As I say goodbye to my life as a student in the UK, I also bid the magical city of London a teary farewell too….indefinitely. Counting the months down before my visa expires has definitely gotten my nerves working over time. What’ll be the next step, which will be the next country or city, the next job, the next plan?
I studied filmmaking and hardly made over 5 short films, worked on features, none my own, made a good few TV shows and managed to stay on the email database of the film commissions, the events updates and the relevant entertainment circuits. Yet I’m still searching for my “big break,” that defining post that will anoint my career with the right job title and pay slip to go with it. The one that will have me proudly and eagerly awaiting the rolling end credits, the one that will be made wide reference to in a social introduction, the one that I’ll be known for and about, the one that gives my ego comfort and leaves my social position unthreatened. In search of my future dream job, I don’t hesitate waving goodbye to the 2014 that failed to offer it to me but that built enough confidence to reassure me worthy of one. So I look ahead at 2015 with wide gleaming eyes, ready to welcome the possibilities.
“I look ahead at 2015 with wide gleaming eyes, ready to welcome the possibilities”
Whilst I do, the sponge that I am continues to soak in and absorb those very things that keep me addicted to this ruthless industry. The lights camera and action of it all and the very reason I find myself half way across the world away from my family and friends, and my often complacent comfort zone. The ruthlessness of having ambition has definitely brought me to the ruthlessness of a foreign land. When I first set foot in London, never mind that it was my 2nd appearance here, I was still a ‘Johnny comes to Joburg’ captivated by where the universe had led me, to the doorstep of my dreams….or so I expected. My two year journey of intrigue, learning, yearning and discovering has been constant, sometimes ageing me in doubles for every moment that I’ve spent in the survival and achieving marathon. The city is a constant teacher and I the constant student, admirer and worshiper.
Leaving my home and relinquishing myself to self discovery was the bravest of decisions. I left on a limited budget but ready to live a full life, not aware of the broke, tuna can dinners ahead of me. I learnt how to master being the only black at the dinner party, the only woman in the room or sometimes building but more importantly I learnt how to not assume the responsibility of being the representative of those groups. My new ‘home’ interrogated me, questioned my motives, emotionally fought me, it’s climate made me feel cold and rejected but definitely didn’t kill me.
Making new friends was not so hard, but getting to know and understand them was the tricky bit. Keeping up with the racing east London twang was hard work. Having to speak quickly enough to keep the attention of your listeners was also a new challenge. Then there was taking ‘internet savvy’ to the next level, as literally your life depends on it, for directions, train/bus routs, currency converters etc, not even leaving room to candidly discuss the weather as everyone is just inclined to google it. Making those life and personal adjustments didn’t necessarily make me fit in, but made my new world more accessible.
“… those life and personal adjustments didn’t necessarily make me fit in, but made my new world more accessible”
Even though theoretically I’ve known that being alone is truly just being with one’s self, in London I’ve come to understand what that truly means and value it. Settling in your own thoughts, manoeuvring through crowds to find your own spot, be it on the tube, the park or the sidewalk. Besides the public places, I’ve learnt to find my own spot in my life as a whole, with my relationships, with my career and with what I want with my life. All those unclear moments took me a step further the right direction. Anxieties about money, that merciless Rand/Pound exchange rate, constantly being a foreigner and weirdly always managing to find yourself explain the African economic disposition, all are a constant reminder of who you are and why the hell you are there.
Exhausted and ready to finish, I graduate from my MA with very clear convictions. Even though my physical journey may not be marked with dark ink, I feel very clear of where I want to take my life, making me a better me than the one I landed here as.
Written by Reabetswe Rea Moeti, 25.
Rea has recently completed her MA in producing and directing television entertainment at the National Film and Television School. Give her 6 months and she’ll be gloating about her new production company!
Follow her on Twitter @rea_moeti.