I am a chronic over planner. Not in that everything is meticulously planned (I’m also a huge ‘off the cuff-er’!) but in that we often find ourselves with weeks without any spare nights, or lunch breaks, or time for tea (scratch that, there’s always ways for tea to be incorporated!).
So at any given time, somebody we really care about is in a show, somebody we care about is playing a gig, and someone we care about is celebrating a birthday. The fantastic thing about mixing business with pleasure is that it creates a huge group of amazing diverse people that we mix with, the problem with mixing business with pleasure is that, for example, we would dearly love to go and watch Urinetown with people we know involved, but it’s people we know from working in St Ives…who live in Glasgow, which is where the show is on!
And whether it’s someone we know socially or someone we’ve worked with, we genuinely want to see everyone in what they’re doing. The only two problems are time and money! So at the moment, one friend is doing scare tours at Kenilworth Castle, one is in a production of Henry V in Birmingham, the aforementioned friends are involved in Urinetown in Glasgow, a childhood friend is playing gigs in town, another is in a show at The Globe, another is opening a new show in Worcester, another is performing throughout the Cotswolds, we’re involved with a show in Bath, two in London, two in Cheltenham and another touring the UK. (I’ve probably missed a few out, apologies if I have!) At the same time, a close friend has a Christening today, a family member is starting to do new type of dance classes, it’s my brothers birthday in a couple of days, and there’s some other stuff going on that we’re on ‘last minute head over to’ if needed. The list could go on, and it’s the same for lots of people, especially a lot of the people in a similar line or type of work. We all work hard, build connections with people we work with, and want to support each other as much as we can. The truth is, we just can’t do it all, and it’s a skill in itself being honest about that to ourselves!
The reasons for making one show and not another is most usually just circumstance, whether we have that night off, what our finances look like that week, geography (we really can’t often go all the way to Glasgow as much as we always want to!).
To be honest, the answer to the ‘how are you’ question to most people we know is, ‘good, busy.’ That response is the international phrase for, ‘I have a million and one things to do, and several difficult things in my life but I don’t have time to talk about it, let alone get on top of it.’ We’re all doing our best duck impression, (and I don’t mean pouting!) gliding along the surface, but paddling like mad underneath to keep afloat.
And we all want to make sure we’re there for our nearest and dearest, so if one friend is in a show an hour away, and another is an hour away and going through a hard time, we’re all likely to choose to post a ‘well done’ on the first persons wall, and head round to the second friends with a cuddle and a bottle of something. And hopefully all our close friends know that whatever’s happening, if they need to come round for a cuddle, it’s more important than whatever else is going on, even if we might need a cuddle back. That stuffs really important, and vital to remain sane!
This week, we were hosting a Halloween party at ours. But we put it in the diary a few months ago, when that week was otherwise empty. It got full, really full, with professional matters AND personal matters. All of a sudden, there was no one overbearing reason to cancel, but we realised we couldn’t really manage it. I have an inner ear infection at the moment, not big, just enough to make me feel a bit dizzy! A family member has been poorly, and we wanted to be on hand in case we were needed. We didn’t have any days off this week, so we were both tired and a bit drained. So we cancelled. No main reason, just…we’re not doing it now we’re sorry. I worried ALL day the day we cancelled that people would be angry or annoyed, because, after all, there was no ‘real excuse’ to cancel.
HOWEVER, what we got instead was one friend saying he was glad as he was still trying to rearrange work to make it and it was stressing him out a bit, one saying they were exhausted and was secretly quite excited to have a now empty upcoming evening (and hoped we weren’t offended by them saying so), and three people messaging because they’re working all weekend and were pleased they might be able to make a rearranged date.
In the end we just had our siblings round for the evening, had a quiet dinner and solved a homemade mystery my husband devised especially for the four of us which was a real giggle and the tonic we needed. Apart from a knock at the door from a big group of some VERY cute trick or treaters (which then led to us dressing Scarlett up as a badass vampire slayer complete with toy chainsaw…although don’t ask why we have a toy chainsaw hanging around..!) it was the quieter, family night we all sorely needed.
Sometimes, it needs to be ok for us to say, I’m sorry I’m not doing that, without having to feel like you have to write an essay of excuses to justify yourself (which I am terrible for doing, I always feel really guilty unless there’s what could be deemed a ‘valid’ excuse). The truth is, we’re all really busy, and stressed, and got lots of things going on.
We all need to prioritise ‘being ok’, having some time out, and sometimes doing little or nothing. People understand exactly what you mean when you say ‘It’s just all a bit much at the moment so I’m dialling down’. And anyone who gives you a hard time about it, perhaps isn’t being a good enough friend. (Or perhaps really wishes they could choose the do the same but feel like they can’t!)
Now I don’t mean it’s ok to just keep sacking off your friends and family at last minute! On the contrary; sometimes if there’s a friend or family member in need, other things need to be dropped. So if I ‘plan’ to have a relaxing night watching old episodes of Greys Anatomy in my pyjamas and then I hear that a friend has lost their job and is upset, pyjamas Greys has to be shelved!
But what I mean is, we all get it. Life is busy for us all. Our door is always open to people we care about (members of our village – which will make sense to regular readers from my last post!). Always.
I suppose my main point here is that I’m terrible for over committing and I know a lot of people who are the same; we had a DnD night booked recently (I know, we are super cool!) and we started to wonder if we should still hold it, and then the day of the event, two of the confirmed participants cancelled. One with the reason given as ‘I’m not sure it’s best for my family for me to be out again tonight’. Fair enough, and very well chosen. We ended up having a quiet night with a very close member of our village (I realise every time I write this that I sound like a cult member…I promise it’s not!). We’d all over subscribed ourselves, and it worked for us all to cancel. So even if there’s an event cancelled that you’d been looking forward to, don’t be annoyed even if you think there’s not a good enough reason for it. Remember the times you’ve had an event on that you didn’t feel up to and felt like you needed a better excuse to say no to. Or, even more aptly, think about the time you went to an event feeling crappy, and left feeling just as crappy and wishing you’d stayed at home and in bed, perhaps with people wondering what was up with you. We all get it (those that don’t are not the people in the right, it’s not ok to feel guilt tripped into attending things under the guise of ‘being a bad friend if you don’t’!) and we all need to have a break and look after ourselves and those closest to us.
We are hoping to catch as many of our hugely talented friends in as many of the shows that they’re in over the next couple of months, and we’ll hopefully see some of them at our Winter tour of Hound of the Baskervilles. And I know a lot of them will want to, but it will be ok if they don’t make it. They mean more to us than ticket sales! Whether it’s Theatre, or sport, or any other career, those in my life have my complete and full support whether I can physically be with them or not. And they (should hopefully) all know that. It’s a cliche when people thank everyone for their well wishes on FB, but it’s genuine. We are all busy people, and even if the odd social media nod is all we have time for that day or that week, we are all in each other’s hearts. And even if there’s a few cancelled plans here and there, knowing we’re worth something to others, is pretty awesome. If you’re in my life (whether we see each other a lot or not) you are important and you mean a lot to me. And when I can, I’ll be at your show, your promotion party, I’ll buy your book, I’ll share your Facebook page. BUT, if I don’t, it’s for a good (not necessarily public) reason even if it’s not a big dramatic reason. But know that if you really need us, we’ll be there, and we’ll cancel plans, get in a bottle of wine and make up the spare room if need be. And likewise if we need some family time, or feel like we’ll fall down if we try and fit in any more, or jut want a night in with a bath, we’ll take the time out. So please, feel free to cancel on us or say no to an invite, we’ll do the same, and we can all stop feeling bad about it! We matter, you matter, it’s ok to say ‘not today’ and hide under your duvet if you need to instead or hide under ours if you like! Sending huge amounts of love to you all comrades.