Enduring the Chill
Based on the monthly blog metrics I receive, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that the majority of my regular readers are enjoying the sun and heat of the summer season. A quick scroll through Instagram or Facebook seems to confirm this. I frequently see photos of beach trips, swimming, and all manner of other summer outdoor adventures. It’s clear that summer is in full swing.
Except, here in southern Africa, it’s winter. And it’s cold. Like, really cold.
Welp, that pipe's frozen...
Okay, I know what many of you are probably thinking, so let’s set something straight right from the get-go here. Africa is a big continent. If you’ve never taken the time to notice, go check out your nearest world map. Use your fingers to get a rough estimate of how wide the US is and then try to see how many times it fits into the African landmass. Spoiler alert: it’s several.
Africa is big, and because it’s so big, there are several diverse climates spread across the continent. It’s not all deserts (which do get wickedly chilly at night, by the way) or wild bush like you see in The Lion King. Lesotho, way down near the southern tip of Africa, is known as the Mountain Kingdom or the Kingdom in the Sky. Nearly two-thirds of the country consists of mountains, and its lowest elevation is 1,400 meters (4,593 feet), making it the country with the highest lowest point in the world. Between the high elevations and the mountainous terrain, Lesotho gets cold in the winter, particularly the higher up those mountains you climb. It’s not uncommon for the mountain passes to become impenetrable with snow and ice.
In the “low” lands, where we live, nights and early mornings are consistently below freezing, while midday generally hovers between 10-15 ° C (50-60° F). “THAT’S NOT COLD!” I hear your judgment. But here’s the kicker: most homes in Lesotho are constructed from hollow, uninsulated cinderblocks, and the windows and doors almost always have gaps. Not only does that provide me with endless joys when it comes to sound treatment for my VO recordings, it also means the interior of the house stays cold throughout the day. In fact, the big joke here is that you hang up your jacket to go outside in the sun and you put it on when you come back inside. When I lived in Michigan, winter temperatures were inarguably colder, but it was always warmer going inside. In Lesotho, winter is cold and there’s just no escaping it. And when that wind starts blowing…forget about it!
So, what do we do to combat the winter chill? We hang extra curtains around the house to block off rooms so they’re easier to heat individually. We huddle around a little propane heater in the living room so we can at least feel our fingers and toes for a few minutes a day. We bundle up in multiple layers, often donning two pairs of socks and three or four shirts of varying thicknesses. Ultimately, we do what anyone has to do to weather inconvenient or uncomfortable circumstances: we endure. When you’re decked out in full winter garb, including hat and gloves, eating hot soup next to a heater and you’re still shivering, there comes a point where you just have to grin and bear it.
In voiceover, I’ve found a parallel to the cold African winters. No matter how much I look forward to the warmth of summer, it doesn’t change the fact we have to endure the winter months to get there. Nothing makes it pass any faster. Similarly, I have images in my head about where I want my voiceover business to be and—surprise—they don’t match the reality I see before me right now. The more training I undergo, the more coaching I receive, the more capable I become with the tools at my disposal, the more desperately I want to see that future goal become the reality right here, right now.
That doesn’t happen overnight, though. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes determination. It takes grit. Being an entrepreneur and establishing a business is a marathon; you can’t cut corners or you’ll never make it to the finish line. Mentor, colleague, and friend, Paul Schmidt, describes it even more aptly: voiceover is an infinite game. There is no finish line or end. There’s always more to learn and accomplish. As much as I may want to skip ahead to the part where I’m more successful or making more money or being considered for more high-profile projects, I can’t get there without first going through the grind of learning my craft well, firmly establishing my business, and implementing a well-thought-out strategy to build relationships with potential clients. And then I have to keep doing those things, day in and day out. No one is going to do it for me, and no one is going to care about it as much as I will. To return to my metaphor, I have to endure the cold winter months in order to enjoy the warmth and joy of summer.
In what ways are you in a winter season right now? How do you endure the cold and keep on keeping on? The cold may not be fun—heck, it may be downright unbearable sometimes—but part of reaching our goals is learning to navigate the mundane, tedious, or challenging. It’s about figuring out how to make tough circumstances work for you so you end up stronger, wiser, and better equipped on the other side. Regardless of where you’re at or what you’re working on, keep at it. Add another sweater, inch a little closer to that heater, or find a patch of sunlight to help you take the next step. The most rewarding things are worth enduring the cold for.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller
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