Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Necessity For Sacrifice

I wake up most weekdays at around 5:30am. I stagger out of bed and trudge into the shower, turn it on, and hope it injects a boost of life into me which more often than not it does. I get dressed, creep back into the dark abyss that is my bedroom and feel around until I am greeted with the familiar carvings of my boyfriends face. I gently lean over him, give him a kiss, find our new puppy and give her a kiss, then leave whilst they continue to sleep blissfully unaware of the world around them.  

Once I have completed my day at Urdang, I return home around 8:30pm and use the hour and a half I have before bed time to eat, stretch and go over material from the day.
Then ground hog day occurs and the cycle repeats itself.

Now as you may or may not have noticed, there is limited amount of time in a day that I get to spend with my boyfriend whilst the both of us are conscious. We live together, but quite frankly due to his work schedule and my schedule at Urdang, it can become a challenge to see each other. Not only this, but a huge chunk of my social life has been given up. In all honesty I struggle to remember the last time I went out clubbing and let myself go. 

I can't help but wonder sometimes, will this sacrifice be worth it? 

When you respectively weigh up the sacrifices you make to achieve a job in the performing arts against the ever shrinking likelihood of success, it genuinely makes your heart sink at the prospect of it not working out. I think this is something that a lot of performing artists struggle with. 

I mean yes, we do it because we love to perform. We have a burning passion inside of us that is unable to be contained and the only way we know how to let it explode out of us is through performing. We work our minds, bodies and souls into the ground for the slightest glimpse of recognition from a teacher, let alone the paying public. 

So why is it that we appear to quite happily sacrifice time with our family, our loved ones, our friends, in fact so much in order to get what we want? 

I personally have a constant battle with this question and I am plagued by not really knowing the definitive answer. 

However, I think what I have come to realise is that personally, I am not happy that I have to sacrifice all the things that I noted above and the thought that I might have sacrificed all this time, money etc for nothing is soul-destroying. But it is a needs must. It's something that, no matter how much I hate giving such precious things a back seat as I drive towards my goal, it has to be done. 

Every single day I come to Urdang and train, I give thought and thanks to the people that are standing by me even though I am sacrificing so much time with them in order to get there. 

Before coming to Urdang, I was aware that to succeed means to sacrifice. However, I wasn't fully prepared for just how much sacrifice needs to be done in order for a slim chance at success. 

Commuting to London every day and being amongst the hundreds of thousands of people makes you have a harsh reality check of just what a small fish in a big pond you are. 

But, I'm a strong swimmer. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Coming Out As Straight

"On the whole, society is more comfortable seeing an image of two men holding guns than they are with the image of two men holding hands"

"So when did you come out?" 

One of the most common questions that is asked to homosexual individuals. 

"When did you announce you were straight?" 

Is never asked to any heterosexual individual. 


One thing that I think every homosexual individual struggles with is the idea of announcing or confirming that they are gay. Personally, I spent years of my life crippled under the weight of fear/embarrassment/the unknown because I was afraid to be proud of who I was.  Then there came a point of my life where I was sick of hiding, sick of pretending and sick of lying to everyone including myself, So i decided to come out. 

But what a waste. What a waste of many years of my life terrified of being something that I couldn't help. I  refuse to live with regrets in my life because I think to regret something is to only punish yourself. However I look back at that time of my life with pity. 

In some ways I pity myself because I hate the fact that I crumbled to the social pressure and did actually come out. I wish i didn't have too and I could've just lived my life as normal without this thing constantly weighing over my head. But more so pity for what society dictates to people. 

If society was more socially accepting of homosexuality, then we wouldn't be forced to come out. 

I think the whole idea of "coming out" is what is wrong with the world at the moment. When you look at the phrase "coming out the closet" it implies that someone is hiding away from the rest of the world and they finally find the courage to be who they were born to be. I think this is utterly ridiculous. 
Why is it that anybody should feel ashamed enough about the way they were born that they feel the need to hide it from everyone? 

Not only this, but why is it that straight people never have to "come out as straight". See even that concept seem ludicrous. So why is that almost expected of homosexuals? 

Something I admire in some gay people is when they say "I never came out because I was just myself and people knew". I wish I had been like this. Yes, so many people have said "we always knew" and that's great you can have a sticker for that, but I always knew you were straight and I never had to force that opinion on you. 

It frustrates me so much that we have to almost jump through a hoop like a show dog and bow down to what society dictates to us. 

You come out = You're gay. 
You don't come out = Everyone will assume something is off or wrong with you until they pluck up the courage to ask you and you either confirm of deny it. 

I just don't understand why as homosexuals we have to announce it.  Why do I have to come out? Why can't it just be accepted? If heterosexuals don't have to state what they are, why should I? 

And don't get me wrong, I understand there is still a lot of complications around the view of homosexuality in the world and in peoples homes. Which is part of the reason why people are ashamed of it. But I just think it is disgusting that we live in a world where a certain fraction of our society have to announce something they can't change.

You don't have a "coming out as white/black/mixed race/Japanese/Chinese/Spanish/French" stage.
You don't "come out as being blonde haired"
You don't "come out as being 6 feet tall" 
And most certainly you never "come out as being straight"

Because all of these things, are traits people are born with, traits that are unchangeable. 

Which is the same for homosexuality.
So why do we have to come out? 

The sooner society accepts it as a "norm" the sooner this fa├žade of coming out will be eradicated.


Monday, 17 November 2014

MTV EMA's - What it means to feel alive

There are a few moments in life where you have to close your eyes, fill your lungs with air and then release the breath back into the universe. You open your eyes and awake to the beauty that is your surroundings. You take a few brief moments to be fully enveloped by everything, the sights, sounds, smells, people you might be sharing these moments with and you are greeted with an over-whelming realisation that this is what it means to be alive. 

These blissful moments of feeling what it means to be alive in this universe came to me several times recently. 

Flashback to 4am on a Saturday morning. My alarm rings and I am torn from the depths of my dreams to be greeted by a darkness that has secluded me whilst I slept peacefully. I fumble around this darkness, barely able to see whilst simultaneously rubbing my eyes to tend to their stinging and reach for the only source of light in the room, my phone. Which I proceed to use like it is a completely foreign object in an attempt to turn my alarm off. Once that monumentous task had been achieved, I proceeded to get out of my bed and face the day. 

Some time had passed and I was dressed, fed and watered and in a car with my mum discussing life, as we journeyed towards the airport. These types of talks are fairly frequent between the two of us and I hold them dear to my heart. 

Walking through the airport, I am greeted by numerous facebook messages from Katie (Scarphelia) expressing her distaste towards this hour of the day. We knock back a coffee, bid farewell and thank you to my mum, then proceed to go through security to the departure lounge together. 

After plane journey that was as fleeting as it was uncomfortable, we landed with a heart-pounding thud on the runway of Glasgow International airport. With smoke from the tires that were screeching for a grip of stability on the runway, we glanced at each other with a mutual acknowledged feeling of 
"Shit we're going to die". 
Eventually the plane stopped and over the tannoy system, the most absurd pre-recorded little celebratory ringtone played for our enjoyment. 

With a deep sigh, we got off the plane and were greeted by a group of around twenty teenage girls and some paparazzi. Neither of whom were there for us and the look of almost disgust on their faces that we were of celebrity status was in a strange way heart-warming. 

Stumbling on and off a shuttle bus to glasgow city centre, overcome with exhaustion we trudged on, cases in hand, towards our accomodation. 

This is where my first moment of feeling alive came. 

We had last minute booked a room via Air B&B. And to say we struck gold, is a complete understatement. 
We were greeted by our host Bill. A well-spoken, well-mannered, kind hearted and extremely caring man, Who showed us up to our room. 

Our jaws hit the floor.
I don't think I need to necessarily describe why, just take a look. 

Mouths agape, we were shown around this absolutely exquisite appartment. Me and Katie had a few moments whilst being shown around, where we either hit each other subtly in excitment, or caught eyes and widened them with sheer admiration for where we were. 

We were then introduced to Bills wife, Ev a woman of equal standing to Bill when it came what an amazing person she was. Who proceeded to make us a cup of tea and just have a chat about our lives. 

These two strangers almost became parents and friends to us in a matter of hours. They were two of the most interesting, astonishing, loving people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life.  There a few people who you meet and instantly make an impact on your lives that you will treasure forever, Bill and Ev acheived this. So not only were we staying in the most ridiculosuly gorgeous flat, but it was occupied by two people who echoed it's beauty. 

They left us to unpack, and instantly myself and Katie silently went out to the balcony and had that moment. 

Just look where we are. 
Just look. 

We were on the twelfth floor which had a pictoresque view of Glasgow. It was like we had jumped into a picture from a luxury brochure. 

This was the first moment. 

Our hearts are always beating, it's what keeps us alive, but have you ever felt your heart beating? 
Have you ever had a sudden appreciation that you are alive in this moment?
Have you ever suddenly had an epiphany that, we are in this ever expanding universe filled with mind numbing amounts of things discovered and potentially undiscovered and you are living in it? 
we tend to go through the motions of life alive but not living, and it is not until you get these moments where you take a step back and appreciate what it means to be alive that you truly appreciate life. 

I know it's strange, all we did was get lucky and book a really nice room. But it was more than that. It was the view. It was Bill and Ev. It was the feelings the gave us. It was being there with Katie. 

It was the reason we had booked this room. 

That evening, we were attending the MTV European Music Awards. Katie had been invited and once again, she had invited me to come with her. 

We spent as much time as we could in that appartment, so much in fact that we had to rush to pick up our tickets from an MTV representative of the "Someone Like Me" campaign, then rush back and fall into our outfits for the evening. 

Even as we approached The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, up until we were in the building, it all still seemed too good to be true. 

A quick interview with the "Someone Like Me" campaign, was the first thing we did. As thanks, they gave us some free lube, which...well.. you never know when you might need it. 

We were shown to our seats by a steward, and as we ascending some stairs upon approaching our seats, the second moment hit me. 

There was a beam of light that was just pertruding over a barrier, and the further we climbed up these stairs, the more blinding it became. We reached the peak, let our eyes adjust and were suddenly greeted by another breathtaking view. This time of the MTV EMA stage. 

The crowds were surging in, the atmosphere was electrifying, the lights were spectacular, and we were there. Basking in all it's glory. 

I didn't know what to do with myself. I was speechless. It was absolutely...just...I..I just can't put into words what it was like. The goosebumps I had were so alive that I felt like I was vibrating and almost flying. 

It's a feeling and an experience I will take to the grave. Nothing compares to the feeling of being alive and when it comes, you have to embrace it for all it is worth. 

All throughout the show, i'd take several moments to just look around. Not just look around and see everything, but truly look around and like a sponge just soak up every single bit I could. Doing this was the fuel to my fire of feeling alive. 

The show finished with a spectacular  pyrotechnic display as a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne was performed by Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. 

The last light of a fireworks flame died out and just like that it was over. 
There something beautiful and tragic in the comedown of feeling alive. 
You're sad it's over but the experience of it happening is more than enough to keep you satisfied until next time. 

We got back to our room after attempting to get into several after parties which was hilariously unsuccessful. We spoke about the evening and our lives, and drifted off into a most welcome, most inticing, most needed deep sleep. 

My alarm went off. 4am. I woke up, got ready and left Katie there as I strolled around Glasgow city centre to get the return shuttle bus.
I fell asleep on the plane, I woke up and we were in the air. I fell asleep again, I woke up as we landed at Stansted. I hopped on a train to London Liverpool Street, then a tube to Farringdon, and raced through the streets towards Urdang. I changed and made it for my first lesson and completed a full day there.

If anyone says im not dedicated enough to achieving my dream, I would strongly beg to differ.

Attending the MTV EMA's was incredible. But what I will hold closest to my heart about the whole experience is how Katie provided me with an opportunity to not only attend one of the greatest shows on earth, but to feel alive. 

There have been several moments in my life where I have felt this. I just think it's incredible that someone who I hold so dear to me, provided a platform for me to feel it again simply out of the kindness of her heart. 

We last minute hopped on a plane to Glasgow. 
We met two of the most phenomenal people on this earth.
We stayed in the most exquisite appartment. 
We attended the MTV EMA's.

We felt alive.  


Thursday, 13 November 2014

5,6,7, Weight

Possibly one of the hardest subjects to tackle in the dance world and pretty much in everyday life, is weight. 

Weight is something that as a race, us humans as transfixed on. It's something that some individuals battle against every single day of their lives, it's something that we can  let consume our thoughts, and it's something that I have a very large problem with. 

In the dance world, and the world in general, there seems to be this strange attitude towards a persons weight. Regardless of what anybody says to you, we have all been guilty of judging someone, or quite frankly even ourselves, against the standard of "beauty" that is shoved in our faces in a day-to-day basis. 

Something that I battled with when I was of a larger build, was the constant feeling of being less worthy, less attractive, less likely to succeed, and a whole adundance of other negative things because of my size. It doesn't take a genius to tell you that the dance world and performing arts industry is an absolute breeding ground for not only these thoughts, but other thoughts that fester in the mind and can cause serious detrimental effects such as eating disorders. 

I'm not going to lie. There have been countless times where I have felt
 "too fat to be a dancer"

"too big to succeed"

"no-one will cast you because you're fat"

And each time I have thought this, more often than not I have to give my mind a metaphorical slap round the face and force myself to get out of these places. 

I began to question why it is myself, and many others around me in and out of the performing arts world, feel this way? 

The answer is the images we are forced to see. Like I mentioned earlier we are constantly exposed to images of people who seem to rarely be of a larger build. I personally think, weight means nothing when it comes to a persons beauty. 

What we need to differentiate is, firstly, these images have most probably been photoshopped so much that all natural beauty of the person photographed has more than likely gone. 

And secondly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What might seem appealing to you, may not be to someone else. Thirdly and finally, the link we seem to make with these images, is beauty = being thin. 

This is where we are wrong. 

And this is where something needs to change.

I have been on incredible journey of self-discovery through my battle with my weight. It has made me do things I never thought I was capable of, It has made me look at the world in a different way, It has made me appreciate inner beauty and it has made me realise how little a persons size actually means. 

My journey started in college, back in 2010. Most would say I went to college as a confident person, which I was, or so the facade I put on would've fooled you to think I was. In reality, I was struggling deeply with insecurities about my sexuality and about my body image. 

I began my weight loss battle by simply making a bet with someone that I could give up eating bread for lent. Im not particularly religious, I just enjoy a challenge. 40 days and 40 nights passed, and my waistline began to decrease. I want to point out here that I was also engaging in regular excercises and eating healthily too. 

From then onwards, the process of weight loss began to take a hold of me. The more I lost, the better I felt. The more people complimented me, the better I felt. It was all reinforcing that what I was doing, was working. 

However, this reinforcement was not entirely positive. I began to become somewhat obsessed by "how thin I looked". I felt a crippling responsibility to keep becoming thinner and thinner because I was terrified of what people might think of me if I were to put weight back on. I didn't want to do all this hard work and then let it slip because I wasn't determined enough. It became a real issue. 

It became something that consumed my every waking thought. 
All I could think was:
 "oh you can't eat because you'll be fat" 
which in heindsight I can say is ridiculous but at the time it all seemed perfectly logical to me. 

Something that is extremely difficult when it comes to drastic weight loss, is the ability to be able to look in the mirror and accept yourself for who you are now and not who you were. If i'm honest, I think this was the thing that I struggled with the most. My weight loss happened very suddenly and to be able to look into the mirror and see that I had literally shed my old body into this new form of myself, was difficult to comprehend.
 I used to look in the mirror and literally see my old self, a person who no longer existed. 

I think this was the root of my problem. I needed to just accept my new self. It sounds ridiculous, but it's kind of like when you dye your hair and you can't recognise yourself in the mirror. It's the most irritating and fascinating concept. My boyfriend used to say that I was looking into a circus mirror and that I was seeing an exaggerated version of myself that didn't exist. I guess he was right.

Fighting that and being able to accept this new body was as hard as openly admitting my sexuality for the first time. I still to this day sometimes don't recognise myself and see old Harry in the mirror. 
But it's all in my mind.
 Deep down, I know I have evolved into my true form and I am happy.

Since starting at urdang however, weirdly being in an environment which is stereotypically known to be one of the places where eating disorders are most common, I have felt the most comfortable.

I think what I have come to understand, is how sick I am of fighting this battle. 

I'm sick of feeling less able because of my pereception of myself. I'm sick of feeling like I can't enjoy life and food because of my warped sense of myself. I'm sick of feeling restricted by my own mind. 

I refuse to let myself be defined by my weight. I will not be classified as just "skinny" when I am a human being made up of an extensive range of other things. 

The most important bit of advice I can give to anyone who is either going through this journey, or is thinking about starting it, is to only lose weight for yourself. 

What you need to realise is beauty isn't what is on the outside, it truly is what is on the inside. You could be the most perfect looking apple, but if you're rotten on the inside, no-one will want to take a second bite. 

"You don't need to explain to anybody why your body is the way it is. Your body is your body and that is all the justification you need"

Never lose weight for anybody else, lose it for yourself and only yourself. If you want to change your body because deep down, you aren't happy, then that is okay. But don't change because of what anyone else might think of you. You are in charge of your body, nobody else is. 

I began my weight loss journey on this path, but I unfortunately made the fatal mistake of caring about what others thought about my appearance. 

Don't let anyone dictate to you how you should look. You are the captain of your own ship and no-one can tell you how to steer it to it's destination.

Embrace your body.

Embrace your size.

Make a change if you aren't comfortable, but only do it for yourself.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Making what you love is more important than anything else.

It's no secret that blogging, Vlogging, Youtubing etc have become some of the most up and coming popular hobbies and businesses on the internet. 

But with an ever growing, increasingly saturated market much like most other industries is it possible to be original anymore? Is it possible to even compete with the elites of the blogging community? 

I started my blog, simply because I was beginning a new chapter in my life and I had recently discovered a passion I had for writing. So it made sense to put the two together and document my journey into the performing arts industry and also use my blog as a platform to inspire others. Be it into a debate, a conversation, to look at things a little differently or simply just to entertain them.  I didn't start this blog with any intention for it to become something other than a hobby/diary of my life and thoughts.

As I have continued to write my blog, I must admit it is difficult to not get fully enveloped into the world of blogging. 

For example, keeping an eye on the amount of hits your blog/posts is getting, sharing it on every social media website you are part of, communicating with other bloggers, constantly thinking "what shall I write about next?".

I don't feel like I have succumbed to this completely, as like I say all the time, ultimately blogging is not the thing I want to do. Obviously if something were to come of it, because I have a passion in writing, I wouldn't shy away from it. But that isn't what i'm setting out to achieve and it is difficult to not get fully swallowed up into this world. 

But the problem with blogging at the moment is that there are so many people all doing relatively the same thing that this online world is getting so overcrowded with much of the same content. When you stop to look at just how many fashion blogs their are, it's is mind-boggling.

You have to question though, do people just blog about fashion because they know it's an easy market to get hits? It's such a popular section of the blogging community, that it is easy to emulate the success of others by simply following what they have done.

I'm not going to lie, i'm a sucker for a fashion blog. I love keeping up-to-date with what people are wearing and I enjoy seeing a whole range of people's individual styles. And honestly, fashion blogs work. It is something that is easily changeable, easy to write about and companies will pay you to advertise their products. Also because it such a popular are of the blogging community, like I said it is incredibly easy to get hits. In my opinion, the problem is that people see the success that others are having from their fashion blogs, and instead of thinking "How can I be different?" more often than not it's "How can I be as successful as them?". And so ultimately, most tend to copy much of the same content they see in the hope that is happens to them.

But with an already oversaturated market, is it even possible to be original anymore? Is it possible to create a blog that will not only be successful, but will also be noticed for it's uniqueness and flair?

Yes, it is. 
And no, there isn't a difficult, intricate answer to this question. 

The best way to make your blog stand out from everyone else's, is to just write from your heart.

But what if everybody just writes from the heart?

No two people on this earth are the same. Yes you might have a similar blog, but if you are writing from a place of passion and love for what you are writing about, you are going to be unique. 

If there is one bit of advice I would give to someone starting out (and don't get me wrong, i'm not blogging mastermind,  i'm still starting out, this is just something I have come to realise early on) it would be to write for yourself. Don't get bogged down in the "oh it's been a week I haven't written anything". If you don't have anything to say, don't write. If you are forcing material out, you're not writing from the heart and ultimately you will just blend into the mass sea of bloggers out there. 

One thing that I pride myself on doing, is only writing when I have something to say and when it comes from the heart. I don't write for my audience, I write for myself.

Another very important thing, is to not read too much.
I know we all like to read as many blog posts as we can because we're taking an interest in this world and it's nice to see what others are doing. But the less you read, the less you are likely to be influenced and/or tempted to emulate what somebody else is doing. 

Is it possible to compete with the elites of the blogging community?

Yes, it is.

How do you think they became so successful? They wrote from the heart. If you do the same, you are bound to be successful. And anyways, me using the word "compete" is completely wrong because blogging shouldn't be a competition. It should be a place where we can all celebrate each others passions and interests whilst simultaneously feeling welcomed in expressing our own. I know in reality, it is a competition. Much like the performing arts industry, everyone is competing against everyone else to be noticed. 

But ultimately, so long as you are writing from the heart and from a place of passion, you will be okay. You should also take some time to support other people on their journey's so that hopefully the support will be reciprocated in some way. This community depends on the kindness of others, so why not take that step and give a little bit of support to someone else. The same applies to the performing arts. We're all fully aware just how competitive the market is and we have to be brutal enough to leave friendship out of an audition room. But there is no shame in having friendships and supporting one another on the journey outside of the audition room.

The best way to be original is to be yourself.
The best way to be interesting, is to be yourself.
The best way to have a blog you are proud of, is to be yourself.

Being yourself and making what you love is more important than anything else.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

Seven Week Pitstop

Seven weeks. 

I have been at Urdang for seven weeks. 

It is absolutely mind-boggling that this amount of time has passed and I have been living and breathing my passion every single weekday for seven whole weeks. 

These weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. With some days where I have felt so proud of myself and my friends there of all the progress we are making, to others where I have literally sat in a hot bubble bath weeping because of the crippling disease called "Self-Doubt". I have ached in places I didn't even know existed on my body and I have fallen asleep at some point on most of my daily commutes. 

I have been physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I have felt weak, dizzy, drained, dehydrated, frustrated, ecstatic, every single emotion - you name it I have probably felt it. 

But I'll tell you what, that fire inside is still furiously burning. Infact probably even more so now. The fire to better myself, be more flexible, fitter, jump higher, land softer, have better technique - literally everything! The passion I have to succeed is more ferocious than ever.

However it has come to the point where a much needed week off from college has come around. The majority of us are just overwhelmingly exhausted and we are crying out for some rest. 

I may have rested this past week. But i'm coming back fighting. 

Fighting to improve even more. 

Fighting to get to where I want to be. 

The training might be on hold for a week. 

But the passion to succeed will never rest. 

And neither will I until I get there.