Discover more from Act Two
20: What is the title of 2023?
I think it was two Saturdays ago when I got out of bed at about 11 pm with the motivation to get some work done. I can’t now, even, remember what task I completed - likely something small like logging my notes from an interview I conducted recently.
On the ‘Sunday’ that followed, I spoke with a friend of mine about this burst of motivation that I knew with a tinge of certainty was sparked by something that happened that Saturday. The only problem was I couldn’t recollect what it was. What motivated me?
On Monday, when I spoke with another friend and recounted my week, Saturday was a complete blur.
Does this ever happen to you? When you cannot account for an entire day…
What did I do on Saturday?
More than the uneasiness of not remembering my own life (not to encourage my anxiety about developing a degenerative cognitive disease), I actually felt like maybe remembering what this motivator was would help me find a sustainable form of motivation.
That week, as it had passed, had not been a very productive one. Unlike the week that preceded it where I had done maybe 4 days of meeting my focus targets, this week had seen very little in the way of achieving set goals. There were days when I don’t think I completed any meaningful task at all.
There was something on my mind that contributed to this apathy. Something I had hoped for very dearly had been stolen from me and I felt very helpless in the face of it. I did everything that was in my power. I think I did everything right that I could have done right.
I hadn’t had much planned for the start of 2023 apart from this one thing. And in some ways, my pace for 2023 was meant to be set by this thing.
The thing that was stolen from me.
What a rude awakening.
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 most things I know so far. You are reading issue 20 of my newsletter detailing this segment of my journey. Read the about page for more
My friend has a tattoo of a symbol on her wrist. It’s not a well-known symbol like a flower or a star or a zodiac sign. It is however a symbol, like many symbols that people get tattoos of (; being a popular one), that is full of metaphoric symbolism.
When I asked what the tattoo meant, she told me this story, of how one year, there was something she really wanted but could not get. The grave disappointment of wanting, craving, hoping and all of it yielding almost dust. In place of the thing she could not get, she got a tattoo.
This is one of my favourite types of metaphors, the metaphors of great stories hidden behind singular symbols. The painting hanging over my bed is a metaphor like this. I wrote about it on Medium.
One metaphor from this week when I didn’t get what I wanted is the metaphor of shifting and taking something else, in its place.
While I couldn’t manage to achieve the productivity I hoped for, I managed to go to the gym every single day that week.
On some days, it was all I could do to make sure that day counted for something.
Make sure every day counts for something.
I remember that on the days that closed up the week. I woke up not wanting to even do that, to even go to the gym.
But I was there, lifting metal, cycling, in pain, but there.
In place of the thing I could not get, I got this.
I have always enjoyed the part that metaphors played in my life. I like being able to narrow entire complicated ideas and themes into simple sentences.
One of the more recent ones I have imbibed is this phrase
“Make them tell you no”
It discourages the anxiety that prevents us from trying something out of fear that we are not good enough.
We presume someone will tell us no when we can instead make them tell us no. We owe it to ourselves to get the nos.
Another recent metaphor will be the one that attempts to explain what it is I am currently doing with my life and time and work.
The Jig Saw
I like the metaphor of the Jig Saw because it explains the comforting confusion of being at the beginning of something new.
It is confusing to start something.
I have recently been trying to rediscover why it is I started making what I make.
Many readers who were with me through 2022 know from different angles how that year was for me.
Thinking of the year at its end, I did not enjoy that this is what making had become for me. A tale of fear and anxiety and work.
I actually like making things.
I like making things. Money has always been secondary.
It feels like in 2022 while I tried to make sense of the money part, I slipped away from the making part.
As a result, I don’t think I am making progress on either front. I cannot get myself to know what to pitch because I stopped being able to identify what kind of stories I liked telling or what even makes a good story.
It’s been scary.
There are projects I am so behind on that it is embarrassing to even try to complete them.
I should still try.
No - not try
I should still do.
This thing I was meant to get, but did not, it was supposed to set me on the path to rediscovering everything.
If it sounds like I have put too much weight on it, it is because I likely did. I edged my entire year on this thing. I almost quit my last gig with no fallback in expectation of the clarity I expected to get from this thing.
Oh, this thing.
This thing that was stolen from me.
What a rude awakening.
I am starting a weekly journal to attempt to curb one of my biggest personal problems.
Perhaps you are like me, you experience moments of high adrenaline where you set the intention to change your entire freaking life. And it starts out good actually like you start out doing all the right habits and remembering why it is you are doing what you are doing and what your long terms goals are and why those long-term goals require all of this consistent but seemingly unrewarding effort.
But eventually, it fades. The mental motivation and guide fade and then your efforts fade and then you forget what you wanted and you forget what you are meant to do to get it.
This is what I want to curb.
This is my first jigsaw piece.
And I want to do this by regularly checking in on my goals. Constantly remind me of my why and check in on my effort.
So every Sunday night. I will write a journal entry and check in on my past week while also setting my mind for trying again in the new week.
Jig saw one.
Perhaps this is a good title for 2023.
Behind the scene
Before writing this essay, I rewatched the above video (at 2 am on Monday morning because this is when the motivation to follow through came)
From it, I took away something Tobe Nwigwe said.
“I am not going to make an excuse for not doing what I said I was going to do”
I am trying to be more reliable in my work and this is my guiding light. I am not going to make excuses for not doing what I said I was going to do.
Earlier this month, I uploaded the final episode of a podcast I spent parts of last year producing. It is 6 episodes long with each episode running between 7 and 15 minutes long.
It is a non-narrated podcast called “It happened in Nigeria.”
It features stories of moments that change people. Some moments are small, some are big, some are singular, some are scattered over years, and they all happen, as the name suggests, in Nigeria.
You can find it on Spotify, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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This essay was brought to you courtesy of the one cup of coffee I brewed this morning.. You can help me write my next issue by buying me a cup of coffee