But what if the personal and professional feedback isn’t as clear as a curtain going down in the theater? Creative minds are more likely to see two sides to every argument. Artists struggle with figuring out whose advice should be heeded and who should be ignored in their subjective world. Lines get blurred. The creative mind becomes overwhelmed. The pressure builds. What then?
You listen to yourself, says Markus, which can be as difficult as hearing the truth from others. The question here isn’t, “ ‘Are you deluded?’ but, ‘Do you want to do the work?’ In any business, there are people who get the good jobs and don’t have the talent. But they’re doing the work.”
In short, while there are times when seeking “objective” feedback about your talent can be helpful, in some cases an external assessment is not as important as your own feelings and those of the people you love. “If it still gives you meaning and purpose and is not disrupting the lives of all the people you love, why not continue doing it your whole life, even if you never achieve the fame you’re going after?” says Lopez. “But if the people in your life are saying, ‘You’ve done this for a really long time and you’ve excelled and done well, but at this point we need health insurance for our family,’ that’s a more difficult choice.”
There are many situations in which flexibility is clearly better than perseverance, and when disappointment can actually spur you on to find something more suitable. “If someone tells you in the seventh grade that you’re really funny, maybe you need to get more training and skills. But if you’re 40 and still haven’t had any success—maybe your definition of success needs to change. Maybe it is OK to be a comedian at bar mitzvahs for the rest of your life,” says Robyn McKay, a psychologist in Phoenix.
There are truly few things harder than realizing the fairytale life we have chased for so long may not ever become a reality. Frequently, that realization isn’t a reflection on ability as much as it is a reflection of the society in which we are reared. If health insurance is the reality of what you need right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to pursue your dreams or that you have to give up happiness and lead an unfulfilled life. The flexibility Abby mentions is referring to that place were the scales balance – where needs are met and artistic outlets are still fulfilling. The end result may not be what you envisioned or planned, but those who find it will tell say that their plan wasn’t as beautiful or fulfilling as what they found when they let go of the plan and welcomed the flexibility of supplying their needs and living their art.
Envision one or two alternate pictures of your dreams coming true. What do the alternatives look like?