The Quarter Club- Courage
I dunno about you, but I’m sick to the teeth of the phrase ‘Quarter Life Crisis’. I’m sick of articles in newspapers about the huge dip in first time house buyers, Buzzfeed lists jammed with gifs that are supposed to represent my journey through my twenties, and feeling like a huge failure with every engagement that gets announced on social media.
Life post-uni, at the moment is fucking hard. Jobs are scarce (at least, jobs in industries that you’ve actually trained and studied for that won’t make you want to kill yourself), house prices are higher than ever, and a lot of us seem to be floundering, struggling to find our place in the world and how to begin our adult journey on this planet. It’s been five years since I graduated (vom) and I still haven’t got a clue what I’m doing! I’m still penniless, in a rut with my career, living with my parents and single. I was at a baby shower the other day surrounded by pregnant women my age and could have sworn I felt tumbleweed blowing through my womb. It’s a real struggle to feel sunshiney some days, I tell you. Sometimes it feels as though I’m standing alone in a huge, empty canyon screaming ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK I’M DOING, LIFE GIVE ME A BREAK PLEASE’.
But you know what? Everyone else feels that way too. NO-ONE knows what the fuck they’re doing! And these things are less all consuming and easier to tackle when it’s a shared experience.
I found out recently about a wonderful network, designed to open dialogue for frustrated and lost twentysomethings who are feeling this way. The Quarter Club is all about creating a space of action that encourages conversation, collaboration and support. Bored of the negative dialogue surrounding these times of transition, our generation, with particular focus on women, co-creators Saskia Roddick and Jo Duncombe wanted to just take some control and turn the negative energy into something we can all shout about. In their words, “A place where you can reach sideways as well as up for inspiration.”
Sounds good right?
A few weeks ago, I went along to their inaugural event at Topolski bar in Waterloo. Greeted by a cold glass of prosecco, delicious food platters scattered about (proper shit too, like cheese and tapas, not a bowl of stale Kettle Chips in sight mate) and some complimentary Aesop goodies it was already looking like a great evening. Everyone was super friendly and keen to chat about who they were, why they were there and what they were hoping to get out of it and I met some hugely interesting and funny women- doctors, film directors, journalists along with fellow performers too.
We’d been emailed some questions all about the theme of the event, Courage, in advance to help break conversational ice which was a great idea so no-one felt awkward about making lumbering small talk. Once everyone had arrived and done a healthy amount of mingling, the first speakers of the evening took to the stage. We heard succinct, stimulating chat from six speakers, all who at one point felt that familiar Quarter Life Crisis fear and instead of being engulfed by it, were galvanized instead into starting businesses and shooting high for their goals. First up was Emily Vermont, founder of Finding Rhythms, an educational music programme designed for prisons followed by Aisha McKenzie, founder and director of AMCK Dance and Model Agencies, who really hammered home the mantra ‘Fake it ’til you make it’. Sage advice. Just before a short break, we heard a hysterically funny talk from actress Kerry Howard, best known for her portrayal of Laura in the BBC’s Him and Her who spoke about the difficulties one faces to keep going as a performer. In her words, “I just knew deep down I was a fucking good actress, so I kept going!”
After our glasses were refilled and more cheese had been consumed, we heard from Anna and Naomi, pals who met at cookery school and together started a lunchbox delivery service, LunchBxd. From cooking in their tiny kitchens at home, to now running a booming business with their own premises and managing a team of chefs, their ‘we can actually do this’ attitude to their idea was wonderful to hear about (and tbf, the food looks so buff). Last but by no means least, actress and writer Priyanga Burford gave the most incredible speech to set everyone’s spirits soaring, speaking about how she went against the grain of her family and having a ‘proper job’ to pursue performing, how people’s cynicism is merely fear dressed up in a pinstripe suit, and how the word encouragement houses the word courage, that no-one can achieve anything without support, nourishment and good relationships- exactly what The Quarter Club are striving to put in place.
There wasn’t one woman who left that night without their eyes shining, their phones bulging with contact details of those they’d met and their hope feeling higher than it had in ages- me included.
In my opinion, courage, real Gryiffindor style courage, has absolutely nothing to do with success and achievement. Real courage is having the guts to fail, to learn from bad choices and to deal with it if it all goes totally tits up. So next time I beat myself up when I look at my barren bank balance, my ring-less fourth finger and my calendar, terrifyingly free of any work lined up for the foreseeable future, I’m going to try to cut myself some slack, and think, “Fuck it. I’m giving this my best bloody shot, and at least I had the courage to try and make it work in the first place, rather than not having enough backbone to see if I could.”
If you’re a creative, intelligent female and feel like you could do with a bit of a network opportunity, do check out the Quarter Club on twitter (@TheQuarterClub) and sign up. The next event like this one will be in July, and they’re hoping to run some excellent other workshops alongside it- Pitching Parlours, where you can go with a business idea and get feedback and advice on it and Quarter Labs – a space for members to test out new projects / materials / writing / performance / ideas.
NOW GO FORTH, EAT A FUCKING JAMMY DODGER AND GET ON WITH TAKING OVER THE WORLD. WHO RUN THE WORRRRRRRRRRRRRRLD?!
all photography copyright Helena Miscioscia 2015.