Jan 15, 2015

I Believe I Belong

Michael Mullooly argues for the importance of self-belief and perseverance, especially in "non-traditional" pursuits

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Michael Mullooly | Contributing Writer

It takes a fair amount of confidence in one’s writing to join a student newspaper. They are often full of obscenely talented writers and aspiring journalists who know and can wax eloquently about politics and all manner of current affairs. I, on the other hand, enjoy video games and watching repeats of sitcoms on E4. If I’m feeling particularly intelligent I might instead watch an episode of Frasier, but that’s about as highbrow as I get. If I had to write an essay on the current state of affairs in Irish politics, I’d wave my hand vaguely and scribble something about how the country’s fallen apart since the recession. Any other information I’d have to steal from Ross O’Carroll-Kelly books.

Believing in one’s talents is essential, not only to a person’s confidence, but also their future prospects.

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And yet I firmly believe I belong here and am capable of writing pieces worthy of sharing the page with my fellow journalists. I don’t write articles and then weep bitterly at how terrible they are. I haven’t run a blog for over two years as a masochistic ploy designed to humiliate myself. I genuinely believe I have writing talent, which I work hard to refine and improve on a daily basis. I’ve spent a long time developing my style, because quite frankly I love writing. I love watching the word count steadily rise up. I love choosing a new chillstep mix to listen to while I clack away. Most of all I love the elation, the sheer adrenaline buzz that flows through me when I finish an article, or essay, or poem. You wouldn’t be reading this if I didn’t love writing it.

Believing in one’s talents (not to be confused with being egotistic, a distinction Irish people can be terrible at making) is essential, not only to a person’s confidence, but also their future prospects. Writers need to genuinely believe their opinions are worth other people’s time. It takes a healthy ego to reach third level education still holding onto the goal of becoming a successful author. Usually such dreams, regarded by many as childish and impractical, begin to dissolve somewhere between the Junior and Leaving Certificate. They’re buried under pressure to conform and aim for a more acceptable career, under budget sheets and igneous rock diagrams and, saddest of all, clinical, soulless English exams. A career as an author, as a dancer, fire breathing juggler, would all require years of thankless hard work for very little return, they tell us. How exactly, I ask, is that path any different from the indefinite unpaid internships that are becoming the norm in more respectable career paths such as business and law?

We live in a disparaging society where we aren’t encouraged to flex our unique strengths and are instead pushed down “safe” career paths.

I emerged from secondary school still convinced becoming a successful writer is the career path for me, and that I have the devotion and skill required to earn pennies for my thoughts. Do these feelings and aspirations make me a big- headed egomaniac, or an idiot, or both? I don’t think so. At the end of the day believing in myself and my writing talent is, in my opinion, so much better than rocking in the corner in the foetal position lamenting all the things I suck at, which is pretty much everything else. I never did complete those budget sheets.

At the end of the day, students are just slightly older, hairier teenagers, and many struggle daily with confidence issues. We live in a disparaging society where we aren’t encouraged to flex our unique strengths and are instead pushed down “safe” career paths. I urge everyone to believe in themselves, to nurture their talents and work hard at improving them. Whether your ability lies in the field of chemistry or out on the footgolf course, keep urging yourself onwards and doing what you love. A little self- belief, when coupled with hard graft, can go a very long way.


Illustration by Andrew Gable 

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