Looking Back on 2017

Happy 2018 everyone! This past year has definitely not been the best year for me. There have been a lot of challenges, coupled with what feels like a lack of progress in my life and career. However, besides a general ‘meh’-ness, I have no real reason to complain. I am healthy and safe, surrounded by loving support, and working towards my dreams. I even had a couple of great highlights, such as starting university and being chosen as a Sadler’s Wells Social Mover. I made some wonderful memories, too. Even though there were major challenges for me in 2017, it’s challenges that strengthen you and help you to grow, and to prepare you for the things you’re asking for. I want to look back on my 2017 and share some thoughts…


2017 began at full-throttle as I was preparing for audition season. I was filling out application forms, taking photographs and trying to get into my best shape. I started a new job as a teaching assistant at a girls’ secondary school, which I loved, and I reduced my working hours to 3 days a week. I also started teaching for the first time, a ballet club for children aged 5-7.



February saw the beginning of auditions, and I had plenty. As well as London auditions, over the next couple of months I travelled to Glasgow, Manchester and the Scottish highlands to audition. Some went well, others not so well. I had one memorable, and awful, moment at my Royal Conservatoire Scotland audition in which the heel of my pointe shoe slipped off whilst I was doing posé turns on the diagonal (completely alone), and my foot completely twisted out of the shoe!



In the middle of audition season, our landlady decided she was selling our flat and we’d have to move out. We managed to push the date back to March 31st, so that I could finish my auditions, but it definitely made it difficult to focus. On top of that, rejection after rejection from ballet schools were coming through the post. I decided to give up work, because I really needed to focus on dance. It was hard to say goodbye to a job and colleagues I loved, but I knew it was what I needed to do. A couple of days after that, we had to say goodbye to our home. I think this was definitely an awful month in 2017, and to be honest, I never quite bounced back to my usual optimism and positivity.



At the beginning of April, I had stopped working and Jake and I were living temporarily with his parents. We spent two weeks there before staying for another fortnight with a good friend in Shoreditch. I’m so grateful to both Jakes’ parents and our friends for helping us out in our time of greatest need and letting us stay. We didn’t have a lot of time to find a new place, or much money put aside thanks to the abrupt manner in which we were turfed out of our previous home, so we took the first place that looked feasible, a house-share in Morden (which is all the way out in Zone 4 at the end of the Northern line!). It was clean, the other couple were nice, and the room was a really good size, so we took it, and moved in on the last day of April.



I had hoped May might be the end of our worries, now we were in our new home, however this house didn’t, and still doesn’t, feel quite like home to us. We don’t like living so far out of the way, or living in a house share in our twenties. I’d been rejected by most of the courses I’d auditioned for, only receiving offers from the University of Surrey and the University of Roehampton. I chose Roehampton, but I wasn’t yet sure if I’d actually take up my place on the course. I got back in to ballet classes, having been on and off with them throughout all the moving, and re-branded this blog as Dare to Dance!

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Processed with VSCO with c2 preset


The summer was relatively uneventful for me. I kept going to classes, and decided that I would take up my place at Roehampton after all. That gave me something to look forward to, and life plodded along. Jake was working away, I was still struggling on in ballet, and we had lots of lovely days out and adventures. I also launched my YouTube channel!



In September, I started a new chapter of my life and career as I started university. There were highs and lows from the outset, but I loved being a student and having more purpose to my everyday life once again (even though I was crazy busy!). I also was chosen as a Sadler’s Wells Social Mover, which was a massive highlight of my year!



In October, the autumn term really got underway. I learned a lot in my technique classes, made friends, and jumped in a stream for a uni assignment! I also went out on Hallowe’en and Jake and I produced an absolutely stellar Hallowe’en costume of Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra, if I do say so myself! However there was a big downside to all this, and that there was a really weird vibe going on at my ballet school, so I took a little break.




In November, the workload at uni seemed to build into an avalanche, and I turned 25, cueing a big stress-out about my age and career! However I enjoyed some absolutely lovely birthday celebrations and time with family. From mid-November onwards you likely barely heard from me at all as I was completely buried with uni work! I desperately missed ballet, and tried multiple times to reach someone at my school to talk about coming back, however unfortunately they weren’t hearing me. Not doing ballet has really been really hard.




December went much the same way as November, with tons of work, massive stress, and not enough ballet! However, I rolled my sleeves up, got through it, and got it done. I had a lovely Christmas with family, and now I’m out of the other side of all my work and stress and can see the year more clearly. It’s been really hard. I feel like I really lost something when I got so many rejections after auditions, and I felt I lost it all over again when I couldn’t go back to ballet. We also lost what we truly considered our home, and we haven’t quite found it again. However, we are looking forward to moving later in the year, and in the meantime we have a lovely living space where we are. Now that I’ve been able to look back on what has been making me unhappy, I feel cleansed of that negativity. I love the new year, and I really think that I can take the lessons I learned in 2017 forwards into a new stage in my life and career. I’m less concerned about what should, could and might have been, more grateful for everything that I have, and determined to achieve more this year because I know I can, not because I fear not “making it”.


How was 2017 for you guys? I hope that the year treated you well, with opportunities, progress, and good memories. However even if it didn’t, now is the time to take stock and decide what you want to get out of 2018! Let me know in the comments some of the things that stood out for you this year.

In the meantime, I have a few more start-of-year posts planned, including a summary of the amazing performances I saw in 2017, so watch out for those!

Happy new year!

Jessica x

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