Looking For Myself in London

            Here I am sitting in my 225-square-foot dorm room, which I share with another person. There’s no air conditioning, so we open the one small window we have for air, but the noise of the street usually forces us to close it. I spend most of my time on the twin bed because there really is nowhere else to go. It’s asphyxiating. The fluorescent light drains me of all my liveliness and I become a pile of mush curled up on the bed with my computer. I spend a solid three to four hours watching Netflix, and think, “Why don’t I go outside? But then where would I go?” I try to contact some friends, who either don’t respond or are occupied. “No one wants to hang out with me. What is wrong with me? Why don’t I leave my room and do something by myself? I’m so alone. I’m worthless.”

            Over the years I’ve taken a handful of courses and workshops, even acting classes that focus on quieting that critic in your subconscious that stops you from achieving your highest good. I still struggle with locating the mute button on my imaginary remote. The voice is most present when I’m inactive­–mindlessly fixated on my computer or iPhone screen. I mentally punish myself for watching Netflix and constantly refreshing social media instead of going to the gym or doing homework.

            The voice has been present a lot since I’ve moved to London for the semester. I left my routine in New York City for a four-month journey to culturally expand myself. I didn’t think it would be this difficult.  Being in a foreign country (with few organic foods, no Juice Press, and without the safe haven of my theatre classes) has left a void. Of course, the first week or so was exciting: jumping from bar to club to another club to class and back to the club, but after exhausting my nightlife experiences, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted from traveling abroad. I got sick and ended up binge watching Netflix, which rendered me unable to stop watching even after recovering. So what am I doing? (Ay, there’s the rub…the question that leads to a human being’s automated response: I am worthless).

            However, I know this is not true. I am endlessly worthy of everything and everyone that comes into my life. We all are. When I realized this vicious cycle of subconscious punishment wasn’t benefiting me, I decided it was time to build a routine. So, I found an indoor cycling class (similar to that of which I take in New York) and went the other day. The release of the endorphins frees me of my self-stresses. I love feeling the beat of the music pedaling through my feet. I lose all my inhibitions as if I were dancing at the club with no one looking at me (a similar sensation to when I fully delve into my acting work). I went to another class today. I love classes because once they’re booked and paid for, I’m obligated and no matter how I may feel before, I always feel better after.

            This is only step one for me. I’m still mapping out a routine (around the various trips I’ve planned and will plan while I’m here). Life is different here. I only have my classes once each week and I don’t quite know what I’m doing yet…although paper due dates are creeping up. As long as I silence the negativity in the back of my mind saying “I can’t do it, I’m not worthy,” and I get into my spin classes, and maybe take a dance class here and there, I’m going to succeed. I feel that when I have a routine and keep myself busy, I am happiest and most focused.

            Being across the world has helped me identify what it is that inspires me and makes me feel alive. I’ve taken for granted the availability I had to a healthier lifestyle in America. Sometimes we must go without to realize what it is we have. It is so important to have creative outlets. I’m currently turning to writing since I’m without my usual acting, voice and dance classes. Don’t let the void suck you in, find something that makes you happy and pursue it. No one else is standing between you and what you love–only you. 

Marc Jordan Cohen1 Comment