Our life's work can play mind games with us--feeding on our insecurities and self-doubt. Our loved ones don't always support us in our journey.
We subject ourselves to public scrutiny and rejection. Every day.
Not to mention, it can take years before we become that "overnight success."
So validation makes us feel "heard." It makes us feel understood and appreciated for our efforts and our sacrifices.
I can still remember Sally Field's Oscar acceptance speech many years ago. "You like me, you really like me!" she shouted, as she accepted her Best Actress Award.
Decades later, and even with a cult-like following, I imagine that Oprah too would have wanted to experience recognition for her impressive role in this important piece of work--Lee Daniel's film, The Butler. Though she hasn't said much in the aftermath, it's hard to believe that she didn't feel somewhat overlooked and undervalued in not receiving an Academy Award nomination.
From some of the comments I read on the Huffington Post, virtual "chats," and conversations with friends who viewed the film, she should have.
So as part of the creative community, and as "online performers" what can we learn here?
Here are a few things to consider...
1. Validation comes in many forms.
Whether it's an Oscar, a Pulitzer Prize, or a Blog Award-- however, the most important validation is the "vote" of approval we give ourselves. Believe in you. Recognize that we all are a "work in progress." Give yourself time to grow. Permission to explore. Confidence to fail. And keep improving your "craft."
2. Don't expect everybody to like you.
Even amid our best efforts, we get the worst feedback. Editors can "snub" us through their rejections. Blog readers can "heckle" us in their blog comments. A reviewer gives our book a negative write-up. It happens. There's great truth to the expresion: "You can't please everybody."
3. Recognize that good work matters, even when it's not formally "recognized."
No matter what the medium-- a blog post, magazine article, or stage reading, give a "stellar performance." You just never know who might be reading or listening, and ultimately impacted by your work. Here's a case in point: a few years ago, I got a blog comment from an "unexpected" reader. A fourteen year old girl from a small town, who identified herself as being "100% Irish," shared how she had been following my Blog and really loved what I had to say. Because of it, she said that she had aspirations to become a writer when she grows up. How cool is that? :-)
4. Don't seek perfection; seek excellence.
I don't personally like every movie or project that Oprah has been affiliated with. But as a whole, she should be proud for championing important causes, impacting change, and being a really "solid" actress. If you were to judge your work overall as a "whole," would you be proud? Are you "creating" from a place of authenticity? Are you keeping your audience's needs in mind?
5. Don't be bitter, be better.
Sometimes failure can be our greatest teacher. Remain open to the lessons that obstacles and setbacks can teach us; not just about our art, but also developing in character.
This concludes today's performance, here at Pen and Prosper.
I hope that I shared something that will inspire you in the creative process and encourage you throughout your week.
Remember, you don't have to be in the "spotlight" to shine.
Until next time...