“If just one person believes in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you…
Hard enough, and long enough,
It stands to reason, that someone else will think
“If he can do it, I can do it.”
And when all those people,
Believe in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough,
Believe in you…
Hard enough, and long enough
It stands to reason that you yourself will
Start to see what everybody sees in
And maybe even you,
Can believe in you… Too!”
The Muppets – “Just One Person”
Self-esteem has a major, critical failing (ok, maybe several).
Whilst, as the name suggests, it is focused on esteem or confidence in one’s self, it really helps if there are others there to encourage confidence in that self as well.
So it kind of figures that self-esteem has been as hard for me to come by as real-life recognition or praise recently.
I’m trying to remember the last time someone complimented me in person – said “well done!” “good job!” “You’re hired – here’s $100,000!”(ok, I’m pushing the limits of reality there..) and nothing comes to mind.
Twenty years ago I finished working in radio (for the record, I started working in radio on New Year’s Eve 1995).
While I’m confident I could still wipe the floor content-wise with what qualifies as “on-air talent” today, you will likely never hear my beautiful bassy voice on the radio ever again – and not just because I’m inclined to swear lots more than I used to.
I tell people my dream radio career lasted only six months because I had too high an IQ and too low an ego (the other reasons were rubbish pay and trying to stay awake for 24 hours each Saturday).
I just couldn’t fake the level of self-belief required for radio.
And this was ‘90s-radio-level bravado I’m talking here – absolutely nowhere near the stratospherically narcissistic / Ninth Circle of Dante’s Inferno that it has become today.
But, while my radio career was muted, my voice was not silenced.
From an early age I learned the power words can wield.
So I started writing.
I’ve written stories, poems, radio ads, press releases, pieces for work newsletters, letters to the editor, Man About Town columns for “BayBuzz”, opinion pieces in Stuff and even a couple articles in the local paper many years ago about growing up in Napier in the 1980’s and my love for my home town.
My Dad was always my biggest supporter.
He believed in me.
He kept newspaper clippings of every letter or item I had in the paper and even some of the more colourful reactions!
Three years ago I started writing Napier in Frame.
It’s not a profession – I make no money from my writing.
I have a full time job and a young family to support which is my priority, so I can only write when I have the time or inclination.
But I steadily shifted towards writing on this site and promoting it via my Twitter and Facebook profiles.
People who know me even say “I haven’t seen your letters in the paper recently” when I see them in the street. I tell them about this site, but they seldom seem interested or even aware of a world wide web beyond traditional print media.
I kept writing – it helped me cope and process things, but it kind of felt like any support, luck, or belief anyone had in me died too.
I’ve written, what I at least think, is some of my best work since then – The coverage of my recent stay in hospital received plaudits, but these are predominantly from friends online.
This is where things get a bit confuddling.
Positive reactions are always good to receive, but self-doubt (self-esteem’s arch-nemesis) can begin to creep in.
Someone (usually a friend) gives you a compliment on Facebook or Twitter and you automatically discount it – “Of COURSE they’d say that, they’re your FRIEND!” Or “It’s ONLY social media – it’s not ‘REAL’” – sabotaging yourself and your abilities.
Even when you point out something that you think is blatantly wrong – Like hypocrisy over the Ruataniwha Dam, or the local newspaper covering Hastings District Council bailing out Horse of the Year, when the event’s board said in the same paper just weeks before they themselves would cover the loss and nothing is done.
The “bad guys” win.
Worse still can be spending years developing and making your case for a way to improve the city you love and the region you were born and raised in.
Heck, even John Campbell likes it!
But when you approach people you believe have the resources, funds and it’s in their best interests to actually enact your idea and the response is nothing – silence.
In this gaping vacuum of space no one can hear you scream in frustration.
I’ve had similar responses trying to rejig New Zealand’s flailing mainstream media – But the general consensus there is
“What would he know? He’s only from Hawke’s Bay!”
If I’m wrong that’s not a problem. You can learn from mistakes and correct them.
But no one has told me I’m wrong.
People tell me they “admire my passion” and am constantly queried on how I would achieve the goals I seek.
I tell them, but they don’t offer to help and “passion” won’t pay the bills, or finance what I have planned.
What if I’m right and no one cares to help try and make a difference, to help effect change or fix the problems I’m trying to remedy?
Ignoring problems doesn’t solve them or make them go away.
But ignoring people who are trying to fix problems makes the people go away – lose hope, lose self-esteem and confidence.
I’ve become quite philosophical and theological about it:
“If Andrew makes a factual statement and no-one notices or cares, is he still right?”
“Before THE WORD, or there was light, or even the Big Bang, Andrew was wrong”
When the negativity or gaping vacuum of ignorance gets to you and makes you glum, sad, or grumpy and strips away your self-belief, you’re STILL wrong – Because being glum, sad, or grumpy isn’t allowed – You’ve apparently got to be happy, positive and smiling All. The. Time?!
This isn’t one of those inspirational stories of the little struggler, the battler, who overcomes adversity to triumph.
It is the tale of someone who has been told they’re wrong when they’re not, who has been ignored and unappreciated long enough for it to essentially become a default setting – a shitty-mood Stockholm Syndrome.
Having to spend a few weeks in hospital pales in comparison.
Shakespeare said we only have an hour upon life’s stage to strut and fret before we are heard no more.
I want to make a difference in that hour, but I can’t do it alone.
I need support, I need people to believe in me.
I need to believe in myself.
I want to believe.