It has been just over 10 years since the release of Kate Nash’s debut album. Here, she shares her advice to her 20-year-old self, from self-care to knowing your worth.
It’s been a big year for Kate Nash. Over the last 12 months, the singer, songwriter and actor has turned 30, celebrated the 10th anniversary of her first (and wildly successful) album and cemented her role in the Netflix smash-hit series GLOW with a critically-acclaimed second season.
Essentially, she has come a long way since 2007, when a barely 20-year-old Nash graduated from MySpace hype to BRIT award-winning, record chart topping artist. In the wake of young, straight-talking female voices like Lily Allen, and in the first throes of social media, Nash was welcomed as the indie princess who we gladly let tell us how it was. With a fresh face full of freckles and penchant for vintage tea dresses, she was an addictive mix of attitude and adorable.
In the aftermath of her initial success, she continued creating music but pursued a different sound, which kept her loyal band of followers engaged – so much so that they helped her raise the money she needed to create her fourth album, which was released last year. Elsewhere, in GLOW, she has burst onto our screens as the leggy, overtly British model-come-wrestler Rhonda, a role which has stretched Nash’s talents and physicality to the limit.
But as she’s been navigating her way through the ladders and potholes of fame, Nash has been investing in something deeper than having a name in lights: learning the art of self-love.
A well of reflection and brimming with empowering advice, listening to Nash talk about her journey with “self-worth, self-love and realising I’m worth something” – not to mention drop truth bombs like “you need to cut f**king toxic people out of your life” – is like getting a pep talk from the friend you most turn to in times of trouble.
Here, Nash takes us through what she’s learned over the last decade and the advice she would give her younger self, including the importance of self-care, the need to create boundaries and realising that it’s never too late to change careers.
On making it in the music industry
“I don’t wish I had done things differently, because I’m such a believer of everything happens for a reason. However, there are a couple of things I would give as advice to people coming out and trying to make it in the music industry.
Firstly, it’s important to build a relationship with fans. Having a connection with fans is a huge source of power for an artist. That’s what’s kept my career going for this long. I am only able to do a Kickstarter, and put out records independently, because I have such a strong connection with my fans. I have nurtured that over the years because it’s so important to me.
Secondly, I spent a lot of time making sure I had a good live show and knowing who I was an artist – and I did this before I met with songwriters and producers, as things can get confusing after that.
Thirdly, make your mental health a focus. When I first started out, I was around a lot of people who weren’t doing that, or weren’t encouraging me to think about that at all, and it wore quite heavy on me. There seems to be a lot more awareness around that now which is great, but I would advocate people to identify what their therapy is – whether it’s actual therapy, or taking breaks, or not using a phone for a week and staying in the woods. Whatever it is, it’s essential to make health a priority because it’s really worth it.”
On mental health
“I struggle with OCD and anxiety, but it took me a long time to get a diagnosis, as I used to think that everybody had a brain like mine. I wish I had been more in tune with my feelings, and more aware of mental health issues, when I was younger.
There’s no education about emotional and mental wellbeing at school, so we just don’t even know to look for these signs. Most people just find themselves in a pit, or a bad mental situation before they realise they have any problems, because no one’s learning about it. We don’t know what the signs are, we don’t know what to look for, we don’t know what means what.
I would advocate for more education: that’s why I like to talk about mental health publicly, at my shows and in my music. I think that, if people are aware of it, it’s something that could change their lives, because they can start taking care of themselves in a way that they didn’t know they had to. Sometimes people end up in very dangerous situations because they didn’t realise how bad things were.”
On prioritising self-care
“Therapy is so important. I’ve had it when I’ve gone through really difficult experiences, but I’m actually in a place where I think I need to go back to therapy and get a regular therapist. Sadly, I’m not always in one place which makes it bit difficult.
Meditation, though, is really accessible. Therapy can cost a lot of money and not everyone has access to that, but with meditation, it’s easy to just download an app. People can learn to do that for their rest of your lives and it can really help.”
“I learned the importance of physical exercise through GLOW: it’s good to do something that makes me feel strong and tires me out mentally as well. Rock climbing is really good. Not only is climbing walls physically taxing, but there’s a mental workout there, too: I’m figuring out placement, figuring out how to get to the top… my mind is on fire.
Finally, one of the best things I have ever done for myself is cut f**king toxic people out of my life. And I don’t just mean toxic romances: friendships can be really hard, too. Sometimes it’s even harder to break up with a friend. It’s all about having boundaries, which is something I didn’t learn about until I was 26.
That comes down to self-value and self-love, and accepting myself for who I am. It’s fine to have goals and want to strive to have things that we don’t have yet, but we also need to accept ourselves for who we are right now: that person is really yearning for love and acceptance.”
On how to feel empowered
“I would say to my younger self: drink less and start saying no to people. Also, decide how you want to be treated, and refuse to let anyone cross that line. I know myself, and I always want to see the best in someone. This means that, in the past, I have convinced myself that I understand why they’re so tortured and treating me like s**t – but f**k that. It’s fine to be empathetic and understand why someone’s behaving badly, but it’s not OK to make excuses for them. I wish I could have stood up for myself more and said ‘I’m OK and I’m not doing anything wrong here’.
At 20, there were people in the music industry who were running me ragged and working me like a donkey. They weren’t giving me any breathing space, expecting me to act like an adult when I was barely out of my teenage years, and expecting me not to fall apart.
I think they were also looking at the speed culture of my success and not thinking about the longevity of my career. I had a manager that was very disrespectful. They acted really inappropriately and unprofessionally and invited a lot of drama into my life. I wish I had fired him sooner.
For anyone in that position, my advice is that firing people is definitely the right thing to do. Especially if someone is s**t, or crazy, or having a negative influence.”
On knowing your worth
“When I was a bit younger, I didn’t realise that some of the guys I was dating were so mean, and lame, and unsupportive. I felt like I needed a boyfriend. Now, though, I know the importance of self-worth and self-love: I’m worth something, and I know that I don’t need to date.
I think a lot of girls are really good at that now, there seems to be a culture of self worth. It’s happening online, I don’t know how much it’s rubbing off into reality but hopefully it does. I wish I had had more confidence in myself. I had a lot of confidence in making friends and talking to people and doing what I wanted to do, but with who I was dating I didn’t have a lot of confidence.”
On changing career
“I was definitely nervous about going into a different industry, but I was so excited and embraced it. I’m quite good at just going ‘I want to do this now’ and thinking I totally can experience that. I deserve to and have the right to because I’m just human, and we all can experience anything we want to or apply ourselves to.
I’m such an encourager of quitting a job if someone doesn’t like it. I worry that one day I’m going to be 80 and think, ‘why didn’t I do that?’ I won’t care about the things in my life that I care about now, and looking back there are moments that seemed like the scariest thing ever and they’re just a blip now.
There’s no time to waste, we’ve got one life and we should be getting happiness from every aspect of it. It can be any job that brings me happiness, but it needs to be what I’m interested in. A lot of the time it’s the people I’m working with, so even if it’s like I hate these people and I really like this job but I’m not enjoying the working environment don’t be afraid to try new things.
I think fearless people and taking new risks leads into new areas. I don’t think I’d be here doing GLOW if I hadn’t been taking risks the whole time.”
The season of GLOW is available to watch on Netflix now.
Images: Getty / Netflix