No more daydreams

“All those daydreams become fantasies rather than possibilities”

That’s a quote from one of my favourite films ‘Third Star’ highly recommend it (have tissues at the ready). It’s a highly accurate quote, and while I for the most part stopped dreaming of the big things a while ago (I think it’s called your mid twenties) I had thought my more moderate dreams were still obtainable.

My more moderate dreams consist of a good job-recently either a decent standard academic, knowledgeable and relatively successful in my field or should I choose the other route, a fairly successful component in the British theatre machine. I don’t want to run the National Theatre, I’d just like a decent literary manager post or a publicity position. Nothing fancy just something I’m passionate about and can enjoy. More and more I feel like even my modest dreams that I work hard for are slipping further and further away.

We’ll come back to the fact that my PhD is somewhere between a car crash and a joke at best at the minute and focus on my immediate issue. Until recently (about 18 hours ago to be exact) I had arranged to spend a month in New York doing some research for my PhD and doing some intern work for a theatre  company. I’d gotten a contact through my PhD supervisor and I’d been offered the chance to do some work with them. I did some work remotely, and I was all set to go out there do a bit of work and hopefully expand my contacts, gain some advice and some experience in areas I haven’t worked in before. It was taking me a while to get a chance to talk to my contact to sort out the finer details but that’s arty types for you and as I’m the complete opposite (I need everything organised yesterday to the finest detail) I just put it down to general disorganization.

I should have listened to the feeling-or lack of feeling-I wasn’t excited. I have loved New York for years, I’ve been there far too many times and I’d normally bite your hand up and be climbing at the walls to get there. This time, for this amazing opportunity all my friends were telling me how exciting this was how amazing an opportunity but I couldn’t get excited. Maybe I was nervous, maybe I’ve just been so stressed and busy I haven’t had time to be excited.

I should have listened to the alarm bells, should have done something sooner. I finally spoke to my contact yesterday and there’s no work for me out there. Nobody is going to be there. She said it in such an offhand way, as if that was the plan all along, as if it was no consequence. That wasn’t the plan. I’ve driven myself mad going over it all, I’ve looked at the emails. I was doing work remotely but I was also going there to meet with them, to do some work, gain experience gain advice. Well now I’m not.

I planned my life around this trip, yes the research trip is useful but I could have lived without-I was going to live without. It was a chance finally, the chance to make my CV look brilliant to gain experience and make contacts-which lets face it both academia and theatre are built on-who you know. I could have spent these months, this time and this money trying to do the same here in Cardiff, or in London. I should have.

I don’t know what I’m doing in the immediate or long term future now. I don’t want to go to New York (there’s a sentence I thought I’d never type). And for the long term I’m now left wondering what one earth I’m doing? I’ve been fighting long and hard enough for both career and PhD and you have to wonder when one more slap in the face is one too many?

Published by Emily Garside

Academic, journalist and playwright. My PhD was on theatrical responses to the AIDS epidemic, and I continue to write on Queer theatrical history. Professional nerd of all things theatre.

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