2022 – A Retrospective

I’m going to be stepping back from Social Media this month (and hopefully beyond) so that I can focus on my creative work. But before I go I wanted to leave a few self-indulgent posts about the past year, where I am right now, and what I’m hoping to achieve over the next few years (and maybe there are people on here who can help me with that).

2022 was a landmark year for me. After a very negative and traumatic experience developing work in 2019, I found myself withdrawing from the arts almost entirely. I posted about it on here at the time, and people were lovely and super supportive, but I still couldn’t put pen to paper for about 2 years afterwards. I was pretty sure I was done with the arts in all its forms, and most of what you all saw on my social media around that time was equal parts performative and aspirational. The only things that kept me tethered to the world of art were the constant, thrilling chats about theatre with my friends; working with, and feeling valued by, the incredible team at Cork Midsummer Festival; and Molly Twomey appearing out of nowhere as if I’d summoned her from a dream.

And so in 2022, after much coaxing and encouragement, I really feel like I got my groove back. I started writing. A lot. Mostly for the legends over at The Thin Air, who gave me so much trust and encouragement to bring outstanding live music and upcoming bands the coverage and kudos that they deserve. I even ended up being a judge for the NI Music Prize, which was an odyssey in itself. Being immersed in listening to music also led me to return to my first love, making music. Red Mask and I started creating street art and putting out lofi tracks for nobody but ourselves, and I started to write songs again for the first time in… well, I can’t really remember. Somebody can remind me when I first wrote “Plenty Of Fish”😅.

Speaking of Red Mask. As much as he pretends to despise me and my process, he’s been a massive help to me, and a champion of artists in general. I sincerely hope he gets to keep doing that (for me, and for others) for years to come. He’s a tool, in many different ways. Primarily for me he was a hammer this year, and without him I would never have knocked through the layers of protective self-doubt and achieved my biggest highlight of the year: Returning to the stage.

Getting to put my work on stage again was such a cathartic experience for me, and I’ve never felt more calm and at home than when I put my first foot on the stage (even though I had a panic attack right beforehand). It truly felt like I was closing the door on a very dark period of my life. Doing so on the Everyman stage was particularly special, as it’s where I’ve seen some of my heroes perform, as well as being a space that has so often welcomed me in roles backstage, or by providing space for me to write, rehearse and explore. Getting to step onto the stage… I mean, getting to watch Red Mask step onto the stage… was a special moment that I’ll keep tucked away inside my soul forever, occasionally taking it out to glimpse when I’m having doubts about myself and what I’m capable of.

I also got to travel a lot. Heading to Canada for Jim’s wedding, then driving from Seattle to San Francisco with Ferg in our magic mushroom adorned campervan, getting to see incredible work at the Edinburgh Fringe. All these things left me feeling inspired and excited to move forwards.

Mostly, in 2022, I was grateful for people. People who championed me like Naomi Daly, Louise Stephens, Brian Coney, and of course Molly Twomey. People who trusted me like Rose-Anne Kidney at Goldiefish Events, Shaun and Nyree from The Collective, and Lorraine and Allyson at Cork Midsummer Festival.  To all the people on here and in real life who have ever uttered an encouraging word to me, no matter how small or inconsequential, you cannot fathom how much it meant to me. One of the symptoms of ADHD is a thing called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, which means that I don’t take rejection very well (understatement of the year), but the flip-side is what’s somtimes called Recognition Responsive Euphoria, which means that that any words of positivity or encouragement is like dropping me in a swimming pool of joy and confidence. To everybody who said they enjoyed reading something I wrote, or listening to something I recorded, or watching AN ACTUAL LIVE THEATRE PERFORMANCE I MADE (still can’t believe that one), thank you from the bottom of my heart. In 2023 I promise to pass those good words on and on and on, and I hope you continue to give them, because they are a gift, and you don’t know which words will be the ones that push somebody over the finish line on something they’ve wanted to do but couldn’t find the resolve to finish.

Onwards.

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