Having just spent an hour sailing the bloggy waters of the WordPress seas, I realize not much has changed since I was an imaginative young misfit, growing up in a small farming town. Before the internet. Before cable television. Before overprotective parenting. Even then, artists questioned themselves, because of negative feedback from those around them. I lived it, too, with a militant stepfather who despised the word “art” and made sure I knew it.
And yet, for all that technology has opened doors undreamed of half a century ago, the stigma remains. Despite the fact that the imagineers who dream beauty are the ones who ultimately make life worth living in a world that has been circling the drain for decades. For them, the struggle continues. It’s somewhat dispiriting, but not really that surprising. So, here’s what I have to say on the subject:
I have always accomplished anything to which I set my mind. That sounds like a bold statement, but it really isn’t. Not when you take into account my absolute lack of desire for any sort of notoriety. I don’t do the things I do for attention. I do them because I see them as a challenge and refuse to believe I can’t. Especially when somebody tells me it’s impossible.
Doesn’t really matter what it is. Maybe that’s why I have so few followers on my blog, my Flickr account, my Tumblr and my website. I don’t really care about analytics. I have those accounts because I was once told, not so long ago, that I was too old to “understand” how social media works and, thus, couldn’t possibly succeed at it. Never say never, friend. Not to me.
Which is not to say I haven’t had more than my fair share of failures. I’ve started over more times than most people have changed their minds. I’ve rebuilt and I’ve moved on to the next thing. But that’s not the point. The point is I tried and succeeded at something I once found challenging. Ah, but isn’t success on social media measured by analytics? Not to me. Because, you see, I judge success differently than most.
For me, it isn’t dependent upon large groups of people shouting accolades. It isn’t about critical acclaim. It isn’t about fandom. It isn’t about fame. It isn’t about amassing a fortune. Now I’m not saying those things are bad, just that I don’t go searching for them. I’ve had more than my fair share of successes, too, and have benefited with a comfortable, sustaining career spanning close to 40 years. It’s just that, for me, it’s about accomplishments of which I can be proud. Period. I know, weird, huh?
You don’t really have to understand, it works for me. I have some truly WONderful memories because of the choices I’ve made and the “impossible” roads I’ve chosen to travel. I’ve hobnobbed with the rich and famous, I’ve nurtured brilliant minds, I’ve taken chances and gambled on long shots, I have witnessed the birth of beauty and stared aghast into the chasm of despair. I have lived, I have loved and I have languished. I would not change a damned thing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t let anybody tell you that your ideas, your thoughts, your creativity or your talents are worthless or unimportant. Don’t let anybody convince you that you are less than the amazing human being you know yourself to be. You can do anything you set your mind to, just so long as you don’t allow critics and naysayers to make you doubt yourself. It also helps if you find satisfaction in your accomplishments, no matter what they are or what anybody else believes. That’s the true secret to success.