I’ve been ruminating over this topic for some time now, this idea of success. Who has it? Who wants it? Who thinks they have it? Who do others think have it?
Do I want it? Do I have it?
What is IT?
The world has a lot of opinions on success. A lot of them include climbing your way to the top, stepping over your enemies. They involve defeating other people in order to achieve your personal success. Becoming the top of your career…a popularity contest of sorts or at the very least a monetary marker. The one who makes the most money or is the most well known is the “successful” one.
But I think that these are all notions that lead to many of us feeling as though we are failures or that our work has failed. There can be hierarchies of this. Perhaps I feel more successful than some while still feeling like a failure compared to the accomplishments of others. And why is that?
It’s because I have compared myself. I have looked at someone else’s work and found my success or lack there of in a comparison of my work to theirs.
- They have done more.
- They have a fabric line.
- They regularly chat with “big names/sewlebrities”.
- They have written multiple books.
- They have more followers than me.
- They have more blog sponsors than me.
- They get more comments on their blog.
- They have more things published than I do.
- They are constantly using the newest fabric line available.
- They have seemingly unending budgets for fabric or are always being sent the latest fabrics by manufacturers.
- Their children never seem to get in the way of their sewing time.
- They produce massive quantities of quilts.
- They are teaching at every up and coming event and traveling the world to do so.
- Their health never gets in the way of their production.
Does any of this sound familiar? If not, then congratulations. I truly mean that. It means you have avoided the pitfalls of comparison and are allowing yourself to simply create. That is a beautiful thing : creating without comparison. Because if there is one thing I have learned, it is this:
Comparison Kills Creativity
I honestly don’t know yet if I am successful. This is a question I’m still really exploring and diving deeper in to. But I know the world is full of wisdom and I’m ready to hear yours. I know that success is often the result of deep struggle, overcoming an obstacle we didn’t think we could. I know that success is rarely handed to you on a platter, you have to actually do work (though Hollywood may make us feel otherwise). I know success is not inherited. Each person must define and achieve it herself.
I’m also coming to understand that success is not a strictly positive experience. What someone may look at in my work for example and see as a success, I find as a purely vulnerable exposed moment. I’m waiting for the inevitable criticism that comes with pleasing people. Because you can’t please all people all the time. I have a book coming out in the spring and I know that some will view that as a success…wow, you wrote a book. But while I did a work that I am incredibly proud of, there is that fear of the first bad review on amazon. The vulnerability of putting your name on something and telling the world that this is a part of me. If it fails does that mean I have failed?
Vulnerability. I think that this is intrinsically linked to success for me at least. Writing this. Sharing my work. Waiting for a comment, any comment, on my blog. Reminding myself not to compare. To follow my own path.
It takes courage. And some days it takes a LOT of courage.