EXT. DAY: A PLAYGROUND A SMALL GIRL is standing, baffled yet intrigued, by the behaviour of those around her. Whether they’re happy. If strange unconscious forces are at play. What it all means. Her curiosity is piqued…
Everyone has an origins story at the heart of what inspires them.
For me, ever since I was a kid, I’ve wondered why people do the things they do. But like any good introvert I didn’t think to actually ask them. Don’t be so DAFT.
So I did what lots of sensitive, introverted, ‘weird’ kids do; I used my imagination. I daydreamed. I spaced out. I had conversations in my head (look, I SAID I was a weird kid) and, at the age of ten, I started to write short stories.
(To be honest, I blame my English teacher Mr Jones for that one. There’s nothing like having a grown man crying with laughter whilst reading your story to the whole class to make a kid think, “Holy SHIT this writing lark is AMAZING” (yes, I would have used the word shit. If you’ve met me in person, it’ll be of no surprise to you whatsoever that I started swearing so damn early).)
Through theatre writing workshops and a return to education I found myself writing (and occasionally directing) short videos. Still curious about why people do the things they do. No clue about the actual reasons for it (either with myself or with others).
And then, as so often happens in life, shit happened. Screenwriters call it Act Two; when the protagonist feels lost, tries to avoid doing The Very Difficult Thing They Need To Do, and suffers until they do The Very Difficult Thing They Need To Do. And I needed to uncover my inner stories, understand and heal them, and discover how to connect more with myself and others.
But God, it was hard. When my second act hit it wouldn’t stop hitting; a collapse into ME/Chronic Fatigue, a free-fall into social isolation, and the loss of identity, love, friends, home, meaning and, frankly, my mind.
(I can still remember lying on my sofa one November afternoon, watching the sky slowly turn to dusk hour by hour. There, amidst the wreckage of my previous life, adrift with neither map nor compass, I knew that if my next breath were my last, no-one would find me. Fun times.)
On the plus side, being utterly incapacitated, socially isolated and physically unable to do anything to distract yourself is a really efficient way to ensure you sit with yourself.
Losing everything gave me the time and space (and the internet) to finally answer that life-long question directly: why DO people do the things they do? More urgently: Why do I do the things I do?
They say we change for two reasons; one we learn enough to want to, and two, it hurts too much NOT to. Guess where I found myself.
It took years for me to make it out of the forest, but make it out I did. It took self-forgiveness, taking risks, running experiments, finding my stories, making new friendships, kindling old passions, owning what it means to be Highly Sensitive (HSP) and an introvert, practising a holy trinity of self-compassion, EFT and gratitude, getting back on my spiritual path and, ultimately, connecting a LOT of dots.
Life’s still no rose garden but I feel incredibly grateful, especially when I get elbow-deep into what it means to be a spiritual being having an all-too-human experience.
I’m now in Act Three (hero returns from a shitty time fighting/taming/rehoming demons and dragons, a bit older and bit knackered but ultimately wiser. Or something).
I find joy in the little things again, and nothing makes me happier than messing about and being creative – be it with words and making funnies (like I said, Mr Jones has a LOT to answer for), with my hands (designing and sewing clothes is a passion), or with ideas.
But what I love most is holding space with other smart, sensitive individuals to help them connect more with themselves and others.
How do you create space for more connection in your life?
Writing & Production credits
Over the years I’ve been shortlisted by Channel 4, the BBC and Questor’s Theatre and, more recently, have sub-edited/written copy/ghost blogged for dating websites, and penned opinion pieces for The Independent. Click here for the back-catalogue.