in the wrong causes, battled hopelessness, struggled with self-harm and tried to find solace in work, knitting, let’s playing and even this blog as a way to feel validated by doing. While those things have been all well and good, I realised at the end of 2015 that before I could really feel validated by doing, I had to learn how to be satisfied by BEING. When you have gone through patches of not caring about waking up the next day, you really can’t just hop into a career to fix what is broken. As every builder knows, you need a strong foundation before you can build a sturdy house.
Over the last year, I decided to put a number of things on hold and, whilst the lack of progress with them made me stressed out of guilt, I waited to see which things I was doing I was actually passionate enough to come back to. I have taken time, spoken to many helpful people, researched, spent time with myself and fully invested in learning what makes Amy a happy person, because for years I have been convinced that I am not happy, it is just a sensation that comes over me sometimes.
I feel now energised enough in my mind to pursue more goals, and that is from taking a step back to actually think “Hey, what do I want?”
I have tried so many times to pour all of myself into potential professions and just not found deep satisfaction, at the very least in my methods of execution. I have pursued so many things, such as: YouTube, Jewellery making, Hospitality, Academia, Counselling, Languages, even Acting – which has been my life goal for as long as I can remember. All of these things are interesting and enjoyable to me, but before they can make me satisfied, I have to know how to just be happy.
Here are some of the things that I have rediscovered my love for that have helped me rediscover myself:
After a lot of stress during my A Levels, I really fell out of the habit of reading. I would often reread things I already knew, or pick up a phone when I couldn’t be bothered choosing which book to pick up.
Over the summer I decided to take up my long neglected habit and start reading again. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 was my first of about 10 books I read last year (not a huge number for some, but not bad for someone slow like myself) and it relit my passion for books that really make you think.
Many books I had attempted and gave up on previously offered no more depth than the words on the page, so reading something of Slaughterhouse’s calibre really struck a spark under the powder keg of my passion.
I am currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird during quiet times at work and I feel so fulfilled getting at least a few pages a day of progress.
Okay, we all watch a fair few films but, much like with reading, I fell into a habit of watching what I already knew or just looking at films as opposed to letting them absorb me in the story. I became all about making a bullet point list in my head of pros and cons and examining the work behind it, as opposed to really appreciating the hard work of the makers by just genuinely experiencing it.
Films still spark this little flutter in my stomach that makes me go “Aaah, I want to do that too!” but finally I feel in a place where I actually can – and I am, as I am currently working on 4 separate films with collaborators I really trust.
Summer this year was long and I had a job somewhere near my hometown which I didn’t fit in too well with, so the savior of those few months was going on adventures with my friends (Particularly the almost daily adventures with my friend Tom). I climbed waterfalls, swam wearing jeans and a bra, followed sheep up a mountain, upped sticks and went to Birmingham for a weekend for no reason but that I wanted to see my boyfriend, explored Nottingham for a day, went to the Edinburgh Fringe festival for a week, trekked mountains, stood in empty lakes, chased countless sunsets and saw dozens of sunrises – And I loved it!
There is nothing like the feeling of getting a phonecall and being told “Bring a torch and wear boots, I’ll be outside in 10.” and knowing that by the time you return, you will have done something incredible.
There is nothing like the feeling of being surrounded by the people who know you the most and all of you being in tears from the pain of laughing so hard your abs ache. For so long, I spent those moments looking on and wondering why I couldn’t feel the same way and enjoy that beautiful bonding moment as much – Now I can and I will never let that slip away.
I have embraced a number of people who know when I am sad in a heartbeat and who will do all they can to make me happy and they have provided me with so many wonderful times, from improvising me a solo D&D quest in the middle of a pub, to dancing around in sunglasses, to holding my hand in hospital and joking about being the worst doctor in the world, to tagging me in thousands of funny videos to brighten my day. I have learnt that even if I am lying in a hospital bed with a massive crack in my head, my funny bone can never be broken.
Acting & Directing
Acting, while in question about how I want to pursue it and whether as a career or a personal passion, is still something that makes me so happy to do. It is that moment of being someone else for a few hours and getting to look at the world from a different perspective and learn from their mistakes. What I have learnt, however, is that to be a happy actor, you HAVE to lay your foundation well in order to feel whole as yourself. I have spent many years wanting to pursue acting and wondering why I felt so hollow at times after doing it. But I have learnt that I am someone who has other needs to be met as well for acting to make me truly happy – needs such as a healthy diet, love (from myself and others), security in my life (because we all know for most actors money isn’t always the best subject), time to be myself as opposed to living as other people all the time, and variety.
While I have learnt that acting makes me happy, it doesn’t when my entire mind is focused on it and my entire mind is “CAREER! CARE ABOUT NOTHING AND NOBODY ELSE, JUST CAREER” – it may work for some, but not me.
I have also expanded to embrace the role of puppet master by taking on the job of directing a play as well as starting a bunch of film projects of my own invention. Directing gives me much the same dose of thrill and passion as acting, and I get to flex my practical problem solving muscles at the same time. It’s a win-win situation, as I get to be involved with the process of building a performance, while also doing those satisfying nitty gritty bits in between!
I came back to this, didn’t I? This site really fell by the wayside after a very bad breakup that left me pretty damaged for a long time, much because a lot of the topics I discussed were Korea related and my ex was Korean and he encouraged me to start this site. Well, I have decided to take back what is mine again and remind myself that Learn With Amy is something I am passionate about. Over the time I have been gone, this site has received a crazy number of hits and I have received comments and messages about my previous posts and concern about my absence – I heard you all loud and clear, and I have rediscovered my love for blogging, so expect to hear more from me from now on!
Creating my own acting opportunities
I have realized that, because I am still in the process of building my “Happiness foundations”, I am more passionate about creating my own opportunities in acting than I am about seeking out other work. The rejection and stress of the seeking out work, matched with the crippling fear of letting someone down on a project they care about and the risk of tarnishing my name if I screw up still haunts me. I still get those unhappy “This is awful” feeling when I scroll through casting sites and, while some large opportunities have come my way” I get a shocking wave of melancholy and actual grumpiness when faced with pursuing a project. At the moment I am easing myself back into the acting pool by working on my own projects that I can share with the people I trust most. Some say that this “Director actor” tactic is cowardly or not really pursuing anything, but it really is helping me to rediscover my love of acting by just enjoying the process of creating (though screenwriting still makes me want to put a brick through my laptop)
Cooking, as you can tell from all the recipes I shared on this site, was a huge passion of mine which became really neglected when depression really was fighting hard. I am in no way an emotional eater, I have always been someone who can’t handle food when I get down. It’s weird and backwards and actually makes things way worse, but it’s how it is.
Since realizing how wrong I was going with nutrition, I have gotten back into using my passion for cooking to keep myself fueled and fit. I feel healthier, I feel happier and I get to go into the kitchen and play around with something I am passionate about.
Life for a long time seemed so empty and hopeless and there have been times where I wondered if this was just how life felt and I had to embrace it. I am nowhere near the end of my journey facing depression, anxiety and I still need a lot of work on my foundation and my building, but I am now in a place where I can enjoy the journey, as opposed to just wanting to be at my destination a different person with a different mind. I am satisfied with my progress and I will keep working to be happy and love who I am.
You are learning with Amy… And so am I!
I really hope you have enjoyed this. Please feel free to comment or send me a message using the message window below. Thank you for reading and I wish you luck with building your foundation! See you soon. X