I’ve never really had just one dream. But there’s always been several things that I’ve loved to do: performing, reading, writing, exploring, music, analysing, asking questions. Always. Ever since I was a child. Along the way, as I’ve tried to navigate ‘adulthood’, I’ve often lost sight of these dreams and how happy engaging in them makes me. I guess as we get older dreams can simply pale into insignificance amid daily life and the responsibilities of rent, bills, relationships.

Along the way though, I have found that it harder and harder to quieten the voice that says: “If not now, then when?”

After all, as this beautifully eloquent quote says:

“That’s what life is for: dreaming and chasing that dream!” ― Avijeet Das

My Dream: Dreaming of Drama

In July 2019, I was gearing up to start drama school. I never ever thought I’d be writing those words. That I would finally listen to that gut instinct and truly follow what I love. That I would accept that it was me, it had always been me and how crazy it was to even try to suppress that. And how that me longed to perform. To be on stage. To play characters. To bounce off others and improvise. 

Okay, so it was a part-time foundation course that I was enrolling in. I hadn’t gone all out and dropped my ‘adulthood’ completely in its pursuit. But that signified a huge shift for me. It signalled that I was becoming more comfortable with listening to the things in life that made me happy. To follow my curiosity, be honest with myself, embrace my love of learning and unearth my creativity. 

So, in September 2019, I headed to Mountview Academy of Dramatic Arts for what was going to be an eight-month course of learning the foundations of acting, singing and dancing, culminating in a one-night showcase In April 2020. 

The first night I arrived I was brimming with equal bouts of frustration at how busy I’d made my schedule and the stress of trying to ‘fit in’ something I truly wanted to do; embarrassment and fear that I’d be one of the older crows there (as ridiculous as that is at 30 years old!); and nervous at the thought of meeting new people and engaging in the horrors of chit-chat. Billowing under all of these emotions though was excitement, happiness and curiosity. I knew I’d made the right decision. I’d followed my heart and my gut. 

On that first night, we didn’t start on the performance side of things. It was an introduction to the newly-built building, having transferred its roots from Wood Green to Peckham Rye in a multi-million-pound move. And it was the chance, over nibbles and wine, to meet the fellow theatre enthusiasts on my musical theatre course, and the other course mates we’d often see and work with, who were studying acting.  

It was platonic love at first sight. Having real, honest conversations from the off about chasing dreams, why we’d chosen now to come to drama school and what had led us there — I’d found my community. 

The thing about dreams

“Chase your dreams and your nightmares will grow tired of chasing you.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

I love this quote by the Zimbabwean-born and Canadian-based author, philosopher and entrepreneur, Matshona Dhliwayo. To me, it suggests that when our brain, our energy, our time is spent following our dreams, our honest authenticity simply drowns out the noise of our nightmares; the negative thoughts that can stop us from working out what our dreams are, let alone ever exploring them. 

The often all-consuming, oppressive and debilitating voice that tells us: “You’re not good enough! You’ll fail! What’s the point?!” You’re too old and past it! You’re too young and inexperienced!” “You’re too unlikeable!”. All so that we fall into a spiritual and emotional heap. So that we believe we may as well give up before we’ve even started.

And the scariest part: we can convince ourselves for a while that this is okay. We’ve made our peace with these choices. We dull that voice. Our gut instinct. That little flicker that calls us to listen. 

But I’ve come to realise that my dreams never do quite go away. That flicker intensifies. Especially in times when my mind is calm, quiet and I have the freedom and peace to think about my hopes, my goals and my future. I figured I could no longer suppress them. To prevent thoughts and feelings that I was not ready to hear, I’d stuff them down. Hoping they’d not pop up again. And when I did sense their emergence, I’d stuff them down again and repeat the cycle.

I guess I’d reached the stage where I figured I could listen to what that voice was saying, jump (or make small steps) out of my comfort zone and embrace failures and lacking self-worth to challenge them. Or I could continue stuffing. 

Fortunately, I went with my curiosity. And I’m so grateful and happy that I did. I’m trying to listen to that instinct, that voice more and more. 

As Benjamin Franklin once said: “Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.” Their dreams stay inside of them. Yes, if not now, then when? I’ve decided to answer, every time, with: “Now. Make a start.”

“If you chase anything in life chase the things that get you excited about living. Chase the things that give you hope, happiness and a glimpse of a better life. Chase the things that make you want to be a better person. Chase the things that inspire you to think, create and live joyfully. Chase the things that reinforce in your soul that you can make a difference. Chase the things that make you want to transform your heart from selfish to selfless. When you chase that kind of storm you are chasing rainbows.” ―  Shannon L. Alder