Maya Angelou once said that “we delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” The simple caterpillar slugs about for the first part of its life before trapping itself into a cocoon, beginning a struggle that will not end for weeks. We can never know what the butterfly feels; whether it is aware of the challenges of life inside the cocoon, how long the process will take, or that it will live for a short period of time after breaking free. Similarly, we admire successful artists and their art, but do not see the obstacles that they had to overcome in order to achieve their dreams.
Some may recall the iceberg that destroyed the Titanic. A ship that size could easily crush the visible part of the iceberg, but what was invisible was what lead to the demise of a seemingly strong structure. This story yet again teaches us to never judge a book by its cover – we don’t know of what obstacles await us, but we should not steer away from trying simply because we believe that the process will be difficult. This isn’t a call to crash into every iceberg we can find to see if we can overcome it, but a call to learn to analyze the situations we are in, and to push ourselves to do the best we can.
Many artists experience a time in their lives when they simply cannot form an idea for their projects. Writers may sit with a pen and paper for hours, staring at the blank white sheet in front of them and producing no content while a painter may do the same with a blank canvas. This is the exact moment that a genius is separated from the ordinary person. Many people will most likely give up and possibly try again later. If the person is disheartened or disappointed, they may even give up the activity completely. But the genius cannot, and will not, settle for such disappointment. The genius is hardworking and will go above and beyond to produce a new idea. Whether it be going for a walk, reading a book, exercising, or even sitting up late for hours to think about something that will satisfy their hunger for new works, they will do it. So what separates the genius from ordinary people? There is no definite answer, but I believe that patience might be the closest we can get to one.
The societies that we live in only teach us about the importance of success but completely disregard the path to such success. Corporations want instant success from university graduates, adults disregard the struggles of the youth by blaming ‘laziness’, not realizing that they are in fact demotivating the youth. A person will fail many times before achieving what they want to be known by – it is a matter of persistence. Unfortunately, the world can be a cruel place, and believing that everyone will like the production of most value to you is absolutely ridiculous. Do not forget that many of the successful people we speak of today were rejected terribly in their pasts. Walt Disney was fired from one of his first animation jobs at a newspaper because his editor believed that he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Einstein had difficulty in learning as a child and apparently could not read until he was seven years old. Oprah was fired from her job as a news anchor for being too emotionally connected to the stories in the news. These failures did not stop these people from trying again, and maybe even pushed them to try harder. Disney has become an entire entertainment empire, there is not a school that doesn’t mention Einstein and his intelligence, and Oprah has made her own television show and magazine, becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world.
Truth be told, some people just have good connections and this can help them in boosting their regard among the public, but people with no such privileges must work twice as hard. It is important to be your own supporter. If nobody can appreciate your work, but you want to share it with the world, it is imperative that you do. The age of social media makes it all the better for a struggling artist to be recognized- and once people like one of your works, they will be demanding more. Many artists did not even live long enough to see the appreciation and awe that their art would inspire.
If there is no route that you can take to promote what you love, you must make your own. There are very few people who have instant successes in life, and believing that you might have such luck is basically shooting your self in the foot. Do not set yourself up for failure, but do not believe that you will be immediately successful either. Any failure that you experience should help to increase your desire to achieve whatever goal you are after. Without falling down, you wouldn’t understand the feeling given by standing strong.