How I spend my birthday in "COVID-times"
Updated: Jun 23
Hello everyone. I am officially in my late 20s and Oh. My. God. I can't believe it. Ever since I turned 18 I've felt weird about birthdays. I think it's my inner anxiety monster telling me I'm not yet where I wanted to be at any given age and riding the rollercoaster that is real-life. I was the child that had my wedding and career planned aged 5. I played weddings with my friends on my street all the time and KNEW that I was going to be a professional singer. I adored singing. I would force anyone to listen to me and constantly begged my parents to move to the US so I could audition for Disney Channel. Obviously, this did not happen.
Fast forward to age 18 and I'm about to start the second year of my BA in Music Performance. by this time I'm starting to realise that everything isn't as it seems. When you begin music college you are met with encouragement and hope, but you are not told aware of the harsh reality that is: there are way too many sopranos and nowhere near enough jobs. I could go on about the state of the classical music industry for hours - but that is a story for another day. That was all well and good and so I decided to stick to it and keep going, convinced I was special and would have a career by the time I was 22. Over the next couple of years, I noticed I would get anxious coming up to my birthday. I think this was definitely brought on my being 2 years younger than the rest of my year group at college and feeling a little inferior.
By the end of my degree, I felt better about my life journey and started to enjoy life more. I was in a much better place with my self-confidence and felt 'on-track' for a career in opera.
In 2016, I took my 22-year-old ass and hauled it over to London where I learnt the true harsh reality of the opera world. Sometimes it doesn't matter how good you are at something, if you don't want it enough, it's not for you. The music industry is tough. Its audition after audition, hotel room after hotel room and more than likely, no sign of job stability at least until your 30s. And for those who are willing to sacrifice those things and pursue your dream, great, good for you, I'm happy for you. But I do not envy you. It is lonely. it is unpredictable, it is not for me.
Making the decision to leave the world of opera and come back to Dublin has been the best decision I've made in years. And possibly the first decision I've made not worrying about what people would say or think. I didn't care. I was so unhappy and needed some stability.
I know I've talked about my career journey a lot on this blog but it's very much something I think has defined who I am. Now at 26 years old I no longer have the grand plan I'd been following from the tender age of crazy. I actually have no idea what I want for the first time ever and it scares the life out of me! There are so many things I love: Fashion, travelling, working with children, music, writing, and I've finally realised I'm allowed to try them all if that's what I want. I can do anything and it doesn't matter my age.
Back on the subject of birthdays, I think this year has been one of the most chilled ever. I wasn't terribly excited for it as we were supposed to be spending it in Marbella but that bitch "'rona" had other plans. I also didn't have high hope due to all the restrictions and a broken ankle, but I actually had a lovely time. The day before my birthday we had a gorgeous family BBQ in my parents back garden, they gave me loads of amazing presents and my Mam baked me a princess cake. Then for my actual birthday, Keith brought me presents and breakfast in bed. Then we went for a drive and got Starbucks, sat on the grass in the sunshine, got my favourite salad from Chopped and then ordered Japanese food from my favourite restaurant in Dublin: Eatokyo. It was really nice and chilled and given the circumstances, a pretty lovely day.
I've always been one to look to the future or have something to look forward to, but now that COVID has taken that away, I have learned to embrace the present a bit more and I've decided to stop worrying about my age. Instead of saying "Oh my god I can't believe I'm 26" I'm going to say "I'm only 26". It's not like I'm ever really going to 'grow up' anyway. I'll be going to Disneyland until the day I die. So here's to the future, and not letting anxiety get the better of any more birthdays.