2023: I hope it lasts

Mo Isu
6 min readDec 27, 2023

--

April felt so vulnerable. I put in my notice in November ‘22 and a conversation with my boss greeted that. We sat down at a lounge in Yaba to talk about it. Ebiye wasn’t ready for me to leave, I didn’t need this conversation to know that much. But I wanted to leave -needed to.

I had been working at Voix Collective for over a year and I just wasn’t getting a lot of fulfilment. Startups are hard, that much I already knew. (I have only worked in Startups) And if I am being honest, I was quickly losing trust in the vision. Most importantly, I wanted my time back. I didn’t know what I’d do with the time when I got it but I knew I wanted it.

At the end of March, I got it back, all of it. I also got the first period in over 18 months where the source of my next income was unclear. I had been here before but I wasn’t any better prepared for it.

Things were particularly hard at the start of the year. I was down to just one source of income and I was forfeiting it soon. I spoke to one friend about how hard it all was, living from salary to salary. My splitwise was perpetually in The Red. I was so proud of every grocery run completed but It never lasted. Immediately you pay bills you have bills to pay. It’s endless and I wasn’t equipped for it.

In April, it all felt very real. And the realness dawned on me one night, in France.

April 19

I was on a sponsored trip and my helplessness in my luck kept hitting me in the face. I had done so little to deserve to be in this place. And worse, I could not afford to be there. I did not have any vex money. I felt so insecure. I didn’t realise how much security having money provided me. I mean, I knew about the complex ways we react emotionally to having money. I knew that my chest tightened the closer my bank balance drew to zero. I knew also that having money freed me, it gave me the freedom to be creative, and the freedom to exist.

August 12

One afternoon in August, I was people-watching with my friend Yasmine and we noticed a man standing with a little girl. They were waiting for something or someone (we didn’t stay long enough to find out). On the man’s face, you could see the sketch of worry. He was standing there physically with the girl we assumed was his daughter but his mind was somewhere far away. I looked at this man a while. I was a visitor in Paris having one of those simple moments of glee and looking at this man, I could see how his reality was so far away from my own. His face gave away his insecurity and I knew that feeling. Maybe not for the same reason but I knew it.

I knew what it felt like to be clouded with worry so big that life felt grey.

I travelled a lot this year. To two new countries. By road to Lokoja and again to Abuja where I spent 8 hours in a cafe with friends before getting on a flight to Lagos where I put together my first audio story of the year. I travelled to Uyo for a reporting trip and again to Abuja for another reporting trip for which I paid out of pocket (with no promise of making that money back from the project.) It’s the first time I am getting a glimpse of what travelling often can feel like and it gives me so much energy.

In October, a friend sent me a text about her plans to travel to Ibadan for a couple of days with a few people she knew. She asked if I’d be interested. I said yes without giving it a second thought. I want to be here — on the road — as often as I can be. I want to talk to people and see things. In April, when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, I made two notes in my notes app.

1.

I’m currently looking at the Eiffel Tower up close for the first time and I won’t lie to you. It’s magical. It is.

2.

Travelling always makes me want to change something about myself. Like how I approach the world. My whole philosophy or just something about my environment.

April felt so vulnerable. I felt so insecure and exposed. I hated that feeling so much. It made me want to change something… everything

The moment first came in June. I don’t know how I survived that long. I hadn’t gotten any new contracts since I quit my job but somehow I was still here. I had been working on a story for the past three months, a story about flood-induced cyclical displacement in parts of Lokoja. It was the first story I pitched this year and a very energizing validation to have it loved and accepted. On May 24th, there was another moment of validation like this one. I was coworking from my friend, Bena’s, house. We were having a conversation about nothing when the email came in.

Good afternoon Muhammed

Hope all is well

I am pleased to inform you that…

I had all my hopes in the basket for that application. A rejection email would have broken me and I was ready for it. But it never came. Instead, what came was this — a reason to believe in myself. But this moment of ecstasy is not the one I speak of. The first moment came in June.

June 17

I took a walk with my friend that day. We’d only met a week earlier. We liked similar music and movies and agreed to go on a walk together. We started at the Acropolis and meandered between tourist streets and typical ones. We talked about lots of things — many that I don’t remember. We talked about fleabag and we talked about a set of questions I first saw in the New York Times. We talked about our families and I spent a long time trying to explain pure water.

Then my leg started to hurt so we sat down and I talked about pain. We looked at this car while we talked about that.

I remember there was a quiet moment in my head, and then there was a voice.

“This is nice. I hope it lasts”

Athens was the first time I had this thought. I had something like it on the first day after 13 hours of travel. Myself and my new ‘found family’ found shade in front of an ice cream shop where we talked about the future and audio. I had a conversation about audio in a way that I had never had before. I didn’t have to explain what I was saying, these people spoke the same language I spoke. It was nice. I wanted it to last.

This feeling became the motif of my summer. I felt it many times in June and July and August.

Even now, though sparse, I still have occasional moments like this.

Moments I want to last. Nothing like that night in April that lasted too long.

Very early on, I knew I would not say anything bad about this year. It was a good year. I hope this lasts. This feeling… These types of years.

In 2024, I want more and I hope it lasts.

July 8

Read old reviews

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

--

--

Mo Isu

Writing what I can| Being Vulnerable and confused| Making podcasts