I believe in finding something that you properly believe in, and care about, and want to dedicate your life to. And then, finding out how you can best serve it. I suppose that’s quite a sort of work-based answer. But I believe that gives you the most fulfilment in life. So you need to find out what you’re good at, who you are. Find out who you are first, then find out what you care about, and then work out how you can impact that. Then that’ll give both your fulfilment and fulfilment for other people as well.
For me, that’s telling stories. I wanted to be actress. Did I? I wanted to go to drama school when I was young. I loved acting. Doing a play and reading those two lines and feeling, “oh that so resonates.” So I went to drama school, and yes it was glamorous and fun being an actor. But… And I had a real soul-search. One, why is it not making you happy. Two, there are too many of them, and you’re good, but not spectacular. So, what about it do you love? And I was walking down the street in Cambridge, it was a wet September afternoon, and I suddenly knew, it’s story-telling. I had this teacher at the Young Actors Company, he was the most inspirational man in the world. He said: ‘when mankind has nothing else left, we tell stories’. I totally forgot that until talking about this now! When people share stories, you learn more about yourself, it brings people together, it’s unifying across countries and cultures. That’s what I love and care about. And then I was able to think, “so what are you good at?” And I’m a mix of practical and creative. So that’s why I’m now helping to make drama from the business side, because that’s how I think I can best serve story-telling.
What I’ve been saying might sound individualistic, but I don’t think it is, because once you have a proper sense of purpose, you have more energy to give to other people. I observe people a lot. And when I see those people who are on the right track, you can sense that, and they give off that relaxed, positive energy. If you deny yourself the bit that it knows that it needs, you’re not going to be happy, and the people around you aren’t going to be happy. Smile and the world smiles with you.
I’m definitely atheist. I really admire eastern philosophies about being one with yourself and not being ambitious, but I can’t imagine living without the pursuit of an ultimate goal. Sometimes I wish I could, but I don’t get that.
But I’ve always liked pantheism. Like that god is in the beauty of that flame. I like to look at things, to stand and stare, and contemplate how beautiful things are, and how unimaginably amazing they are. The fact that we’re having a conversation is so weird! And how actually we have constructed everything ourselves. There is no meaning. I really believe there is no meaning, but there is something so beautiful in the fact that we make meaning, and that then it is meaningful. And the connection between falling in love and the synapses firing. Doesn’t that blow your mind?
Figuring out who you are is not easy. And being honest with who you are. And maybe this is selfish, putting this before the needs of others. But I feel uncomfortable that these beliefs may make me sound very egotistical. I do want everyone to be selfish and pursue their own happiness. But that doesn’t mean getting where you want to be at the expense of other people, that’s not happiness at all. That’s about self-ambition, whereas finding out how you can best serve what you believe might come at the expense of the ego. Like the saying, “the ones who are best to rule are the ones that don’t want to”. Like in my case, the ego in me finds it difficult to accept that I’m better at the background job than on the stage, because the stage is more glamourous.
What you want to serve…it’s almost like a higher power, it’s ultimately not for our own gain, but for the common good. Even making someone else happy cannot be just about that one person. It has to be for a bigger thing. Like, I believe a lot in the arts. You can serve art. To be honest, I don’t know if you can ever be happy pursuing money for its own sake. Does that exist? Not if the ultimate goal is your own wealth.
Obviously, you need the means to be able to follow this path I am describing, so maybe this is a bit of a privileged thing to be talking about. But there is probably more than one thing that could make you happy. Perhaps your circumstances shape what you want to be. I want to tell stories because my dad worked in music and had a radio production company and my mum was an artist, so I was always around that sort of thing. So that must have something to do with it.
Where I want to be ultimately involves quite a lot of power and responsibility. And I am quite an anxious person, I find it difficult to make decisions. So, some people think I won’t be able to do it. But I disagree with that. I don’t like that part of myself and I will fight it, because I will be good at it, when I get there.