Almost three years ago I wrote my first ever blog-post: 'The Beginning'. It reads like I had conservatoire fairly sussed out, and on one level I did. In fact, I would like to congratulate my younger self on correctly identifying the people who were going to stick by me in those first few terrifying weeks - as we come to the end of this part of our training now they are some of my closest friends. However, whilst it seems I had intellectually grasped the concept of not comparing myself with others, it took a good two years to put that idea into practice.
My three years at Guildhall can very briefly be summed up as follows:
Year One - accidentally fall face-first into the School's thriving contemporary music scene. Make debut at Wigmore Hall, work with the Royal Opera, step in as a last minute replacement for someone on the Opera Course. Wonder why on earth anybody thinks I am talented enough to deserve any of these things.
Year Two - 6 months of illness. Lots of illness. A cough that never went away, leading to undiagnosed acid reflux, leading to voice loss (that I tried to pretend wasn't a problem), leading to a decision that I was the biggest waste of space the Guildhall School had ever seen. In April my fortunes turned around, when I finally let on that things were not OK in the voice department. Hats off to the School's student services, who had me seeing a vocal pathologist within days - he diagnosed my reflux and suggested that four cans of coca-cola a day might not be the best plan for the future. A few dietary changes and some Gaviscon, and I've been problem free for a year!
Year Three - health in check, I finally woke up to the fact that everyone at the Guildhall School was quite good at singing, and that I was part of 'everyone'. I landed my first professional opera gig with Birmingham Opera Company, and have had some opportunities since that I never, ever thought would be possible for 'someone like me'. Have come full circle to a point where I actually really like singing, with the added bonus of knowing that I'm quite good at it. Most of the time.
And so here I am, coming out the other end. Obviously there is still work to do (there always is) but I feel so lucky - for the wonderful teaching and the friends I have made - but also for having had a safe-space in which to struggle, and to learn more about how to look after myself. The last two years in particular have been a real journey of discovery into what it means to no-longer live in an eighteen-year-old's body: running has become my primary source of endorphins instead of chocolate, and I have discovered the art of an interesting salad.
I cannot wait to see what comes next, for myself but also for my peers who have taken this journey with me.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way."
(OK, this quote is a bit OTT, but nothing wrong with a bit of drama from time to time!)