Take your time.
I can remember my inner workings at the age of 19. Believe me, they were not good.
I actually don’t think that anyone’s inner workings are that great at 19. It’s all lack of caution and gnawing self doubt, together with, in my casse some secrets I would keep hidden from myself until fifteen years later.
I had decided at 18, to follow a career plan I had devised for myself. Stand up comedy then radio then TV presenting.
I know that even from the very beginning, I realised that it wasn’t to be.
My idols were (still are) Jack Dee and Graeme Garden – they seemed to just have the hang of it. So imbued with good ideas.
Cleverness just falls out of them.
The sad new was that in my case I was seemingly imbued with a chronic case of no discernible talent.
Part of this was down to nerves.
When I didn’t drink, I would be crippled with nerves. When I did drink, the problem would worsen as I fought to overcome both the nerves and the nauseating fogginess.
Sometimes I could come up with something great – usually ad-libbed….
Most nights, the only things falling out of me were ridiculous stammers and tears of frustration that I couldn’t be good enough to join the ranks of my heroes.
Cue sad music….and rain.
I enjoyed being part of the gang – seemingly blasé about it all – but all hiding towering neuroses and harrowing back-stories behind their fragile veneers of cool despondence.
I met a lot of people whose work I loved and could have recited. It was the golden age of the rock-star stand up.
A lot of people – granted, those who don’t know me that well – want me to go back into it. There’s a certain incredulity that I’m not part of it and have no desire to be.
The thing is that it wasn’t my calling. I wouldn’t do it forever for free.
In the (slightly mangled) fine and beautiful words of the fine and beautiful Frankie Boyle, “Loving comedy and becoming a stand up comedian is the same as loving burgers and becoming a cow.”
It ate me up. It took the joy of watching stand up away from me.
I got to see a lot more sets – at very least 100 in a year – but while I was watching, I wasn’t being entertained. I was making notes on presentation and pace. It was research.
It was a job.
It took my world being shaken up and dumped on the ground for me to eventually find my calling. I am a designer and I wake up every morning loving that realisation.
It will take time. If you can, give it to yourself – and take some dumb jobs to pay the rent. You will need those. But don’t give up before you both discover and grant yourself your calling.
Don’t allow the decisions that your crazy-daisy 19 year old self thought were great dictate your every step from here on in. Regain control!
It makes life worth living. I promise.
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