Thursday, July 12, 2012

Awards Aren't Everything: Working Through Discouragement

"There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live - I have no use for the sour-faced man - and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do." -Theodore Roosevelt, 1898

Being creative is difficult sometimes. It's not always masterpieces and accolades. But being a successful artist, designer, writer, musician, or actor isn't just about the praise. It's not easy to ignore the noise about awards and such. The quest for 'fame' can put a serious dent in your self confidence and can ultimately stunt your development in your field.

Our world is all about the next big thing, the next meme, the next billion in profit. Tastes and styles are constantly shifting. As artists, we may produce amazing work, but if we don't have the right connections or timing, our efforts may be trampled by the herd. The internet has opened many doors of possibility, but those doors are covered in cobwebs of doubt and intimidation. One may see the sheer volume of amazing talent out there and just refuse to try. We can't be discouraged. We must decide what we truly want and why. Would we rather have thousands of pats on the back for something we're not completely proud of or be pleased, deep down, by a project no matter how much stir it causes.

Creativity isn't just a job, it's a part of us. Above all, we must remember to have fun, to enjoy what we do. That can be extremely difficult when our efforts to be noticed go unfulfilled. We must remember that we are unique. Others may be similar, but they don't have the experiences or history we have. When you're feeling ignored, make a list of your accomplishments. You may find you've had more success than you remember. Do something that makes you happy. If you're a designer who's sick of being in front of the computer, take a sketchbook to a comfortable chair and draw what pops into your head. If, as a musician, the songs you've been playing are only making you more frustrated, dig up a song that never fails to bring a smile.

Awards and praise are nice, but that sort of thing is usually fleeting. Yes, having an award on your resume can help you get a job or gig, but the true test of success is longevity and genuinely loving what you do. It's better to prove the ability to follow through with something worthwhile than to come up with a lucky break. Awards can be very political and aren't always the best indication of talent. Hone your skills, do your best, and have fun. If accolades come, good for you! If they don't, it doesn't mean you've failed. Follow your passion with fervor and happiness will tag along!


  1. Thank you for this post Rachael.I needed this today!And it is so well said.

    1. You've very welcome. I've been feeling a bit down myself, but I'm working on it. ;)