Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It has enabled me to pick out the thread of my life from what felt like total chaos while I was so busy living it. I have started to look backwards now in a way I never used to. I have started looking back without the ache and the pain that a lot of memories can conjure, and in doing so I can begrudgingly say that a few things did turn out for the best, though at the time I thought they were the absolute end of the world.
I’ve also been able to see where I really did go wrong, and where that affected the course of my life. And I’ve been able to identify the times I did the right thing and made the right decision. I think it can be hard to pick the things that changed your life without focusing on the negative. Overall, - and this is by no means conclusive because everything is still being written - I have decided that I really do think these are the best things I have ever done…so far!
1. Go to drama classes
I was a very very shy teenager, and struggled to express myself. Having a speech problem that required regular visits with a speech therapist to overcome really didn’t help. I was often nervous and unable to hold a conversation with people. I found that people never understood me and every time someone asked me to repeat myself I died a little inside. One of the best things that I have ever done (if not THE best thing) is attend drama classes with the Helen O’Grady drama school program. It brought me out of myself in an amazing way, and taught me a confidence I didn’t think I had in me. My ability to interact with people and project something more than stifling nervousness was directly shaped by those drama classes.
2. Start a band
When I was in my first year of a liberal arts degree, I founded an electronic music duo called The Bright Young Things. This was a big step for me, and it was certainly something very new, as my music up until that point had been largely focused on punk rock and hardcore. Creating an entirely different kind of music pushed me to think very differently about songwriting and performance. And it also pushed me to collaborate in a way that I hadn’t really before. The guy I started the band with, AJ Dyce ended up becoming one of my best friends, and I’m now one of the Groomsmen in his upcoming wedding. That connection is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Some pretty cool stuff happened because of that band too. We did end up being signed to an independent record label, which enabled us to put out some music we really believed in, and we were played on national TV and on the radio. The other day, in a book shop, I even heard one of our singles played and it was such a great feeling. I learned a lot from being in that band. I learned how to deal with failure as well, when things sometimes just didn’t quite go right. No regrets there at all.
3. Leave my band
In the end, for a number of reasons, I did end up leaving the Bright Young Things. We parted on great terms though, and those guys still mean a lot to me. I believe in their music and I believe in the ability of their music to really touch some lives and get people moving. In the end, I guess my creativity led me in some very different directions. And having the courage to say you know what, that is just okay was really good for me. I was able to take a lot of the things I had learned from BYT and put them into new projects with a sense of enthusiasm and excitement. My work this year, while definitely not life changing for anyone is certainly stuff that I am happy doing. Stuff that inspires me.
4. Study my masters
I ended up going back to Uni at the encouragement of both my Mum and my girlfriend Emily. I took up studying a masters in media at Sydney’s University of Technology. Suddenly, I had a reason to get off my butt and get out of the house every single day, work on new things that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise and be pretty far out of my comfort zone. Suddenly, I was surrounded by other creative people that I collaborate with and bounce ideas off. I made some great friends as a result of which I am now working on a comic book a bunch of short films and a web series. I have edited scripts for some super talented writers and directors (I’ll share a bit more about one of those projects soon) and been able to really thrive.
5. Fall in and out of love.
I know. This one sounds pretty emo. But you know what? When I was young, I was a total emo kid. So I’ll own that. One of the best things I did was fall in and out of love for the first time. Because the fact is that when it happened it wasn’t that person’s fault any more than it was mine. I learned a lot of empathy through that, I learned how my actions and words can hurt other people, and I learned that I am not always the most important person in the world. I am not really proud of the way I was in that first long term relationship, but I am proud of who I have become in the years following it. It really showed me some things about myself that I think at the time I wasn’t really happy to see, about the way I interacted with people and the way I communicated. In showing me those things though, that experience taught me what I needed to change the most. Plus I think at least to some extent it introduced me to the importance of particular memories and moments.
Those are just the things I’ve thought of right now. I’m hopeful that this list will grow a lot over the next few years. I’ve written it down in a notebook and I’ve put that notebook on my shelf. I’ll read over it again maybe in a year’s time. And I shall write some new thoughts on it. I think life can be really tough. It can be heartbreaking. It can be full of some really difficult lessons and realizations. But I don’t think I’d have it any other way. No matter what I say during my Tom Waits listening sessions!