Enjoy your successes and brush away your losses, playwright and art historian Laura-Jane Foley tells 22 year olds.

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#IfIwere22: I’d realise you don’t get a big break – rather a series of breaks

I always believed I was waiting for my ‘big break’ and it never came. And then a friend in broadcasting let me in on a big secret: There is no one single break. Success is a series of breaks and he pointed out to me just how far along I was on that road. Success builds on success. The longer it takes, the longer it lasts and you can’t lose it overnight.

#IfIwere22: I’d rest on my laurels

I move on from my successes too quickly. On the press night for ‘An Evening with Lucian Freud’, I was talking about the next project, plotting and planning away. I didn’t enjoy the success I had and in my desperation to move on I didn’t take up opportunities offered to me – which I should have done. The play could have gone to an off-Broadway theatre in New York but I didn’t want it to run anymore. I wanted everything to be about my next project. You are allowed to rest on your laurels – especially when the show is still on!

#IfIwere22: I’d realise that rejection doesn’t mean you should give up

I hate rejection (who doesn’t?!). Ignore it. Please don’t let it derail you. It (usually) means nothing. Work hard, edit, re-write and produce your best work. And keep looking for opportunities – or make your own!

#IfIwere22: I’d stay in touch

When you’re 22, you’re keen to get out into the world and move on from university. In your efforts to move onwards and upwards, you may forget to keep in touch with your peers. Never forget that the people you’ve spent three or more years growing up with will become exciting movers and shakers in their field. Keep in touch and who knows what projects may come to fruition many years from now.

#IfIwere22: I’d push myself more and be a nuisance

When I was younger, if someone didn’t reply to me, I’d be embarrassed by the rejection and wouldn’t dream of writing again. And yet, I forget to reply to emails all the time. When people write again after a fortnight or so, I’m grateful they’ve reminded me. If you want to get on, be a nuisance and pester. After working with a group of actors after a read-through, one actress kept in touch quite frequently, enquiring what future castings were coming up etc. I was impressed by her tenacity and whilst I’ve forgotten the names and faces of the rest of the group, I can remember her very well.

Dr Laura-Jane Foley is a playwright and art historian.

Her latest writing project is the exhibition ‘The Shakespeareans: Portraits in Paint and Words’ at The Club at The Ivy from 12 to 19 August 2016.

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Photo of Laura-Jane Foley