Do you feel lonely?
I spend a good portion of my life in a coffee shop next to my local drama school's halls of residence. I love this time of year because all the students are back, I watch them go to and from rehearsals dressed, head to toe, in black and as they pass I say quick prayers for them, for peace, for healing, for them to give church a go. It makes me quite emotional, I almost feel like a proud parent, or big sister, watching my siblings leave home, and go out into the big wide world, knowing how much these first few weeks mean to them. As I watch I remember my first term at drama school and the whole array of emotions I experienced over that time. The excitement, the opportunities, the creativity, the exploration, feeling like ‘this is what I’m made for’; but then also the weight of change, brokenness, anxiety, desperately wanting to be noticed by the tutors and affirmed as a performer, not getting enough sleep, and being around confident, competitive, talented performers all the time.
I remember the days we laughed so much we couldn’t breathe and I remember the days we walked home with tear-stained faces. I loved my first year of drama school, but there were times in that first term when I felt incredibly lonely. I was surrounded by people who were just like me and I spent barely any time alone… but I still felt lonely. The BBC conducted a survey this year and discovered that 16-24-year-olds are the loneliest of all age groups. That is a crazy stat, a wake-up call, an alarm bell, but also oddly comforting if you’re a student who is feeling the lonely pangs; you are definitely not the only one.
Loneliness comes when our need for real relationship isn’t being met, when even though we’re around people we don’t feel known. In drama school, this is heightened because you’re taught that your coursemates are and will be your competition. So it’s hard to relax, to show weakness, to let people in. But it’s not true. It’s not okay. It’s not how it’s meant to be. You were not made to be lonely. To be in competition. To have your guard up. You were made for real relationship, for family, for love. And you can and will find that in and out of drama school. This is part one of a four-week blog series, next week we’re going to look at challenging culture and fighting for real relationships in drama school, but to start let’s talk about relationship outside of drama school.
Drama school is a bubble- you need to step out of it and find community that has nothing to do with performing. Doing that will give you perspective, help you rest and combat those lonely pangs. Whether you’re a Christian or not, an easy way to find this outside community is in a local church. Church isn’t an institution, organization or corporation; it’s a family. A family with arms wide open, ready to welcome in new faces. No matter who you are, what you believe, where you’re at, you can knock on your local church's door. As a Fusion team, we’ve been inviting students to #trychurch for the first time or hundredth time. And students, across the country, in their thousands have signed up to our student linkup app. The app gives you a list of all the churches in your area, making it really easy for you to decide which family to visit. Trying church in my second year was one of the best decisions I've ever made. For the first time, in my degree, I had community, family and somewhere to go when I needed to get out of the drama school bubble. And you can have that too.
You weren't made to be lonely. There are options. Why not try church?