If teaching, directing and writing theatre for young people has shown me anything, it is that success looks different for everyone. It is completely relative to the hopes, dreams, needs and philosophy of each individual.
Where a mark of success for one student might be simply stepping onto a stage,
for another it might be landing a lead,
and for another it might be making a friend,
and for another it might be memorising a monologue,
and for another it might be overcoming anxiety from a day fraught with almost insurmountable hurdles to actually arrive at my classroom door.
This also means that my own success in my work looks different depending on who I am working with. A student who has issues even standing up and saying their name in our first class coming to a place where they are sharing their ideas in a group setting absolutely fills my heart. A student who, usually through enthusiasm and excitement, tends to railroad group work, learning to sit back and take on the ideas of others, follow rather than lead, will equally fill me with pride.
For me success sits firmly in my heart space. Close and open relationships with my husband and child, being able to offer an ear to a friend who needs to talk, being remembered as a kind person.
Professionally, success is being able to work as a teaching artist in an industry for which I have a passion. It’s part of who I am and I get to share that with people every day. So, to that aforementioned person in the introductory paragraph I am unsuccessful. I rent and earn a pretty ordinary wage. I lack the cultural capital to have value to them, but I really couldn’t care less. Just as I tell the young people I work with, we need to recognise what success actually looks like to ourselves, not allow mainstream society to dictate that for us, and stay authentic. That way we will never let the careless words of others penetrate and diminish our self-worth.
How blessed I feel to have learnt this lesson.