A vulnerable conversation with myself about writing
I’ve been struggling to write lately. Even though it’s almost the end of the year, I only have a few scattered ideas and half-formed thoughts. It’s frustrating because I know writing is important to me. It’s a way to reflect on my experiences, explore my thoughts and emotions, and make sense of the world around me. But lately, I can’t seem to get started.
A friend suggested that I write about my experience with writing, and I think that’s a good idea. Reflecting on my writing journey, I may find clarity and motivation to start writing again.
When I was a child, my world was pretty small. I lived on a farm with my family in a small building in the corner of an acre. I remember racing “first to get to the front door” with my family. My idea of the world was limited to what happened within our compound. But my dad was a great storyteller, telling us stories about trips, people, and parties. At some point, I started to doubt how real the stories were 😭😂. My mom would buy us books and movie CDs, and anything she thought would get us to engage with the world and learn more than we had direct access to. Even though I wasn’t a big reader, and my father’s stories were more fun than informative then, my world got a little bigger.
When I was six, I learned how to take the bus all by myself to visit my cousins. Walk to the beginning of the street, get a bus to the major junction, get another bus to Ojodu Berger, and make sure to get to the last stop. Get the final bus and tell the driver, “I am going to Agege, LSPDC phase 1. Once it was time to get off, I shout, “O wa oh!” which directly translates to “There is oh”, to signal to the conductor that I was already at my stop in front of Grandma’s estate.
My newfound mobility opened up a new world of TV, the internet, and games I couldn’t access before. I was obsessed with going now that I wasn’t bound by my parents being available to take me there. It was always so lovely to meet my cousins. They were adults but not as adulty as my parents 😇. My cousins expanded my view of the world, but at this point, it was my house, my cousin’s house, my church and my primary school.
It wasn’t until I got to secondary school that I started to feel like my world was truly expanding. From age 9/10, children, just like me, had oddly specific tastes and conversations about music, art, books, and movies. They made scrapbooks, lyric books, and comic books. I made my first conscious decision to write here. I started journaling, reflecting on my day and my thoughts. I mused about my life like I was in a movie. Everyone I interacted with had a new name every day. In long prose form, I’d write about my day diligently. Writing helped me explore my experiences and ask questions about the world. Looking back, I’ve appreciated reflection for a while now.
Reflecting on my experiences and conversations just left me with more questions. How do these people know so much about random things? How come they are not only interested in schoolwork? Is it because I don’t have a phone? Is it because I don’t watch enough TV?
In 2015, I was at the University of Ibadan studying Economics. If I ever thought my world was small before then, I wasn’t prepared for University. I realized that there was still so much I didn’t know. I felt left out of my peers' conversations as they were plugged into a wider world I wasn’t a part of. Frankly, I felt so left out of it. Worse, I couldn’t find a way to connect to this world. Lucky for me, Fred Swaniker launched the African Leadership University (ALU). The timing was perfect!
Getting into ALU was the best thing that happened to me. It was obvious that the school was very particular about facilitating a rounded life experience. That was my cue to live a bigger life. I was not disappointed. My University was big on reflection.
I felt so lucky. I came prepared with my notepads. The pink one was for soft-life personal reflections like I did in secondary school. The black one was for taking notes in class. So, I was back in business. Writing. Being at ALU gave me the tools and opportunity to reflect on my experiences more intentionally. Writing became a way for me to learn about topics I was interested in and to process my thoughts and emotions.
Fortunately, my coursework was super heavy on writing. Although most of it was academic writing, I appreciated the process. It was guided by intentional learning. I explored the most random topics: transportation to philanthropy, innovation to information management systems, and eco-consciousness to sustainability. The list goes on. Writing made me feel like I could learn anything. Walahi!
Later in 2019, as I was getting closer to graduating, I decided to be serious about writing since I was about to lose the structure that helped me write well so far. But then, I struggled to keep up with writing. I started a Trello board of stories I wanted to write but only made it through two. The first was about Patience, and the second was about Perception.
The thing is that I was a perfectionist afraid of failing. It’s taken me five years to unlearn my perfectionism and start writing again. The story ends here because I haven’t published anything since then. Not for lack of inspiration. I see people I admire write so well, and I want to translate the same depth of emotion I feel when I read from them.
I said I want to write. It’s the middle of August, and I’ve published this story. It’s not perfect, but I’m putting it out there anyway. I want to improve, and I know that the more I write, the better I’ll get. I’m excited to explore new topics, reflect on my experiences more deeply, and connect with readers who might be struggling similarly with writing.
I can’t wait to get better.
“The better we get at getting better, the faster we will get better.” — Douglas Engelbart.