Pay no mind to the hierarchy

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Jo Randerson and Thomas LaHood for Soft N Hard - photo supplied.
Photo supplied.
The one and only Jo Randerson pores over her past and gives us her best retrospective advice

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Keep your eyes peeled

Hey, 22 year old self. I want you to know that you are doing great. Yup, I know it feels crappy and confusing, often painful, and I know that money is very tight, but you are on a path of great richness and if you pay attention to the voices deep within yourself, you can hear them saying how amazingly full this life is going to be – because it already is. Because the signs are there, even if you don’t fully trust them yet. So keep going; you are on the right track - even if most of your friends are heading off in other directions. You are going to find others who think like you in the undergrowth. Some are just resting high up in the trees. And they might not look like what you think they are going to look like, so keep your eyes peeled. 

You’ll go through the crucible

You are right to be following your own sense of what is of value in this world. I know you are going to beat yourself up in the following years because you didn’t get this grant, this prize, this opportunity. You are going to believe, like so many others, that those external validations of success bear a total correlation to your own ability. But you are going to come through this crucible with an artistic confidence that does not rely on anyone else’s opinion of how well you are doing. You are going to decide for yourself what your own benchmarks are for your creations, with the help of your spirit guides, your whānau and friends, and the people who experience your work. So please don’t be put off by people with loud opinions – often people who like to tell you what’s wrong with your efforts are actually trying to give that message to themselves. It’s okay to listen and to just let it wash over you, just taking whatever is helpful for you and letting the rest float away. 

Jo Randerson and Thomas LaHood for Soft N Hard - photo supplied.

Pay no mind to the hierarchy

 I also would suggest that you give up on your belief in a sense of ‘right’. I know that you have been raised in a system which grades you, judges you, likes to give you some definitive opinion on how well you are doing. There is a patriarchal system around you that places everything into a hierarchy. And I know you want to ‘do well’ within that structure. But some of the things at the top of that hierarchy are exploitative, unfair, and don’t match with your values of love and kindness towards every living creature, towards every piece of the natural world. If you really want to ‘succeed’ then the closest thing to that is to exist in your own self, in your own right, as fully as this existence on planet earth will allow you to. This is what real winning is – just being the truest authentic version of yourself. 

Honour your life rafts 

If you have this deep sense of calmness and confidence in yourself, then it will help you be kinder to others you meet – because they are also just struggling away with their own life challenges and their own particular and unique pathways. So that’s what I say to you, 22-year-old self – believe in yourself, because you’re doing great, and be very kind to yourself, which will allow you to be very kind to others. So keep going, enjoying all the laughs that you can on the way, because gags are THE BEST – music and laughter are life rafts that carry you through the tough times.

Jo Randerson is a New Zealand writer, director and performer. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Barbarian Productions, a Wellington-based theatre production company. 

Jo’s upcoming play ‘Like A River’, directed by Stef Fink, will be opening in Auckland on July 23rd. For more info and tickets click here! Jo Randerson and Thomas LaHood’s Soft N Hard, will also be coming to Q Theatre from the 20th of August.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

23 Jul 2019

The Big Idea Editor

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