When you work in a creative industry, failure is part of the package. You’re going to have to get used to dealing with publishers turning down your work, critics criticizing your style, and strangers across the internet badmouthing your art.
If you want to succeed, the most important thing you can do is put your work out there, even though there is a chance you could fail. If you’re afraid of taking a risk, here are myths about failure that are holding you back from trying something new:
1. Failure is a sign you should stop trying.
You shouldn’t use one little failure as an excuse to give up on your dreams. When you fail, you should take it as a sign to try again. After all, you’re never going to reach your destination without hitting a few roadblocks along the way. Failure isn’t the end. It’s only a pitstop on your journey.
2. Failure is the worst thing that could happen to you.
You should stop thinking of failure as an inherently negative thing. Failure leads to growth. It leads to important life lessons. Whenever you fail, you can look back at your mistakes and use them to educate yourself. You can use your failure as a tool to help you do a much better job next time. It might not feel like it in the moment, but failure is actually one of the best things that could happen to you.
3. You should be ashamed of your failures.
Some people allow fear to get in the way of their dreams. They remain inside their comfort zones because they are terrified of what will happen to them on the outside. Even if you fail miserably, you should be proud of yourself for actually trying, for following your passions, for being brave enough to take a risk.
4. Failure means you’re talentless.
Sometimes, your work is going to be rejected for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you. When you submit your short story to an anthology, a publisher might go in a different direction because they’ve already accepted another story in your genre. When you enter a photography contest, you might not win first place because the judge has a secret preference for cityscapes over landscapes. You might not have done anything wrong.
5. You can never recover from your failures.
If you fail, you might embarrass yourself in front of an audience. You might get a few nasty comments on social media. But it’s not the end of the world. The truth is, you’re going to remember your failures for longer than anyone else will. Besides, no one really cares about whether you make it as an artist. They’re too busy focusing on their own career.
6. Failure defines you as a person.
Failing does not define you. Your reaction to failing defines you. You can wallow in your misery, convince yourself you don’t have what it takes to make it in your field, and decide to give up on your dreams. Or you can accept your failure, decide to put even more effort into your work moving forward, and try a second (or third or fourth or hundredth) time.
7. Successful artists never fail.
You need to fail a million times before you succeed. Even your greatest inspirations, artists who look like they can do no wrong, have failed more times than they can count. They needed to fail in order to cultivate their talent, in order to grow into the artist they are today.
The next time your work gets rejected or receives a bad review, don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember, the only real failure is giving up on your dreams, giving up on yourself.