On Wednesday 3rd March, the Arts and Humanities Alumni Panel saw four panelists gather to discuss the growing variety of routes into different creative careers. Agata Kowalczyk was one member of this panel discussion.
Agata Kowalczyk is a Writer and Yogi. She completed King’s College London Text and Performance Studies course in 2011.
Firstly, can you provide a brief outline of your current role - the expectations, skills and requirements needed.
I am a writer and a healing practitioner. In 2018, 7 years after the graduation took place, I made one of the very first truly conscious steps towards becoming passionately independent: I set up my own company. All of the three words seemed both scary and deeply empowering to me at that time. Company was something that I saw as coming with responsibility. My had a strong undertone of liberty (which felt both like something I truly wanted, and something that I was subconsciously avoiding, as it was taking the space of all the blaming and complaining, that somehow became known to me, making me feel safe). And own was already exposing its unrestricted capacity to put me back in meaningful touch with the fullness of my potential.
It took a lot of courage to take that step – but it brought even more of it once the decision has been made. It fueled me from within, helping me dive deep into my hidden resources. Every other step would bring me closer to a more and more secure and openly joyful This is it. And indeed – it required a lot of responsibility, but the more I would confront myself with it, the less fearful I felt. I gave up the confrontation – and embraced taking on responsibility. It sounded like something obvious. But it never showed itself as such. The moment I gave myself the right to stop looking at things via the common perception, they would show themselves in a completely different light. The responsibility I consciously decided to be taking took me by surprise with the joy and gratitude it evoked. It did not become so immediately, though – it stemmed from something that as an entrepreneur I hold very dear to my heart: taking the time to recognize my inner voice first (which in my case came through the practice of yoga and meditation) – and (slowly but consistently) trusting its lead. The more self-aware I would become, the easier it became to find strength and authentic joy in taking on the responsibility for my words and actions. Running a company became a means of self-expression. And yes, it also came with a great number of twists and turns, I’ll say it openly. But the more at peace I felt with myself (deepening the reestablished connection with my own voice), the more skillful I found myself to be at letting go. Of the fear of the unknown, and of expectations. These two were some of the most serious factors holding me back from doing the things I love (in a way that makes me truly love them). The art of letting go, developed with patience, became an indescribably powerful release of my capacities as an entrepreneur.
Why did you choose the MA Text and Performance Studies course? And why at King’s College?
King’s idea behind the (creation of the) MA in Text and Performance Studies and its collaboration with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art has touched me to my truest and deepest passion. It always felt clear to me when I would think about theatre, that this is the Path. But for many years I could not decide whether the role I should take on is practical – like becoming a director – or theoretical (like becoming a critic). They both seemed truly mine, even though at that time I did not know yet how these two aspects could work together. The courses in my homeland (Poland) did not offer a combination of what I really felt like pursuing. The MA at King’s came as a perfect answer to that. An answer which I could not even imagine existing. The theoretical part of it was studied at King’s. The practical one – at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which collaborated with KCL, offering us, as students, a joint degree. Two worlds which seemed to be detached from one another became united by the Text and Performance Studies. It exceeded my vision, letting me open myself up to a whole new dimension of working with art. I remember that even my Master’s thesis was something that made me feel so truly alive (which was deeply surprising to me, as in fact it was an academic work that is being assessed) – I wrote a play along with the so called critical analysis of the creative process. It started to shake me off of my existing paradigms, leading me towards conscious, deeply rooted and fully unrestricted flow of artistic expression.
It began with the pursuit of passion, which King’s free/creative approach supported in a truly liberating (and such a grounding) manner. And then I looked at the University as such. And it felt like home. Like a place I belong to. It is the kind of relationship that cannot be even questioned, nor described. You just feel deep inside that this is it. On many occasions a question would arise, whether I did not feel intimidated by how remarkable King’s is as an educational institution. Whether I did not doubt myself or my chances to become one of its students. When I look at it in hindsight, I am deeply touched. By the courage that led me. It stemmed from trusting that feeling inside, that inner voice which makes it clear. And this trust is something that I am eternally grateful for, for I feel honored to be a King’s alumna.
How the MA Text and Performance Studies course prepared you for this role? And were any transferable skills that you developed during your MA which still help you today?
It began to liberate me from the serious trap of seeing the leading value externally. I remember that at the beginning of the course I would hold on tightly to the notion of becoming capable of sharing my skills and capacities due to becoming a holder of an MA diploma. There’s an unspoken quest for being precise with what makes one an artist. What is enough. It can leave one hurt very deeply (and seriously), especially when we speak about people of high sensitivity (which artists are). One of my dear friends (also a King’s alumna – we met thanks to King’s, sharing an apartment at the GDSA, KCL’s student accommodation) asked me one day Agata, who is a writer?. And seeing my hesitation, she went further with A writer is someone who writes. And this, I believe, became one of the pillars of the real art: The art of letting go. The notion that kept me trapped was only present in the mind. Yet it ruled over. The more I would feed my mind with stimuli (including the anxiously accumulated new pieces of knowledge, techniques to follow to become successful), the less confident (and peaceful) I would feel. There came a moment where I would need to put myself in a role of an observer of my own life. It felt as if being out of control at first. Yet it created so much space to start living (with joy and heart-touching peace) what beforehand was only being learnt and known.
I used to think of How far I can make it thanks to a diploma of King’s. Once the tensions released (as the primary focus went inwards, with the support of meditation and yoga), my thinking switched naturally to How deep can I dive into myself to make the very true best of all that King’s has offered to me? How can I tap into my strengths and courage to share openly what I have been given and make the KCL’s beautiful message of make a change to the world my reality?. It’s a tremendous joy to experience such a shift. It’s very liberating. And all the potential truly starts to expose itself with trust.
If you could give any advice to students currently enrolled on a course at King’s, but with aspirations to join the Art’s & Cultural Heritage Sector, what would it be?
Find your inner voice, your Truth. Let it speak to you. Let it become your greatest Teacher. And take it from there. Once you truly and openly trust yourself, you’ll find yourself naturally trusting others (and the world as such). And this will open the gates for others to come to you for your services.
And let yourself get lost – for it is a great way to truly find yourself.
What is not shared, is lost – I heard at an important stage of my life. In 2019 I joined my Teachers’ team. I could not recommend the services they share enough. And I won’t even try. If you hear that calling from within, feel free to let it guide you: