3 girls sitting on the ground, one looking at the phone in her hand

How I learnt to shake off self-doubt with my first Instagram Live

When I finally did my first live IG chat. I got a few compliments from people who said they liked my live chat on instagram and that it made them think of their own creativity. I guess that gave me a reason to feel like I had achieved something but the truth is, I didn’t do it for the feedback. I did it to get over my own self-doubt.

For a while now I’ve been planning to launch my own podcast. But then I got stuck in the research loop, listening to countless other podcasts and consuming endless content. Everything and everyone inspired me. I had lists and pages of ideas and possible people to interview but somehow I was afraid to launch. I was afraid that my measly offering of content, imperfectly produced and hapharzardly packaged would not make a mark in the virtual world. I was afraid that not having the ‘right’ branding would render me a fraud. Who would bother listening to my uhms and ahs between questions. All of my doubts gave me an obvious case of ‘paralysis through analysis.’ I made countless excuses on why I couldn’t launch my podcast just yet, despite having acquired all the equipment that I needed. And then COVID19 happened. It changed the way we consumed content. It also changed the tone and type of content people wanted to consume.

This was the best excuse not to launch my podcast, because I believed that nobody’s listening to podcasts right now since people aren’t commuting to work. And so my great idea went to sit on the back burner yet again. However something deep inside me was bubbling, like an overflow of creative passion waiting to be let out into the world and I had to figure out how to go with this flow without trying to over engineer it. It also seemed like an opportune time to jump on the latest social media trend which involves live chats with friends and esteemed guests on Instagram. I was hooked on some of my favourite content producers like the UK’s twitter queen ToniTone and South Africa’s soulful Olwethu Leshbane. Some of these chats were actually so informative and simultaneously easy going that I scheduled my favorite topics and it became part of my new quarantine routine. As a result, I was inspired to get over myself, because self-doubt kept me stuck and didn’t serve me in any shape or form.

But again the thought of being in front of a camera overwhelmed me and the ironic thing is that I have no qualms or fears of speaking in front of hundreds of people, but I somehow over the years told myself that as a writer – I had no place in front of the camera. Yoh, but these live chats…

There was this desire to be an intimate part of someone’s face to face conversation as if I was sitting with them having a social chat in their living room, you know like we used to do back in the days. Maybe it was the nostalgia or this pressing desire to tell someone’s story, I knew I needed to risk looking like a fool because I wasn’t going to be perfect on my first live IG chat. Perfection wasn’t the point for me. I remember putting together a content strategy and a plan because the last two years I worked in corporate branding and this is what we did – build strategies around brands.

And then this overwhelmed anxiety rose once again, but then very quickly I snapped out of the ‘strategising loop’ allowing the ‘wild child’ voice in my head to convince myself that the goal here was to muster up some courage and simply start and there was no need for a corporate brand strategy. This is a time when people want authenticity and raw content they can resonate with because right now we are all at the back of our minds in survival mode. Also it didn’t matter if nobody logged onto this first live chat. The aim for me was to get comfortable with being in front of the camera and to develop the interview skills that make good conversations memorable and thought provoking.

It helped a great deal that my chat partner was Clara Hahn, a single mum and creativity coach that I met in Berlin a month ago. Clara has her own story of how she dug deeper and came into her own, how she turned her life around and left her partner after having a baby together and how she quit her day job she didn’t enjoy to start her coaching business. What struck me about Clara was how she is able to share the fears and failures of her journey and turned it into the stepping stones of her own powerful story. This made me realise the power of authentic storytelling. It was her story, told by her. She owned the narrative and how she wanted to tell her story.

We live in a world where we, as women, are fed success stories of men, and white men, in particular, making us feel that we are in adequate for not fitting into a form that wasn’t designed for us to begin with. Yet I find myself wishing that the 17-year-old me, heard more stories told by women, women with imperfect lives who dared to be courageous. Maybe then I wouldn’t have wasted so many years feeling ‘not good enough.’ I wish there were more stories told by women of colour and all the social injustices and prejudices they’ve had to overcome even in a ‘free’ society. Stories give hope and inspire change, creativity and purpose, especially now when so many of us feel stuck, anxious and hopeless.

I realise that it takes courage to share one’s story, to reveal the small unseen steps taken daily to push back each time we are belittled for not conforming to the ‘norm.’ And when these stories fall on the hungry ears of young women searching to find a sense of self and identity, then these ‘authentic’ stories are life-changing testimonies that must spread like wildfire until a new narrative is forged.

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