After my craft show the other day, I've been thinking a lot about what success means. I’d classify myself as an unrealistic optimist. I get so excited about things and have these crazy expectations that are, for the most part, unattainable. Does this mean I’m setting myself up for disappointment or am I just reaching for the stars like we've been taught to do since we were little?
Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. So if I have an “aim” to go to the movies, and I go see the latest romcom, does that mean that I was successful? I guess that it’s technically correct, but it’s not quite the grandiose idea I have of success. I mean success. You know, that ever elusive spark that only catches fire in the perfect conditions.
Devon, from The Mermaid Chronicles, posted the following line a while back: “I don't want to be famously successful like I thought I did, I just want to reach my creative potential.” I love how she put this thought. I think we all have a little piece of us that wants to be “famously successful”. You see the blaze of the fire for a few people and secretly want that for yourself. I know I do. I’d love it if everyone who came by my craft fair booth had to have what I was selling and bought me out. In previous craft fairs, that was how I defined success—if I sold out of everything and if everyone loved my wares. Realistic? No way. The world is full of so many different personalities with diverging wants and needs. In fact, the whole reason I started making my own headbands and necklaces was because I couldn’t find the colors/style I wanted in stores. So for me to think that everyone will implicitly want what I’ve made is already setting myself up for my expectations to be dashed.
This last craft fair, though, I had Devon’s words ringing in my ear. I wasn't exactly pleased that I didn't sell as much as I thought I would, but I also didn't spiral into a state of despair like I’m prone to do either. Instead of thinking about the overall numbers, this time I focused on the sales I did have. I reminded myself that there were other super talented people there selling their stuff, and not everyone had my same style (nor should they). I had a couple of times when people came to my booth and got so excited about my necklaces that they bought one and wore it right away. That was a great feeling. I was putting myself out there, and something I made was valued by someone else and going out into the world. When I thought about it that way, I thought that sounded pretty successful. Maybe not the way I had originally planned, but that’s ok.
It’s ok to be a perpetual optimist and strive for the impossible, as long as I know that on the way back from that high I still accomplished something by simply trying. It’s hard for me not to compare myself to others, though. I know I shouldn't, but in this overly hyped social media world, it’s so easy to get caught up comparing the number of blog readers/Twitter followers/etc. I have to what others have and think that once I hit that number I’ll be successful. It’s just a mirage, though, because if I did reach that goal, I would want to get to the next level and the cycle would just continue. I have to figure out what is successful for me, which may not be viewed as successful by everyone else.
To create, to dream, to live this wonderful adventure is my aim. I don’t need to put a minimum value on each of these things to be able to reach the pedestal I've put my old friend “success” on. It’s time to pull “success” down to my level so that I can walk hand in hand with it. Maybe I won’t always reach the level of success I want, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't keep striving for what I deem the impossible. Six months ago I would have never thought I would be writing a blog or even doing another craft fair. It’s been a great experience, though. You can’t even begin to know how much I appreciate the fact that you’re reading this and all of your sweet comments. We all trip and stumble along the way, but to get up and keep going, to carry on the journey, that’s what it’s all about.