Conclusion and Reflection - My 10 year challenge
So that's that.
Christmas is done for another year.
2019 is behind us and we stand before 2020
So as many of us are back to normality from today and 2020 will officially kick I thought lets kick off 2020 with a reflection.
And as my ‘being enough’ series comes to an end I thought a summary was needed.
A conclusion so to speak.
See when I first started the blog and this series I never in my wildest dreams thought it would have the impact and resonance that it’s had.
As I state in my blog outline
‘I started to write about my experiences and life lessons in the hope that it may offer a reader some hope, guidance, laughter or a combination of all’
And that was it.
That’s all the aim was.
If one person would read it and not make the same mistakes that I made then it was worth it.
My job was done so to speak.
But over the past 4 months its grown and resonated with so many people and messages and comments began to pour in.
Messages from people of all ages and experiences.
Comments of love and admiration for my story and how its relatable to other peoples experiences was truly overwhelming.
I feel that if we can understand the human condition then we are in a far greater position to empathise with each other and appreciate the unique journeys that we are all on.
We can begin to comprehend the different lives that we all live.
So as I close this series and summarise ‘Being Enough’ it would be that no matter what choices or decisions you make, YOU are enough.
Second chances are always possible as long as you work at them and want them.
We will all make mistakes in life as we mediate this crazy journey of living.
Theres no manual on life and how to live it.
Theres no guidebook to what life throws at us.
Like being a parent, a friend, a sibling, a professional even a human being.
We’re all learning as we go along.
So learn from your mistakes, be patient with yourselves and never worry that you’re not good enough because no matter who you are or whatever situation you find yourself in, You’ll always be enough for someone out there.
So as you enter the new decade of 2020s you can find the 3 part series below if you haven’t read them already
The ‘Being Enough’ series
BUT then reflecting over my story as I went back through these blogs made me think of how far I’ve come and as we close this decade out and roll in to the 2020s with the whole 10 year challenge taking off, I thought it was fitting to sum up this decade.
To reflect on how far I’ve come since that time in my life where the first blog stemmed from.
At the start of the decade I was running from my past self. (Quite literally)
The decisions I had made.
Running from my mistakes.
Running from a broken heart.
Searching for an identity.
Searching for a father to help give me an identity.
Trying to find myself.
Trying to find who I was.
I ran away to university to stay out of trouble
A 3 year suspended sentence and a 3 year acting course made perfect sense.
3 years of no trouble.
But whilst I was there something profound and unexpected happened. I made friendships and relationships that would change me at my core and help evolve and develop me into the young man that writes this now.
I became part of a Wolfpack with 3 of the greatest young minds (Dave,Luke and Fred) that i’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. Who each individually brought out the best traits in me at uni because I mirrored it from them.
The laughter, the understanding, the fun, the fights and the love we had as housemates and brothers, and the time we spent on that crazy adventure HAS and always WILL stay with me as it changed me.
It’s made me appreciative of friendship and the bonds that makes.
It simmered the raging fire of anger I carried with me for so many years because I was accepted by this group for who I was, mistakes as well.
I also met Fenn whose maturity and perspective on life makes him a voice that I truly value.
And through My Rach (More on her later) I've met David and what's more to say about David other than every single person needs a David in their life. Someone who will go out of their way to make sure that you're ok with kindness and compassion in every fibre of their being
The bond I developed with Luke is beyond words. His free spirit, humour and talent has inspired me and pushed me and thats why almost 10 years later after initially meeting each other we retain that brotherhood. And quote movie references until there’s no tomorrow.
As well as brothers in a Wolfpack I’ve also met ‘sisters’ over the past decade at uni and in my career in the form of a few close and meaningful relationships again which have empowered my change.
Kat - You will always be my Rihanna dancing buddy and your belief in others and in me is something I value beyond anything.
Charlotte - Whats there to say? You are one of the kindest and most funny people i’ve got in my life. Your drive is like no other and your ability to care about those close to you is a trait I can admire with all my being. You’re one of my best friends and there’s no one i’d rather watch a Will Ferrell movie with
Emma - Quite literally my uni sister. Your heart is like no other and your compassion is unmatched. Your advice and guidance led me through many hard times.
Kiera - Whose cackle warms my heart in the darkest of days and whose light can brighten up the darkest place on earth.
Josie - Whose energy, bravery and outlook on life is like no other.
Roanna - My Wakandan Rapunzel :) Whose courage and strength is one of the fiercest traits I know and love in all of my ‘sisters’
At uni I also met My Rach and to say that my life and my being changed as a result of that would be an understatement. One of the most gentle and loving people I’ve ever met whose kindness for others, whose bubbly energy and ability to see the good in every single person has made me a better person, a better human being. You make me never want to be the person I was before. You make me want and strive for better each and every day.
The adventures we've been on during this decade, The changes we've gone through and the journey we continue to go on is why I have to thank you more than anyone because so much of the man I have grown to be is down to you
To quote your favourite musical Wicked -
“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better
I do believe I have been changed for the better
And because I knew you
I have been changed for good”
I graduated from uni and acquired a degree during this past decade.
My ‘theatre mum’ gave me my first professional job after graduating and took a risk casting a recent graduate with no experience in a leading Shakespeare role. I’m forever grateful for that opportunity and for the continuing support you give. And many other directors have expanded my understanding of my craft and what it means to be a creative so to each and every single one of you too ... THANK YOU.
Ive forged a successful acting career with prestigious companies and theatres since graduating. To stand on some of the greatest stages in Wales and beyond has been a blessing and to every single person that has contributed in whatever way, I thank you for the opportunity and experience you’ve given me.
Its only enhanced my craft and made me a greater creative and a better human being.
Wether its big or small it has been invaluable to me.
Ive been on the telly this decade.
I became part of the Argos tribe and with that, met phenomenal people who have supported me on this journey and ones I would now consider friends.
Shoutout to Jane and Paul for believing in me all those years ago and allowing a young graduate to pursue his dreams. I'll never forget that.
Amy, Katherine, Dom, Kie Woods, Josh, Sal, Emma, Ryan and all the others who have been amazing and have made many shifts enjoyable.
Ive started writing and have been grateful to have been mentored by a BOSS that has given me so much support and nurturing that I wouldn’t be in a position where i’m having my debut professional play produced in 2020.
Ive also been invited onto writers groups with the fricking Royal Court and BBC Wales!!
Now if you had said to me at the start of the decade that I would have accomplished half of what I have and made the relationships that I have along the way I would have laughed in your face.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think any of this was possible
I’m just a kid from a council estate in Newport who many thought would be in prison or in constant trouble with the authorities so to stand here in 2020 as a success and an inspiration is something beyond what I ever imagined I could’ve achieved.
Reflecting on the second chance I was given and the rehabilitation I’ve gone through to be in a position to write this.
I got engaged to the woman that changed me for good and learnt what sacrifice and compromise are all about this decade. As we continue to forge our way through life together.
Went on many adventures over the past 10 years and matured with my cousin Cynthia whose loyalty and dedication and ability to do anything for literally anyone makes her not only one of the smartest but one of the best women in my life.
Ive gone to weddings during this decade (love a good wedding!) and saw happiness and love in the eyes of my friends and brothers.
Ive been blessed to have so many friends and family have children during this past decade.
Jaz you followed in the footsteps of all the formidable badass women in our family like our mothers to become a strong willed mother in your own right and I couldn't be more proud of you.
Shauna, Kim, Liza, Naomi, Sarah you all grew into amazing independent women and showed me what true resilience looks like and the meaning of what strong, durable parents are.
I hope when I become a parent i'm a fraction of the parents you are.
You're QUEENS in every sense of the word.
James I hope I'm as good a father as you are to Charlotte because you have shown me what a real hero looks like. (Not All heroes wear capes as they say) You're commitment to your daughter and your wife is why your the best man I know.
And this decade also bought my little bundle of best friend joy in Jace who’s pushed my capacity to love beyond what I thought it could ever be.
I’ve watched my Goddaughter grow into an enthusiastic young woman whose intensity is why she’s going to be a judo champion someday
My biggest takeaway from this decade just gone has to be the relationship I have worked at and maintained with both my mum and my younger brother. The closeness we have developed and the love we now share is something that we’ve had to work at through love, kindness and appreciation of where each one of us are at.
Being able to watch them grow and mature with ease and understanding is all I could ever dream of.
My ability to change and my appreciation of the effect that others can have on me has made my growth over the past decade one that has been so organic and is one that I hope can give belief to many others who are relating to my words.
Never underestimate the power others can have on you.
Over these past 10 years from the effects of everyone mentioned and so many more, I grew from a teenager consumed with rage to a young man bursting with passion.
And as I enter a new decade with new ambitions and goals, All I say is don’t judge me by my past, judge me by the content of my character.
Judge me by the man I have now become.
Because that man is down to each and every single one of you.
Big or small.
Every person that pushed me, that challenged me, that supported me.
Every person that believed in me
From the streets of Hammond Drive to the stages of The Royal Exchange
Because at long last I’ve found myself and who I’m meant to be.
I’m Connor Allen
I’m an Afro headed, mixed race, multi talented king.
Because that’s who my mum raised me to be.
With no help or support of a man.
With all the troubles and grief she went through, she took every blow, held her head way up high and powered through it all to bring up two young men who have exceeded all expectations that were stacked against us to make our mum proud.
That’s who all the above people and so many more have helped mould over the past decade.
A true king in every sense
To every single person who has come on this journey the past decade with me and has influenced my journey in any way, shape or form….. THANK YOU!
No matter how big or significant, wether its was a simple conversation or supporting my craft it has ALL contributed.
And I hope you all stick with me in the next decade as I take on new challenges and grow into a better man.
A better human being
A better version of myself.
Roll on the next decade
And if my journey can do anything I hope it can show you that YOU and YOU alone forge your own path and make your own choices and what makes that easier and better is the help and support from a trusted circle to guide and nurture you.
Be patient with yourselves in the next decade
Be kind to yourselves and take the time to celebrate the good times and the triumphs because you need to celebrate success and success comes in many different forms and sizes.
We’re all going to make mistakes as we mediate through the next decade of our lives because we are only human.
It’s about how you respond to those mistakes.
How you let them effect you and become better because of it.
Just be yourself.
We’re all on different journeys, taking different paths and making different choices and that’s OK.
I’m living proof of that.