Lessons from a first year uni student

My first year of drama school finished about two weeks ago (yay me!) and I was just reflecting on the year. Overall, it was filled with so many new experiences and faces, challenges, laughter, really good banta, a few hurdles, a little bit of stress – good stress, albeit – and, of course, some important lessons on how to act. My degree is in acting after all!

Because I have gained and learned so much I thought I’d share some of the most important lessons from the past year as well as things I will be taking forward with me into the future.

 

  1. HAVE CLEAR, WELL-DEFINED GOALS.

This idea is quite straight-forward, and perhaps relatively obvious, but yet many people do not embrace it. In fact, more often than not, people lack clear objectives and do not set specific goals to be achieved during the course of their training, education or even their careers.

Studying means working pretty damn hard towards acquiring skills and knowledge that are specific to a particular industry. It takes up a lot of time, energy and money, and the pursuit of our studies can also demand other adjustments and sacrifices such as moving to a different city/country or forgoing a stable income, which inevitably has a large impact on our daily lives and our routine.

 

RCS ACTORS

End of year photo with 22/24 of the acting buds at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

 

Because the investment is so huge, it doesn’t make much sense to start the journey without properly planning where you might end up.

I mean, just think about it. Imagine taking a whole week off work for an exciting summer vacation. You are heading to the airport (feeling extremely happy) with your flip flops, bikini and sunglasses all packed only to realise that you haven’t even booked your destination… No lounging about on the beach for you then!

Perhaps that is one of the most devastating possible scenarios for an avid traveller like myself. But, nonetheless, you can see that the time spent packing, the week taken off work, the journey to the airport, etc., were all futile because there was no specific “end destination”.

Identifying precise goals, which are based on your strengths and weaknesses, ensures you can consistently challenge yourself and maintain a steady rate of progress; once you reach these goals you can set new ones too. How exciting!

Through this process you are able to develop your talents, work on your USPs (Unique Selling Points) and hopefully create a passion for a particular area of work within your field.

 

2. COURAGE IS EVERYTHING.

Courage is having the ability to face challenges, difficulties, new situations or environments, etc., without fear or doubt. In any industry, no matter how old you are or what positions you’ve held, courage will always be a vital skill to have.

Without courage we cannot experience true personal growth and self-satisfaction. Furthermore, a lack of courage means we limit our potential, and we consequently keep exciting opportunities and adventures at bay.

An actor’s experience is all about discovery. How can we discover anything fresh if we close ourselves off from new possibilities and shy away in the corner of the rehearsal room?

An actor needs to be open and courageous because, fundamentally, acting is a team sport. Therefore, winning performances are delivered when the actor has the courage to open up his emotions to an audience whilst working in harmony with his team onstage.

 

3. FOCUS ON YOUR OWN PERSONAL JOURNEY.

It is honestly a waste of time focussing on what others are doing and comparing your journey to theirs. Everyone is very unique in their own way, and it is important to remember that no one can ever replicate another, even if they tried with all their might.

When you compare yourself to other people you feed and encourage that little voice in your head to criticise and over-analyse everything you do. As a result, you are often left feel discouraged and apprehensive about your own capabilities.

Since the beginning of time no two lives have ever been lived in the exact same way – even identical twins are very different! Therefore, we must all continue on our own journeys with faith and assurance, knowing that we are unique and irreplaceable… *sings last line of Beyonce’s song*

 

4. ENJOY LIFE.

I absolutely believe in living life to the fullest and having a great work-life balance. In other words, it is just as important to enjoy the fruits of our labour as it is to put in work.

In retrospect, perhaps during the first semester, I think I could have found a more secure balance between training as an actor and enjoying my down time. It’s great to have the opportunity to truly relax and step away from all things acting.

That said, I have treated myself to two trips abroad in 2017, and some fantastic massages too, so I’d say that I’ve definitely learned my lesson since then!

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