As January comes to an end and 2016 comes into full swing, it’s harder than ever to make those New Year’s resolutions stick. So to keep you motivated and inspired, we caught up with Donnie Nicolson, a musician and entertainer from Scotland, who has bravely and determinedly overcome obstacles in his life to truly eXceL by making a profession our of his passions.
“After graduating from university, I was making a living by strumming my guitar in half-empty bars in Glasgow before I decided to pack my bag and head to Spain in search of greater adventure. When I arrived in Barcelona (now the better part of a decade ago), I hardly had two coins to rub together, so I began teaching English to adults. Very soon I was working full-time in a language academy.
One day, a friend of mine (a primary school teacher), joked that it would be a fun idea for me to come and speak to her pupils about Scotland. Before I knew it, I was standing in a gym hall wearing my kilt and describing haggis to an assembly of curious eight-year-olds. And that’s when I had the brilliant idea.
If these children were interested in Scottish culture (and they seemingly were!), then maybe they'd like to learn some Scottish dances too! Being the true Scotsman that I am, I can of course play the bagpipes. I put together an interactive show that involved dancing, singing, bagpipes and stories from Scotland. I soon thought that perhaps I could actually make a living out of it!
However, I realised that committing to this would involve facing my biggest fear: my lack of self confidence. It would mean putting myself out there day after day, in front of big crowds of people. My self-esteem problem tends to be at its worst when it comes to promoting myself and convincing others that I'm worth their time and money.
They say the best way to overcome a fear is to face it head on - so that is exactly what I did. I had career coaching sessions which inspired me to fulfil my dream of being a roving Scottish dance teacher and it gave me the drive to get out there and start promoting my activity to schools.
With help and inspiration from my friend David Vivanco, I now have a workshop that involves ceilidh dancing, music, singing and stories about Scotland. It’s fun, it’s educational and the kids love it! I travel around Spain and have even visited Poland, dancing and singing with groups of over 100 teenagers at a time.
I have truly never been happier with my work - it combines all of the things I love: travel, music, dancing and sharing positive energy with young people. And best of all, it means I can stay in touch with my Scottish identity while living in Spain.”
If you have a New Year's resolution and plan and eXceL in 2016, you can enter our competition! We're giving the best submission one of our Organic T-shirts and a Performance T-shirt! Find out how to get involved here.