13: Don't believe in yourself
In this issue, I won’t tell you about the email I received last week that felt like good news I was unworthy of.
I won’t tell you about the partnership Ebiye and I hope will help get our company (Voix) moving in the direction we so desperately feel we need to be moving in.
I won’t tell you about the podcast episode I voiced for last week and how it’s the first voicing work I have done this year. I won’t tell you how that makes me feel like this year hasn’t been as productive as last. I won’t tell you that I don’t feel as creative, I haven’t made as much podcast output.
I won’t tell you how much I hate the bureaucratic work. All the calls, conversations, and planning. I just want to work. I want to create.
I won’t tell you how much I have fallen behind on the last pitch I got that was accepted and how much work I should have done but haven’t. This is making me realise that perhaps there is a utility for anxiety. It gets the job done.
I won’t tell you about all the tasks that have been on my to-do list for days - weeks - months. I won’t tell you about that.
I will, however, in this issue, tell you that I don’t believe in myself. Haven’t for a while.
Incase you are new here: My name is Mo Isu. I am an audio producer based in Lagos, Nigeria. I am currently attempting to build a career in audio journalism. I have taught myself everything I know so far. You are reading issue 13 of my newsletter detailing this segment of my journey. Read the about page for more
It’s not a cry for help
I use notion for a wide variety of things. At the moment, I am currently using it to plan two trips, research how I might relocate from Nigeria, keep track of my tasks and monitor my workout progress. I use it in many different ways.
One of the ways I use it is to keep lists. Lists of things. I have a list of dishes I’d like to learn how to cook. It’s a list I started two Ramadans ago. There is a list of things I’d like to be able to afford for myself, it includes a house and a trip. I have a list of habits I want to imbibe, like not drinking soda (I am doing very badly.) I have a list of people I’d like to meet. My wish list is there of course.
And then I have this list
People that have believed in me and given me a shot
It’s a short list of people I have worked with and for.
Creative work has no guarantee when you first start out.
You are only exposed to the most successful creative people but most writers are not as successful as Jk Rowling.
In an email checkup I got from a professional acquaintance last week, she mentioned being glad to hear I was still trying to produce stories.
“-this industry is not for the faint-hearted you know, so I don't blame people for jumping off the wagon!”
Without the right support when you first start, many people don’t stick around for it.
Judith was the first person I worked for after graduating from university (not counting a language corpus project I volunteered for.) It was under her that I started to work on podcasts and audio documentaries. And we are still friends today even though I officially left her payroll in 2020. I remember that my resignation email was met with excitement. She asked me what I was going to do next. And what trips I planned on making. I held onto my resignation letter for a few days because I felt that leaving was a little betrayal. I still feel this way about leaving full-term projects, I feel like my leaving is a betrayal.
Nana used to be on my people I’d like to meet lists. Then last year, I reached out to her while working on a podcast story for my old podcast. This put my work on her radar at a time when she was already messing around with the idea for her own podcast. She reached out to me a few weeks later and I have been editing audio for her. Ebiye reached out to me in a similar fashion, he had seen my work.
I met Osione a couple of years ago - at my first ever art exhibition. We would meet again at another exhibition a year later. Since then, we have kept in contact and I reach out to him whenever I am feeling very stumped. He reaches out to me whenever he needs a writer.
Between these four people, I have only been able to keep going because they have believed in me and have let me suck in the process.
Starting out in creation is tough especially if you don’t have support.
I often talk about how I don’t believe in myself. I don’t usually say it in those words but it’s often implied. I express a belief in the amateurish nature of my work. I am not impressed by what I have done. And I can sound very critical of myself.
I think it’s important to know that when I say these things about myself, it‘s not a cry for help.
I am not beating myself up. When I say that I don’t believe in myself, I am not saying that I won’t do anything.
I often talk about how I feel like quitting but I also often follow it up with ‘but I won’t’.
I replied to my friend’s email with
“ - I find that at the moment, I can't get myself to want to do any other kind of work and so persevere I must. “
My friend Bena recently sent me a video she made. She has been messing with the idea of starting her youtube channel again (for the 4th time.)
Bena is someone I admire because of how much she’s put herself into a lot of her interests. She has run a business, She’s won a beauty pageant, She’s been a writer, a Facebook ad manager, and an engineer. She doesn’t recognise these as admirable qualities but there is something to be said about someone who keeps doing exactly what they want.
In the video she sent me, she included a quote from someone talking about not believing in themselves. Everyone says you need to believe in yourself but you don’t. You know what you want to do, there are practical steps towards it. Do that. It doesn’t matter what you believe.
My philosophy on life altogether is pretty similar to this. I spend very little time pondering over the big life questions. Who is God? Why do we exist? There are so many answers to the question of what should you believe. But it doesn’t matter what you believe.
So maybe it’s useful to believe in me. It likely is. But I don’t need to believe in myself to know I want to do something and to try my damn best to do it. So no effort into self-belief today, all effort into doing what I want to have done.
This week, I don’t have any insights into my life. I just know I am not doing it right and I know I will keep trying to.
This week, I am listening to:
Today’s music recommendation is this Igbo highlife group I discovered through Instagram, I absolutely love this album and I have had it on repeat all week.
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And the grand ultimate support, buy me a coffee. I don’t think I would have gotten this far without all the people that have supported me in the past. So here I am again, asking for your kindness.