Creative people innately feel a deep connection to their art. As a writer, I feel protective over every story, lyric, poem or article I craft. I feel as though I birthed each of them, therefore it is natural for me to take it personally and negatively when met with criticism. I've come to realize, however, success only comes after one makes peace with the possibility of failure. You must possess the courage to first stand small within the arena of life and risk being ridiculed, chastised and criticized before the possibility of greatness can be experienced.
If one never experienced failure, what would make experiencing success meaningful at all? If never met with defeat, how would one ever experience the glory of triumph and victory? Would success even be recognizable if its opposite were never known?
I learned an uncomfortable yet valuable lesson a few years ago: I love writing, for when exploring the inner workings of my mind while on the journey of creating a story, I feel the most alive. It is the rawest, most organic part of who I am. It just feels like what I want to do. I delve into this lovely zone, become one with this beautiful world and nothing harmful can touch me. I'm the most "me" than I have ever been "me." However, I learned I must first be willing to be a bad writer, at least occasionally, before I blossom into an exceptional one. There is no better road leading to growth than failure. There are no detours. If you're creating something new, you're going to fail at least a time or two. You must first crawl before you learn to run.
One must be willing to begin, fall on their face, and then return to the race again. With a bloody nose and dirty knees, one must be willing to be the last man running, huffing and puffing, while training to become the first to cross the finish line. The road to honing one's craft is often paved with rejection, false starts, and even the risk of humiliation. This is why so many never cross the finish line at all. This is why some never dare to enter the race. Fear is the ultimate deceiver. You must be brave. You must possess unshakeable faith... in yourself.
Rejection Is Merely A Prerequisite
I am inspired by Stephen King. He is considered to be one of the most brilliant and innovative fiction writers of his time, and I have been a fan of his work since I was a child. His breakthrough novel Carrie was rejected 40 times before he relinquished all hope in the story ever being relevant to the masses and, therefore, tossed it into the trash. His wife, cemented in her belief in his talent as a writer, intercepted and pulled the story from the trash. She convinced him to not surrender hope on someone's willingness to publish it, and, thankfully so. Carrie became a New York Times best-seller and inspired countless writers in the generations which followed.
Some of the most brilliant, talented minds in history have been crippled by self-doubt and rejection. Some of the most accomplished people in the world were told they would never amount to anything beyond the ordinary. If you are determined to create, you are going to have doors slam in your face. You are going to be challenged, chastised and criticized, perhaps more than once. The difference between those who achieve their dreams and those who do not has nothing to do with luck or privilege. Rather, the most important component of all is nothing more than absolute belief. If you believe, with every cell in your body, you are worthy and capable of achieving all your heart desires, that belief will not allow you to raise the white flag. That belief will not allow you to become stagnant, uninspired, defeated or even lazy. Belief sustains you, but it also fuels your hunger. Period.
Failure is inevitable, which is why only a small percentage of the population ever sees their wildest dreams come to fruition. Honing your skills requires "hard work", however the "hard work" is not the most painful or trying prerequisite to success. The absolute refusal to give up on your belief in yourself and your goal, even in spite of a thousand slamming doors, unreturned phone calls, rejection letters and agonizing echoes of crickets, is the most arduous task of all. The tenacity to return to the race is what sets the champions apart from those forever marked with "could have been".
It's easy to say "well, life got in the way," but such an explanation is never entirely accurate. Life gets in everyone's way, but the only obstacle stopping one from achieving their dreams is a decision to drop the towel and walk away. It's going to get hard. You're going to get impatient. Every person who has ever succeeded has felt the pressure, been in the throes of fire and were tempted with the notion of surrender. Perhaps I'm crazy, but I just believe that those who hold tightly to their beliefs are guaranteed to eventually succeed. Every time.
Success is not for the faint of heart.