'You see, I was always seeking something, an opening, a canyon, a crumbling away, all I wanted was to be free, from me, and it was that sacred vine which led me to that gold mine of a country. It was that which led me, full on like a raging bull through the depths of my soul and far beyond all other accomplishments. As the saying goes, a bull in a china shop; that is what I was doing, but through my own psyche. I only know that now. You see I had thought; "That’s enough, that’s enough, I have had it here in the little, cramped, stifling shop of china which could break at any second. If it’s going to gradually break the smaller my world becomes, the more dizzy and confused I become, and the more china put in that bloody shop, I shall have a mad adventure of it and smash it all up of my own free will; that is what I will do", and I spun like a wild, dosed up deer and I broke it all, leaving a few remnants flying in the air and much to be trampled underfoot." (Carly Tennant. South American Travel Memoirs).
At the age of 23 I travelled to Argentina with the intention of learning Spanish and taking a TEFL course. I ended up scrapping my plans and after two months of Spanish school in Buenos Aires set off to explore the rest of the continent on a minuscule budget. I stayed with natives throughout my whole trip, mainly via the site 'Couch Surfing', avoiding other tourists as much as possible. This took me down avenues I never knew existed, allowing me entrance in to individual's intimate worlds, and a unique perspective on South American culture.
Through travelling around varying landscapes, climates, communities, multidimensional realities, and places of great danger and beauty, I took an adventure around my own psyche, and came back stronger, wiser, and a little mad. Ten months of mess; experiencing new challenges every day; getting lost, fearing I'd be murdered or worse, shaming and embarrassing myself on many occasions, feeling ill, fatigued, so lonely, and then those times of complete peace, rest, abundance, ecstasy, inspiration, awe and wonder. This trip and the many trips within it was the catalyst for a whole cleansing and healing journey which would unfold over the the next eight and a half years. My god, it has been a long road, but I know that if I hadn't embraced my internal mess and spun around the china shop of my mind like a 'dosed up deer' back when I didn't know what else to do, I would not be where I am today.
My acting coach taught me that change can come as evolution or revolution; sometimes the process can be gradual and frustratingly slow and other times it's unbearable, and feels like your body is bursting out of it's skin. With growth comes mess, just as the infant's umbilical cord is cut from the womb, adult teeth painfully thrust though gums, voices strain and squeak under pressure, at times of change there is a birthing process which can be ugly, frightening, messy, but so rich and beautiful. The process of change is terrifying. It feels much safer to be in the comfort of our own habitual patterns, which although can inevitably lead us up to the path of self sabotage and repeated trauma, at least we expect it and it is strangely comforting to have our expectations met again and again. But to challenge this expectation and accept that something good may actually happen and that we are capable of change, in my opinion is one of the bravest things a human can do. Yes it may lead to abject failure, shame, and grief, but a part of you would have grown and evolved from the experience, and the next time you take a risk you may just succeed.
I decided to start singing just over a year ago and went straight in to one of the hardest genres of all- jazz. Despite having been on stage numerous times as an actress, the idea of singing in public absolutely terrified me and felt like a whole new challenge. I did my first Jazz jam in Berlin, where I got up on stage quivering in my box, couldn't even finish the song because I didn't know how, and I knew it was utter shite, but when I walked down from that stage all I felt was immense pride that I had conquered my fear. My next jam in London the following month was much easier, and although the past year has been up and down and I have been through moments of all consuming shame where I have just wanted to run out of the venue or die, I now no longer fear judgement. Now, when I listen back to a recording and realise I sounded like a lost cat, I can actually laugh at myself and the ridiculousness of the situation, and really honour myself for trying. This feeling is so LIBERATING!
So my advice is, take the risk and let the mess happen! Do the thing which terrifies you the most and allow yourself to fail, experience that shame. Because the more you experience it, the more you can let it go and realise that you're not failing at all, but growing, and no-one can laugh at that. Growth is a fact of life, when we stop, we die. Live past your fears and excel your perceptions of what you can do, because I can guarantee that if you want something to happen enough, you will find a way.