Last November, a marketing executive from TNM called me to ask and I quote, “What’s a talented young girl like you using Airtel for?” That snarky line was his opener into telling me that this major telecommunications company wanted to onboard a barely-famous poet like me to be one of their brand ambassadors.
I like low blows and I have always been one to say that, for the right price I would sell my soul. With that attitude you would think an opening one liner such as that, coupled with the glamorous benefits he outlined I would get if I agreed, I would be jumping at the opportunity.
But alas beloved, I almost ran for hills. I seriously considered saying no because out of all the amazing other writers, why me? Surely I was being mistaken for someone else. I asked this exec where he had even read my work, given that at the time my online presence was close to nothing. I asked him why TNM was even considering a nobody like me to work alongside the rising sensation Eli Njuchi (and six other gifted individuals). And damn all the accolades and awards I have won over the years, I asked why on God's green earth they would even think I was talented?
This exec- that I had not known before that phone call but would in the long run become a good acquaintance and great cheerleader- chuckled.
“You come highly recommended,” he said. “And I’ve read your work. You're good. You're better than good.”
Bless him, but imposter syndrome gotta imposter ammarite? I could not stop myself from (in)directly telling him that I wasn't the right person for this job. I let him know I wasn’t very active on social media; that I hardly wrote anymore; that I was not the person of influence they thought I was. I damn near told him I was a fraud.
Regardless, of what you want to say about TNM, they are very customer friendly (and by that I don’t only mean that you can actually find their customer care line easily.) This exec was patient and tremendously understanding. He told me that at the moment all that mattered was that they thought I was good at what I do. He told me to sleep on it and maybe to talk to my mom. Then he cut the call.
My mother whom - unlike the TNM exec- has watched me battle the throes of self-doubt and self-sabotage when good things come my way did not spare me the same grace. She gave me a whole speech that is too long to reiterate at the moment but one thing stuck:
“You demean your own efforts every time you feel you don’t deserve the recognition. And damnit Tamanda, you work really hard to do that to yourself.”
Ultimately it is that statement that got me to sign the contract. It’s the same statement I remind myself of every time I get praise at my day job. So instead of cowering from compliments, I now accept what’s mine. It’s the same statement that I held on to when I applied for an editing job at Africa in Dialogue instead of eliminating myself before trying because I thought I wasn’t good enough (side note: I made the cut!).
My mother's words smacked me hard right across my self-doubting face, because you know what, I do work hard and all my successes cannot surely be by some stroke of cosmic luck. It’s hard to go on thinking I am not worthy of good things when there is so much evidence to suggest otherwise. So even though the anxiety still creeps up on me, I am getting better at shutting out the voice that tells me I am not good enough. I am starting to realise despite what I feel, I am talented. I am capable. I am not a fraud.
So beloved, next time I feel like asking “why me?” when good things come my way, at least I have an answer:
Because I deserve it.
Anyway, since I am a brand ambassador, and I’ve got to do my job and all, I'm obliged to tell you that you stand chance of being a millionaire with TNM’s Tikolore promotion. And if not a millionaire you at very least get bonuses every time you recharge.