Not succeeding doesn't mean you've failed, not trying does

The Basics

Name: Sarah O'Regan

Born: December 1987

Address: Waterloo, Cork, Ireland

Qualifications: Multimedia studies, Film and television production

Profession: Dreamer

The Self Profile
Though I would consider myself somewhat adept in the fine art of the written word, I've always struggled when it comes to penning self profiles; The most gruelling part of submitting work to agents for me, is the accompanying 'All about me' letter. It always stumps me and could take days of work to write one page. 

I suppose why I struggle with it, is because it gets me thinking about who I really am and what values I truly hold. It makes me ponder how the world perceives me and how I want to  be perceived by the world.

Above all, I cherish honesty. I believe that you can only create great works of art, when you honestly put your very soul into it. I believe only when we as a society, are more honest with ourselves and with each other can we begin to open up and come together and simply be kinder to each other.

Taking into account how highly I regard authenticity, I believe a self profile should be as honest as possible. I believe it should portray the true you and not what you think your supposed to be.

The Good and the Bad
Let me first start off by stating that I am not perfect; I'm known for having a short fuse, which I like to call 'passion', I've gotten more control over it now and it takes a lot more to set me off but when I do, you best run for cover. I have a high sense of moral justice and strong opinions, which can turn people off me. I cannot tolerate ignorance and have very little patience for idiocy and status. Small talk doesn't appeal to me, I'd much rather talk about something with substance. However my strong morals, combined with; what can be at times a crippling and overwhelming sense of empathy and sensitivity, enables me to hold those I love in high esteem. I would do anything for my loved ones.

Growing up, l aways felt like an outsider, opting to play my imaginary games rather than chasing and kissing boys. Most of the girls in my class in school believed that they were more mature than their age and would walk around linking each others arms at lunch, discussing their latest beauty regimes. This to me was utter boredom and I, more often than not, would roll my eyes to the heavens while scampering off to play blind man's buff or a game of manhunt. I concluded that you're only a kid once, you might as well have fun  and make the most of.

As I grew however, I realised my personality irritated some people and I went from a very outspoken child to a self conscious teenager to an extremely agreeable adult. I pretended to be someone I wasn't in order to fit in. I found my role as a rock, a helper, an adviser and I latched onto it. I began to put everyone ahead of myself, believing that I was stronger than most, I was designed to quietly carry my burdens while diligently helping my friends and family.

I found myself visiting my imagination less frequently, imagination is for kids after all and as a result I wrote and created less. I believed there was something wrong with me, I had a knack for turning my peers against me so I had to hide who I was. I had to stay out of my imagination. I made my opinions invalid, I adopted the beliefs of those around me and I kept quiet. my self worth was minuscule when I was nearing the end of my teenage years and I found myself in an abusive relationship for the better part of four years. I wasn't worthy of love or kindness, I was merely a punching bag for others to vent on.

A Student
I wasn't much of a student through school, primary and secondary. I was a bit of a day dreamer and had a notoriously bad memory and as a result, I wouldn't say struggled academically but was rather average, maybe the lower scale of average. I had no brain for capitol cities, historical dates, foreign languages, spellings; spelling was by far my worst! Because I wasn't very good at school from an academic and social perspective, I didn't much enjoy it. However that changed somewhat in my later years of primary when we were introduced to computers, drama, science and debate. Drama was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Despite my shyness, I absolutely loved getting lost in a character and when it came time to perform, man did I ever perform. I think I took my teachers, classmates and myself by surprise when I acted. It was a bizarre experience for me, It seemed like an inner conflict and a complete contradiction of an increasingly shy child. I had no fear of the audience and no qualms of letting loose in front of my peers; I suppose it let me indulge in my imagination without being ashamed, in fact I was praised for it. 

My acting career didn't last long as my drama classes were left to the way side when I started secondary. Again, I struggled with most subjects as most required hard work and a good memory. My saving grace,  however was Maths and English.

I was beginning to realise that I wasn't entirely stupid, my brain was just hardwired to learn by doing. Maths made sense to me, you didn't need a good memory to excel in maths, everything can be worked out. It requires you to rely upon your own judgement and logic rather than your ability to recall data. English, even more so, required free thinking to excel, there's only so much you can achieve by memorising quotes and answers, an understanding of the material was a necessity. 

A Defining Moment
We all experience moments in our lives where the memory of which will always stick with us, it may be a memory which only profoundly affected you, one which you may recall in times of self doubt or anxiety; Rowling recalling how when she was trying to publish The Philosopher's Stone told herself she would try literally every publisher, she believed at least one of them would have to like it, statistically; Michael Faraday, despite having no formal mathematical eduction discovered and defined magnetic fields; Albert Einstein's famous quote, 'Imagination is more important than knowledge'... I'm not for a second putting myself on par with any of these geniuses but merely stating that calling on their strength, determination and wisdom in times of doubt has pulled me from darkness. Sometimes, though it doesn't take the words a renowned genius to enlighten or encourage you, sometimes it comes as a humble remark from those around you.

The first memory to spark a genuine interest in a career in creative writing and one which still summons belief and courage to this day, came from my sixth year English teacher, Miss Buckley. 

I was in the midst's of the first of many heartaches due to my turbulent relationship and hadn't been able to stop crying for days. I was seventeen at the time and my world was falling apart, I didn't know how I could possibly ever stop feeling so distraught. Eventually though, I got sick of crying, the pain was overwhelming and I wanted it to end. In an act of desperation, I picked up a copy of my English pre-exam papers in the hopes of distracting myself. I always enjoyed writing short stories and essays in class and always achieved As and Bs but it had been years since I had written anything for the sheer sake of it; As I said, I was desperate.

However, what I received was far more than a distraction,  I was overcome with liberation and peace. I had chosen to write an article about the beginning and the end of a relationship. It was the perfect opportunity to vent my heartache and I poured my soul into the piece. By half way, the tears had stopped and as I neared the end, I was smiling, brimming with pride and self satisfaction. In the depths of my grief, I managed to create something which was rudimentary harsh and honest yet radiated with a poetic beauty which only, a broken heart could muster.

I handed up my essay for correction the following day and a day later, Miss Buckley gave it back to me with a mix of awe and disbelief. After questioning me several times if I had written the essay on my own, even asking if I had received help from a professional author, she excitedly pleaded with me to allow her to read it to the class, something she'd rarely do with an ordinary piece of homework. Though I didn't allow her to read it aloud, to which she was disappointed yet understanding, I did take her praise and her feedback to heart ' A1...This is very good... did you do it on your own??'; Once again, I had taken a teacher by surprise. Though this brief encounter wasn't enough to bestow a bounty of confidence upon me at the time, it would stick with me and was indeed some sort of slow burning catalyst to an awaiting eruption yet to come.

College Years
I began college hoping to reinvent myself somewhat, I opted to study something that I had an interest in and I was determined to try harder in my studies. I was hopeful my soon-to-be classmates and I would bond over our common interest of multimedia. I managed to nail the academic side of things, graduating top of the class by the end of the two year course, the social side on the other hand was again, a failure.

Unfortunately the majority of my class were the type of people who enjoyed inflicting misery on others; from childish name calling to condescending comments, to catfishing online, and they spent most of their time picking on one classmate in particular. 

I was still in my aggressive relationship at this point, still believing that nobody else could ever love me. It wasn't until I went on to continue my education in CIT that things began to change. I'd found a group of misfits like me, an entire class of them in fact! They shared my peculiar, dry and silly sense of humour, they invited me to lunch without hiding my food if I left the table, they brought me to parties and clubs and they helped with me with my projects. I was finally on the inside rather than hovering on the edge.

The following year, I opted to study abroad with ten of my classmates; I could go into it and explain how and why I had more experiences in those few short months than I have in the six years since but that I think deserves a piece of its own. Let's just say, I came back a changed woman. 

Within the first week abroad, I realised that I didn't love or even slightly miss my boyfriend, frankly his demands that I be at my apartment every evening for 6pm to Skype him was an irritant. A bit of physical distance was all I needed to gain some perspective. I finally broke free of his grasp and a massive weight lifted while my confidence soared.

Though it seemed I had finally worked out the social aspects of college,  my studies began to falter. By the time I was in my final year, things had gotten much more technical and the coding far more advanced. I was feeling overwhelmed and began to lag behind and as a result, failed my final year. It was something which I was determined not to pull me down. I knew I had lost interest in multimedia and understood how much of a struggle it would be to repeat and pass the year. I instead decided to specialise in film production.

Once again I was immersed in something enjoyable and surrounded by like minded people. This time, I managed to find a balance between studies and parties. I wrote a lot more and even dusted off a story which had been blossoming in my imagination since I was fifteen. I still thought my roll was as a rock and I failed to display any struggles of my own to the world.

As Good as it Gets
Though I found myself somewhat, in college, I regressed back to to my shyness when I entered the real world. I had a plan but that plan was somewhat disillusioned. I found myself a full time retail job and thought finally, things were looking up for me, I was going to work my 9-5 and earn a modest living while I worked on my film career, how quickly that plan frayed.

Within six months of working my new job, I was promoted to another department which would require more work and determination. At first, I was delighted my good work ethic and practice had been validated, however after a few short months, I was feeling the strain. It was very much a role, where without prior experience and knowledge, a good memory was required. I was beginning to sink under the workload and began to suffer frequent anxiety attacks. I kept going, kept struggling in silence until one day, I could take no more and suffered a complete  breakdown. I was out of work for two weeks with stress and felt the lowest I had been since the days of my abusive relationship. My confidence and self esteem were at zero and believed I was a complete failure. Things got worse on my return to work as my HR manager told me that I was unreliable and caused unnecessary stress to my colleagues. I was quickly demoted from my role and left to pick up the pieces of my self worth. I knew I was about to spiral out of control and needed help. 

One major positivity through the misery was that I was fortunate enough to find true, and unadulterated love, without which, I'm not sure I would have had the strength or will to cope. I learned some harsh and valuable lessons from my first relationship and understood that there was no messing around with love, it was too precious to squander on just anyone. The moment that I met John the connection was meaningful and instantaneous. I immediately knew there was something special about him, I had never felt so comfortable and at ease meeting someone new before. We hit off within the first few seconds, sharing the same interests, sense of humour and beliefs. We became close friends at first, meeting each other frequently for tea or pints but soon after, the temptation grew too great for me, the longing to taste his sweet lips too much. I kissed him in a whirlwind of passion and four years on, we're still in love as ever and continue to bond, connect and grow stronger still.

A Spiritual Awakening
The next milestone of my life was a liberating experience, it came with its trials and barriers but overall, it shaped the person I am today. I opted to see a therapist to help me deal with my stress, anxiety and depression. With Trish's help, I dealt with the pressing issue of my self confidence at work and she helped me realise that work was merely the tip of the iceberg. I gradually revealed to her my passion for writing and she soon put me on the path of self discovery. She revealed to me that I had spent the better part of my life hiding my true self, I didn't use an outlet to express myself and due to my perfectionism, I wasn't willing to ask for help when I needed it. As a result, all these anxieties and feelings of low self worth were bubbling inside it me, it was only a matter of time before I broke down.

Since the time of Miss Buckley's praise, I hadn't again seriously considered chasing a profession in creative writing. It was only a brief moment and a fleeting pipe dream. Even after completing my film studies, I had the plan but no serious intent on implementing it, in fact after leaving college I became less creative and stopped writing altogether, until Trish, of course. I was embarrassed to tell her about my love of writing at first. I felt she would think I was delusional and a bit naive to think I could be a published author. I remember mumbling to her how I had never considered a career in writing and she asked me in polite confusion 'Why not?' I thought it was obvious, I was ordinary, dull and mediocre, successfully achieving your dreams was for the spectacular and worthy, I didn't deserve a life of happiness.

With Trish's help however, my perception of myself changed dramatically. She introduced me to an extraordinary poet, who did nothing but encourage and nurture my talent and I started to keep a journal; we had gone passed my stresses at work and had deciphered that I had not been true to myself for some time. This was all very exciting, I was finally getting to bottom of my low self esteem but after the initial elation, came some fear. 'If I haven't been myself all of this time, then who am I?' This was when the real work would begin. I was asking myself some big questions and the answers were only leading to more questions which began to overwhelm. Keeping a journal was a necessary tool in my journey of discovery, it allowed me to freely explore my thoughts and lay down in black and white who I was. Not only did discovering the knowledge assist me but the very act of writing was liberating, it was an experience which I enjoyed immensely and was a little regretful when I didn't need my journal anymore. I had finally realised how truly passionate about writing I was and loved getting lost for hours without noticing the passage of time.

With Trish's guidance my confidence was beginning to flourish. I once again dusted off the story which had stuck with me since my early teens and indulged, I was surprised at how easily I could continue the story. It soon grew legs and has since turned into a trilogy. I didn't stop there however, I began to write a series of shorts based on the epic fantasy as well as other shorts, articles, ebooks and I even found my love of writing poetry, something which I had convinced myself that I was terrible at.

The Story so far
I have since finished a first draft of the first part of my trilogy adventure and am currently working on the second draft. It's something which I enjoy and receive nothing but absolute pleasure doing. It brings me joy and fulfillment. I may not yet be published but I would, however, consider myself an author.

That brings us up to the here and now; I am still working my retail job but thanks to Trish, I have rearranged my priorities. I understand now that my job does not define who I am, it's how I chose to spend my free time which does.

© Sarah O’Regan


No comments:

Post a Comment