Sunday, August 24, 2008
As a parent I am often encouraging my kids in their endeavors. I was raised by very supportive parents who believed in me as an artist and supported every crazy idea I ever had. Including trying to house train a goat once (my dad wanted to try too). My husband by contrast had a different experience. He was told to be safe, that being a professional cyclist or a writer was too hard and unrealistic. In retrospect he has a lot of resentment of what 'wasn't'. He never really tried to do either pursuit and instead has been safe, reliable and overall unsatisfied in his career. I did follow my dreams. And continue to follow them. However, by my own measurement of success, I don't feel that I have truly accomplished that which I set out to do. He feels quite the opposite. His perspective is that I am very successful. Having been self-employed for nearly 6 years, and spending my time drawing or working creatively. Not going to work every day to a cubicle for 'the man'. This difference of opinions has caused some strife. Not that we are angry about the difference of opinion, more that it is hard for one to empathetic to another's problem when they don't see it as a problem. This brings me to the point of success. How do we measure it? Why do I feel that I am NOT successful as an artist? For me it is because the art I make, that I LOVE is not being bought or requested regularly. I do get illustration jobs, sure, but they aren't calling all the time, I still have to send off my creations and hope and pray that someone out there who buys this crap will actually want to buy mine. So in my mind, the fact that I work from home isn't enough. That I have a nice house, eat good food, have happy kids, isn't success in my mind. How messed up is that? I mean really. I find that I am not as encouraging as he is with our children. He sounds like my parents and I sound like his. This realization, has caused me to seriously reconsider my expectations. I do not want to tell anyone to play it safe, to not follow their dreams. Heck I am still following my dreams and will be chasing them to my grave. If anything I realize that I am successful. My problem is that I am not relishing the journey, participating in the experience of living my dream. That sadly I have singularly focused at some endpoint that doesn't really exist. It is a constantly moving target and that instead of aiming at that point I need to embrace the moment, and be thankful. From now on, I will be my parents to my children, I will tell them the mantra I heard through my entire childhood 'You can do anything you set your mind to". Only now I will not only believe that to be true, I will know that in spite of disappointment along the way, having a dream, chasing that dream, is far better than not having one. If you aim for the top, even if you don't get there, you will get much farther than if you just aim a nudge above the bottom.