Before him, there was you

So today is International Woman’s Day. What a time to be alive! I have loved seeing people posting all over my social media accounts celebrating all these inspirational women, sharing their own experiences and pushing for a more equal society.

I had been wondering if I had anything to contribute to the existing rhetoric and all day  these 2 sentences have been floating around in my head:

After all, before you there was a me, and she was okay.

So right now I will learn to love myself first. Because being on my own does not make me alone.

Those are actually quotes from a spoken word poem I wrote last year called “Closure” (by the way, if you are interested in listening to my poetry, then just hit me up and I’ll send you a link – they’re currently unlisted on YouTube)

So round and round, those sentences have been spinning  in my head which was was weird as they are from a poem I wrote so long ago and had completely forgotten about. In lectures, in seminars, whilst I was making lunch…I couldn’t push these words I had written out on my mind.

Before YOU there was ME and she was OKAY

As I sit in bed towards the end of the day, I consider the importance of these words in relation to International Women’s Day and realise that there is a lot that can be learnt from them.

It seems as though from a young age, women tend to be painted this idyllic picture of a husband, marriage and a family. Now, don’t get me wrong – I can see why this can be conceptually appealing to some. However, this can often lead to women prioritising the wrong things in their life and often their happiness is dependent on a man.

Michelle Obama once touched on this subject in an interview, she said: “A lot of times we slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else. One of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.”

I feel as though women are often expected to serve others and are taught to be nurturing and empathetic. These are all ostensibly positive traits. However, if they do not go hand in hand with self-love and empowerment, then I don’t believe a truly egalitarian society can ever truly exist.

Similarly, when “feminism” is depicted in the media, women are shown as these strong almost caricature super-hero type women. Whilst, this often has good intentions and can be great for empowerment but it can come at the expense of allowing women to be “human” and show weakness.

It can be tiring always having to consider others first and I can tell you from experience the “strong black woman ” mantra gets old after a while. Empirical evidence shows women’s mental health is deteriorating. Likewise, it also shows that women are more likely to prioritise their partner over themselves opting for the “mummy track”.

I do appreciate that not all women have the same ambitions (hey, would you believe that, not all women are the same. Shock, horror!). And I am certainly, not saying women who choose more traditional pathways are any less powerful. But in all spheres of life, it truly is important for women to begin to prioritise themselves.

I know for sure that my mother did not carry me for nine months so I can just be a shell of a woman or a ladder that others can climb up to boost themselves up.

So I guess this is just a call to action to all women. Whatever your situation. Your worth should not be dictated to you or be in relation to any man. Learn to prioritise yourself because after all, before him there was you, and she was okay. You are the key to your own happiness, no man can save you from your life and your worth needs to come from within.

It’s just me, Dammy, happy international women’s day!

xxx

VLOG: Rigoletto

So another week has come and gone – this week I went to see Rigoletto at the London Coliseum and I also met up with my family to celebrate my sister’s birthday.

I had such a great weekend and Rigoletto was a very enjoyable opera. If you are in central London this week before the 28th February when it closes, I would highly recommend a trip to see it!

It’s just me, Dammy, thinking of what show to go see next

xxx

VLOG: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

So this is going up a few days later than I would like as I’ve been super busy but last week I went to see the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. I was on an internship in London so decided to give myself a little after-work treat….

I had an amazing time at the theatre (as always!) and the play blew me away. It truly is an multi sensory experience and I cannot wait until I can go to see it again.

I love all things theatrical so it was great to review a play. Whilst musical theatre is my one true love, there is just something extra special about a well-done play. This weekend I’ll be widening the scope of my vlogs and going to see an opera.

I absolutely love operas and have been playing all my favourite arias on loop since booking the tickets. It’s also my sister’s birthday so we’re going to make a whole weekend of it which should make for a super fun vlog

It’s just me, Dammy, looking forward to the weekend

xxx

Talk less, smile more

I was recently in a seminar on company law at university when the seminar tutor told me to be quiet and let others speak. He said I should “give a chance to those who needed to spend more time thinking before they answered and did not want to impulsively put their hands up”.

Anyone in that seminar or who had subsequently spoken to me about it will know how much the comment offended me. Honestly, it really hurt me. I am the type of person that will spend hours pouring over the required reading, completely throw myself into everything I do and I genuinely love the law and all of its intricacies. So his comment cut right to the core of who I am as a person and every thing I stand for.

After a couple of weeks of feeling like I could not answer questions in lectures and seminars, I realised that as with all unpleasant situations, there was something that I could learn from it. Instead of being petty, I could use the experience to better myself!

So here is some advice for all my fellow extroverts and overly keen students:

Talk less, smile more

Bonus points for anyone who noticed the “Hamilton” reference in the title! Talk less, smile more – this is what Aaron Burr advises  Alexander Hamilton to do in the hit-musical.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you should not talk at all. I do not think you should have to lessen yourself to make others feel comfortable. But it does not always have to be you talking all the time. 

This is not about being less, it’s about being strategic. Do not think of it as hiding your light under a bushel, it’s more like upgrading to super efficient LED light bulbs that automatically adjust to the setting. 

I actually really enjoy silence but I’ve written before on how I find awkward silences uncomfortable. So naturally, when a seminar tutor asks a question and they are met with a sea of blank stares and I know the answer – I feel as though I have to speak.

But in reality, I don’t. It does not not always have to be you. It does not always have to be me. This is the stark reality of life – it is a hard lesson but it is beneficial to learn.

Sometimes, it can actually be really good to take a step back and let others do the work. Often when you are the one who always takes on a leadership role and are answering the questions, others are able to learn from you. But what do you gain? Yes, of course explaining things to others can help to consolidate knowledge.

However, you miss out on the insight others might bring. We all think in different ways and sometimes other people can add value to a certain topic. Look at it this way – if you already know 10 things, person A adds 3 things and person B adds 2 more things – you now know 15 things! But if you are the one speaking all the time – you are constantly giving and never receiving.

For example, if you give away the 10 things you know but no-one else speaks and you don’t learn anything from others. Then person A now knows 13 things and person B now knows 12 things but you still only have your 10! So don’t be surprised if people around you start doing better than you if you are not taking the time to learn from them.

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” – Francis Bacon

In addition, talking less can lead to people valuing your input more. When people get used to you always answering all the time then it can get taken for granted. Be it by your peers or your lecturers. Have you ever been in a situation where someone who usually does not speak adds a seemingly minute angle on something and everyone starts raving about it? Yep, sucks doesn’t it?

For example, in that same seminar another student was asked for an answer to a question and they told the seminar tutor that they had not done any of the work and had just come to absorb knowledge. And the seminar tutor offered him cookies and said he liked his response!

It’s basic economics – it’s about supply and demand. If there is endless supply of you and you are constantly offering your opinions then no-one will seek it out but if you speak less then it will generally have more weight.

“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence” – Leonardo Da Vinci

So if you make sure everything you say is gold dust then invariably you will be able to add more value to all situations you are in. Make sure every contribution is of quality. We live in a society that equates speaking a lot with a lack of thought. In reality, I probably overthink everything I do and if I feel as though I have not conducted myself in the appropriate way or said the right thing then it can haunt me for months.

But recently in society, “extroverts” have been demonised and traits that are associated with this group of people are sometimes made to look like a negative thing. There is a new wave of appreciation for introverts, which is actually a positive thing, it’s about time people who prefer to be quiet got their chance to shine! However, this should not come at a cost to people who are just not like that. Celebrating the excellence of those who don’t like to talk should not come at the expense of making assumptions about those who do like to talk. It’s not one or the other.

TOP TIP: So this is something I started doing at the beginning of second year – I have a “word quota”. No, I am not suggesting you count your words- that would be ridiculous. But I do try to mentally judge the proportion of time I am spending talking and after a while a little voice in my head will say: “you have reached your quota” in a somewhat Gandalf-like “you shall not pass” type of voice. And then that’s it- I will stop talking and spend the rest of the time listening.

Just because other people do not know that you know the answer does not make you any less intelligent. Sometimes, I will even write the answer down on a piece of paper or internally whisper it in my head and then smile inwardly if I get it right. The fact no-one knows you would have gotten it right does not take anything away from you!

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”  – Plato

As a very enthusiastic person, when it’s a topic I am passionate about (which is most things!) it’s easy to get carried away. But when you get used to keeping track on how much you are speaking then it gets more intuitive.

 

Of course, all of this advice is contextual and you have to learn to judge each situation on an individual basis. There are times where you do need to show off your skill to get ahead and it might even be necessary to talk a lot. And in reality, most seminar tutors in the past have loved me as they usually find it nice that somebody has done the reading and has formed an opinion. But not everyone will like that! And that is not something you should take personally – just something you need to learn to adapt to.

Ultimately, university is a microcosm of what it will be like in the “real world”. There will be people who think confident or extroverted people are too full on or are arrogant. You will encounter people like this in the work place, they might be your colleagues or even your boss. You might find people like this in your friendship circles.

Sometimes you will need to justify yourself when people make unfair character judgements. Like when my seminar tutor spoke to me in a overtly harsh and mocking tone, I called him out for being rude. I am not saying we should all become passive and lay down whilst people walk all over us.

However, not everything has to be fight and you need to learn to play the game. Sometimes you just need to talk less and smile more! Perhaps if Alexander Hamilton had learnt to be a bit more strategic with this earlier on his career it wouldn’t have ended so…abruptly.

It’s just me, Dammy, talking less but always smiling

xxx

 

 

VLOG: The Book of Mormon

So this has been another great week for musical theatre! This week “Follies” opened at the Warwick Arts Centre which I was the Marketing Manager for. It’s a show I’ve been working on since last year so it was great to see it come to life. I’ve written before about how being on a production team is a pretty thankless job but I was SO overwhelmed with how much support I got from my friends #SupportYourFriends2017

And then the week ended with a trip to the Prince of Wales Theatre in London to see the Book of Mormon. It’s a show that I have been wanting see for the longest time, as a self-proclaimed theatre lover and well seasoned show-goer, it’s pretty shocking that I had not been to see it already.

I had a great time at the show – it’s very hard to shock me but The Book of Mormon managed to do that! Let me know your thoughts.

It’s just me, Dammy, thinking of the next show

xxx

VLOG: Dreamgirls

So this week has been pretty great in terms of fulfilling my constant need for musical theatre! On Monday, I managed to get tickets for Hamilton on its West End run. I was actually in a lecture when they got released so it was super tense. Luckily, I managed to get tickets for two dates – so I will actually be seeing Hamilton TWICE!

And the week ended with a trip to the Savoy Theatre to see Dreamgirls. It was absolutely amazing and I vlogged the entire trip…

I hope you enjoyed the vlog, I certainly enjoyed making it! Make sure to hit the “follow” button so you don’t miss out on any updates. Next week I will be vlogging The Book of Mormon!

It’s just me, Dammy, already excited about my next trip

xxx

VLOG: Aladdin

So I have decided to start a new theatre series linking my YouTube and blog together. The idea came to me over Christmas when I was talking to my cousin about all my favourite shows and recommending stuff she should see based on her tastes.

At that point I realised that I have actually seen a lot of musicals/plays/operas. Musical theatre in particular is a big part of my life and I absolutely love theatre trips. So the next logical step was obviously to vlog these trips (lol). Hope you enjoy them!

 

Overall, I had an enjoyable time at Aladdin. It is a very accessible musical that pretty much anyone could enjoy. Parts of it get a bit cheesy perhaps even a little pantomime-esque at times but, it is Disney after all!

Let me know your thoughts….

It’s just me, Dammy, exploring a whole new world

xoxo