It’s 8.36am , and I’m writing a blog post because I have time to kill before I go to work. I have had a shower, I’m dressed, I’ve had a cup of sweet tea and eaten a breakfast of avocado and tomato on toast. I’m listening to the sweet sounds of Talking Heads. I have been up for two hours.
Mornings like this make me hate myself a little bit.
I was going to do a blog post last night, one that I’d written on the train on Sunday, but then I realised I’d left my notebook in the theatre and I got all annoyed. So this one might not make much sense.
This blog post is about self care.
I am getting better at looking after myself. At least, I think I am. I seem to be developing a routine based around what doesn’t make me feel like shit and I feel a lot better because of it. But I am well aware that this will not last. I am ignoring a couple of things that I have to do pretty soon, and I know that in a day or so I will be lay in bed and my brain will send me into full on panic stress mode because I haven’t kept up to date with the million projects I decided to take on at once. But for now, I am looking after myself.
Self-care is something I only discovered recently. I think that in the arts – speaking mainly about theatre because that’s where I am – people don’t look after themselves.. There is a cult of overworking. Every conversation revolves around your work – what are you working on at the minute? What’ve you been up to with your work? Have you got anything else lined up? And quite often we hang out with other theatre folk or arts folk or people who do more than one job or have a committed hobby and so their answers ping into our brains like a pinball machine of inspiration and panic and suddenly we’re focussing on the fact we’re not doing enough, no matter how much we’re doing.
Taking time out is hard. When you finish a project, you want the next one to be lined up. There’s no reliability to our work. We have to work extra hard now, we have to take on three times the amount of stuff we have time for right now, because we might not get work for the next four months. I think there’s definitely a failure thing there as well. I think the point where you stop being an emerging artist is when you no longer have the fear of getting stuck being a barista forever. I don’t know. I’ve never not been emerging.
Emerging is a stupid term. Emerging artists. What about just artists? What are we emerging from? Behind our parents’ aprons, faces covered in chocolate. Behind the giant triangular silver doors: “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be…” Under the ground like a mole, unseeing and shovelling dirt. From the chrysalis of a zero-hour contract, enduring being treated like shit and paid next to nothing because you know – you know – that it’s just temporary and one day you can spread your wings and become the fucking majestic theatrical butterfly you always wanted to be.
Self care is difficult when everything is telling you to doubt yourself, when being proud of yourself is vanity, when taking time off means you’re slipping backwards, where finding time for yourself is selfish. But it’s okay, gang. Self care is important. Self care is essential. Self care is a radical act when capitalism relies on your self-hatred. Self care is cool and desirable and clever and doable and fucking sexy. But this might just be morning Geraghty talking. I haven’t looked at the news yet. I haven’t had to speak to anyone yet. I might hate everyone and everything by the time I get to work.
Have a beautiful day, because you deserve it.
Geraghty out. x.