14: Starting again
It’s clear to me, yet again, that I should be working harder. I should be working harder than I currently am. There are a few things I want to do, a few things I have started, but have since fallen off from. I have lacked follow-through.
I think I get to this place every couple of months, sometimes weeks. It’s a rolling experience for me. I am constantly getting my life together. Constantly starting afresh. I am constantly getting to the place where I feel like now is the time to take my life more seriously.
In 2017, I was able to articulate this for the first time. I live my life in short bursts of adrenaline. The longevity that comes with the conviction of lifelong improvement never seems to come for me. The thing that happens and makes me take my life seriously happens every two months. I know this.
I know now that I must yet again, take my life seriously. It’s time for another adrenaline burst.
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 14 of my newsletter detailing this segment of my journey. Read the about page for more
Spoiler alert: The next 5 articles
I want to say we are entering a new phase of this newsletter. A few issues ago, I made the resolution to rewrite the narrative of my work life - changing it from one led by anxiety to one led by competence.
After more than 6 months of documenting my anxiety in the way this newsletter has made me, it is starkingly obvious how much work I procrastinate because of my anxieties. In one issue, I was able to articulate the sabotaging nature of this pattern of behaviour. I am trying to change that about myself.
In a recent feedback session that one of the teams I am a part of had, I was advised to ‘procrastinate less’ by the two people who knew me best.
“Plan, be realistic, bring up issues before they become problems.”
If Aisha, who I work with on a different team, heard this feedback I got, she would nod aggressively in agreement. The thing that tarnishes the experience of working with me isn’t the quality of my work, it is the quality of my execution. The quality of my competence.
On a call recently, with a friend of mine, the question of what personal problem I was currently facing in life came up. This is not a question or an issue I am usually interested in talking about. My personal essays might not give it away but I struggle greatly with talking about myself, especially when phrased as direct questions.
The nature of this conversation however forced me to answer. I did not have to think too long or deeply to know what the answer would be. It was already at the top of my mind because it had been occupying most of my passive attention for some time.
My two problems at the moment are these:
Competence. I need to be more competent. Simple.
I need to get more focused work done. My favourite type of work is creative and creative work requires long stretches of focus. I have found that I have not been able to hold long periods of focus. A problem I spoke about in issue 12
The upcoming issues of the newsletter will feature the stories that happen around my intent to fix these problems. They will break down the plans I make, the thoughts I have, the struggles I face and the lessons I learn.
At the moment, I have a number of drafts started. I can tell you what some of them are about. The one I expect to come out first is called competence. It will not get to your inbox for at least two more weeks.
It takes the ideas for this newsletter some time to be fully formed before I can complete the draft that eventually gets published. For competence, I started thinking of that idea three weeks ago and will continue to work on it for another week or two.
I have a draft here about how to focus and another about the practice of giving advice. There is one on inconsistency and another on the concept of aggregating at the bottom. Teose essays are coming soon but before all of them, I will recap how far we have come with this newsletter.
I cannot tell you that this newsletter will continue to land in your inbox every Thursday but I plan to make sure there is one every week.
This is the point where I start again. This is a new adrenaline burst.
I should mention (in form of a recommendation) that the feeling of this newsletter is in some ways influenced by the latest issue of Vistanium. In this essay, Fu’ad Lawal tells the story of how a product (Flutterwave Store) came to be. The essay reminded me of the feeling of work that I first fell in love with. The one you see in movies about products. Movies like the Social Network. It describes how working on something you care about with other people who care about it feels like working in a lab. It in fact uses that exact word.
“For most of its first three years, Flutterwave worked like a lab. They told everyone listening, “We’ll help you process payments.” People need payments for all kinds of things, so they built features for all sorts of needs”
I think I miss that feeling. The feeling of simply enjoying work, of being deeply engrossed in it, deeply excited by it. I don’t think I have felt that way in a long time. I am starting to be scared that that’s a feeling I might never get from my current type of work. From audio production and writing.
I am reminded that I can love my work deeply, deeply enough to be consumed by it. Deeply enough to care about it, to be obsessed with it, to spend long hours doing it. Not in a toxic way where I no longer have a personal life but in a fulfilling way that brings me joy and rest. I feel like I have stumbled away from that in the past year and a half as the anxiety of making money has taken over my life. Even now, I am trying to make enough money to afford my own apartment and instead of concentrating on some passion projects, I am focusing on what the next task I can complete for money can be. It’s all very sad.
In a way, this phase of the newsletter is about me rediscovering this feeling. Rediscovering flow.
Something happened recently. Someone that has been reading this newsletter for a couple of weeks replied to my last issue and said hi to me. And told me about what this newsletter has meant for him. That meant such a great deal to me. So in this one, I would like to start a (hopefully) long-running culture of engagement with you the readers.
Reply to this email and tell me a little about yourself and why you read Act Two. I am curious.
While you are here, I am also curious to know if you care about the regularity of this newsletter. Do you prefer knowing exactly at what time and on what day to expect a new issue? Or are you fine with the surprise of seeing a new issue in your inbox? I really would love to know.
This week, I am listening to:
Music: Dj Khaled - Major Key
I recently found out that Dj Khaled released a new album. This made me realise that I haven’t listened to any of that man’s projects since Major Key which I loved very deeply. So, instead of catching up with the newer projects, I decided to relive the old days. Major Key is still such a great body of work.
Podcast: Dolly Parton’s America
This is probably my 4th or 5th listen by this point. I relisten to this podcast mini-series every couple of months to be reminded of just how brilliant storytelling can sound. The description reads
“In this intensely divided moment, one of the few things everyone still seems to agree on is Dolly Parton—but why? That simple question leads to a deeply personal, historical, and musical rethinking of one of America’s great icons.“
It is a work of art.
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