Lockdown – a walk in the park

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Welcome everyone, to 2021! We can all agree that 2020 seriously sucked! With tier changes and lockdowns coming in and out like the hokey cokey, I for one had little hope of maintaining any sort of career in the arts or starting any of the postponed shows again any time soon. It was meant to finally be the year where I got the most creative work of my career and instead of progressing for the first time, as an artist, I reclined back to my former ‘struggling artist’ self, as if I was just starting out for the first time. And less than a week in we have yet another national lockdown and a whole bunch of Pro-Trump mob, stormed the Capitol building. We’re not off to a great start but don’t worry, this post isn’t all doom and gloom. I’m just stating the reality of life. And sometimes I’ve managed to find hope and positivity in it.

All this time at home has made me reflect, not just on the lockdowns’, tier systems and how crazy 2020 was, but I discovered that my upbringing and life in general, had me…well prepped for it too!

Any British South Asian female will know the amount of restrictions experienced growing up. In comparison to many other Muslim families I still had a lot of privileges. My Dad took me to dance classes, I stayed over at friends’ houses, stayed for the weekend on a brownies’ trip and most shockingly studied drama at A-Level and Creative Writing at University! Unheard of for most brown girls like me.

The restrictions I did experience at home growing up, were monumental…at the time. I was so ungrateful that I couldn’t ride my bike on the street for as long as my brother or see my friends as much as everyone else could. So, it meant that I spent a lot of time at home. And it felt like I was the only one in the entire world who was restricted to the amount of fun that everyone else was having. I also learnt what I could ask to do and what I most definitely couldn’t. It made me incredibly grateful for the little time I had with friends. Now that we’re all experiencing this together, you don’t need me to tell you how incredibly humbling this experience has been. Never have we been more grateful for the sun, observant of our surroundings and never have we spent more time just…walking!

It wasn’t just my own community who made me feel like I have something to prove, White privilege had a lot to account for, if not more! Growing up, I faced racism (as did my family) from my peers, teachers and even closest friends, which made me feel invisible. And it’s had an impact on how I interact with both work colleagues and friends.

I’ll cover the details of my experience in another post or YouTube video as it’s a separate topic altogether, but I wanted to highlight here the importance that what I experienced wasn’t nearly as discriminatory as what those from the Black community experienced. Black people, more often than not, experience the most economic inequality as a result of racism and intersectional discrimination.

During those boring weekends or time after school, I turned to my imagination to escape what I was experiencing. I would practice dancing, singing, back flips, handstands and cartwheels at home and most exciting to me, I’d write. I wrote stories that included my friends and I camping, flying to the moon or the most thrilling…shopping! Not only did I write to get a sense of freedom but I wanted to feel like I belonged both at home and amongst my peers and friends at school. So of course, I had to write myself into every story I created as the hero or the popular one! Staying at home became easier.

But upon choosing to enter a very competitive industry just led to more no’s. My career as a writer and actor has meant a truckload of rejections! It’s audition after audition, pitch after pitch and application form after application form. In total, since the beginning of my career, I’m approximately on my 500th rejection! So I’m also used to hearing and eing told ‘no’ regularly. (Comment below if you’d like me to cover this in another post or video.)

Shockingly all these experiences have only made me more determined in this lockdown. And like anyone else, yes, I’ve had down days (weeks) in front of the TV, eating too many crisps (I think most of us are doing that now) and not feeling as productive or getting as much done as I’d have liked. But reflecting on my life (melodramatic I know but I’m a script writer) and how I’ve coped with all the restrictions and rejections in the past has actually prepared me pretty well for the current world. The point is we’ve all got through something terrible in our lives. Some more than others. The key is to recognise that you got through it.

What have you gained strength from, in your life?