On Friday the 21st of July 2017 I graduated from the University of the West of England with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama with First Class honours…and let me tell you…I am SO happy about it. All around people I love are achieving things too. Let’s talk about graduation and why it’s important to celebrate success…
A Bit of Context:
First things first, I never intended to do a drama degree. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an actor. The thought of performing on a stage as part of my job filled me with so much joy an excitement. Then I auditioned for Drama School. And everything changed. For those of you who might not know, Drama Schools feature high intensity courses making performers into triple threats, at least for the most part (making them into actors, singers and dancers) and creating world-class actors. Think Harry Potter actors – of course, not everyone gets to be THAT successful, well, practically nobody does, but you get the idea. I was fully committed to this for a good few years. I attended top notch acting classes, I had singing lessons and I took up ballet and tap in a desperate effort to be as much of a triple threat as possible. People were telling me time and time again that straight acting wasn’t for me and I never, ever had the guts to just admit it to myself and believe them. I saw people all around me getting recalls and offers and I got rejected instantly from every single school. I carried on, hoping and praying that someone at the schools would see the potential that I had tried so hard to conjure up in myself, that I truly believed, despite its non-existence, that it was there and everyone else was just failing to see it.
One day I thought to myself “but what IF I just did a straight Drama degree?” By this time, I had already fell out of love with the lifestyle of an actor. I craved a “settle down and earn money” type lifestyle rather than a “no idea where the next paycheck is coming from – sleeping on people’s sofas” type lifestyle. I googled it and there we go – my mind was made up and I got on with UCAS, I already had my A level grades so it was a simple yes or no. I was seeing people getting into Drama School and it was clear that it was just FOR them, fair enough they got rejections (everyone does) but they were having small successes. I knew, that if a Drama degree was for me, it would happen. After a couple of initial rejections (UCAS points *sigh* – that’s a whole other blog post) I applied for De Montfort, Uni of Chester and UWE – I got unconditional offers from all of them and I knew that this was the path for me.
So – three years, several nights out, what feels like an endless amount of essays and a whopper of a dissertation later – where am I? I plan to do a separate post on Drama degrees specifically but I can safely say that I am so much more self-aware than I was. I know how my mind works and where my strength and weaknesses lie. Most importantly, I caught the academic bug. I am SO not done with education. I have ideas of what MA I want to do, though these kinds of things change so frequently, but I have a thirst to learn as much as possible. I have learnt that my strength lies in academic writing and my passion lies in using drama to help people and creative writing. If you find out these things whilst doing a degree, you’re actually very lucky – a lot of people don’t. It wasn’t an easy ride though. It came from a lot of hard work from essays to rehearsals, a lot of reading and research, working a part time job and a fat load of extra curriculars to figure it out. And that’s just the thing…with a degree (particularly a creative one, imo), you have to put in what you want to get out of it.
So the magical day that is graduation rolled around and it was as wonderful as you could imagine. All that hard work had some down to that moment. I had a dress, I had my gown and mortar board, I was sat in my seat and all I had to do, was walk up and claps my hands and graduate. It was the most nerve wracking thing and a million things ran through my head. What if I fall over? What if the woman doesn’t say my name? Will my gown snag on the railings? We also had to work up the aisle of the beautiful Bristol cathedral. What if I went the wrong way? What if my ankle buckles beneath me like it so often does? But I made it and it was wonderful. The distant cheers from my course-mates and claps from the audience spurring me on, I barely even noticed I was wearing heels that ten minutes before, I could barely walk in. I had my special graduation jewellery on, waved at my parents as I walked up the aisle, I saw my favourite lecturers and best friends and I even managed to get my boyfriend a spare ticket. It was perfect.
A moment that stood out for me though was when a girl who no one really knew who I think studied journalism got her Doctorate. We all whooped and clapped for her and just felt the UWE pride, it was great and it was the most proud I have ever felt to be a UWE student (graduate now, Lord)- which was reinforced by the Chancellor’s speech.
I left feeling revitalised and ready to take on graduate life. But what about when everyone around you seems to be getting a break but you?
Why It’s Important To Celebrate Your Own and Other’s Success:
“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be persons greater or lesser than yourself.”
There have been people throughout university who have implied that I got the grade I got because of luck or because “I’m me.” (???) when really, it was a LOT of hard work and I have no shame in that. My course peers are achieving so many things from world-class MA courses to internships and I have absolutely zero job prospects…and that’s okay! (Until I need to pay rent, I’ll worry about that later).
It’s important to celebrate other people’s success because we’re all in the same boat. I do struggle with this myself sometimes and it’s easy to get jealous but I think eventually my time will come.
Or I hope so, anyway.
Thank you lovelies and happy reading! ox