Have you seen the inspiring video about Michael Jordon, the über-famous and successful basketball player?
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot – and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan “Failure” Commercial HD 1080p – YouTube
Lately I have been feeling a bit doom and gloom, not so much because I am locked up in a small town with limited radius of freedom, but more about my current questions about myself as a writer, freelancer and creative. Pitches and emails being ignored, limited time as to what I can actually do because of my busy job as a teacher who is also doing a Master’s degree. I want to do it all and I want to do it now and I want everything to go smoothly.
The dark voices of self-doubt, of the inner critic, of that mocking voice of my mother, who never took any creative work I did serious enough as to believe I could do it as a job, they all surface and have a field day in my miserable and confused brain. Being a writer is hard. There are millions of us out there, some better than others, and let’s face it, many people call themselves writers when they probably shouldn’t do so. Many are under-selling the art and make those of us who take it seriously and pour our heart and soul into into the craft, look like extortionate clowns. It angers and frustrates me. It makes me really cross. The lack of respect for proper writing, for taking care of and curating those words and sentences, polishing those paragraphs to the limits of perfection – it hurts my writer soul and makes me want to pack up my laptop and notebook and fly to a galaxy far, far away.
And then I remember why I write. And I remember why I can’t ever give up. And I remember that failure is never a reason to give up. That not getting ahead quite as fast as I had hoped, that little setbacks along the way are only there to test me, not to prove my inner critic right. That people will be people and act unprofessionally, that they will just drop you, not respond, not value your work. Those are not the people you are supposed to be working with. There are billions of people in this world and many of them are my people.
I write because if I don’t, I feel empty. I have to write because it’s who I was always meant to be, from the moment I scribbled those first words down in pencil as a primary school student. Playing it safe was my mantra for many years. It kept me safe but it also killed my passion. Nothing I ever did felt as good as writing. Giving up is simply never an option. Getting up and getting on with it, trying again and again is the only way forward. Like Michael Jordon, failures and setbacks will make me better, it will help me to change my course, my tactics, my strategy and it will pave the way for a fruitful journey.
Most importantly, a setback or slow progress does not make you a failure. It does not define you as a worthy human being. You are still deserving of success, love and good things. Remember that and, whatever has knocked you down, acknowledge it, look at it and then start again, with a better plan, a better course and even more passion that before. You owe it to your people. They are waiting for it. You owe it to yourself. And you owe it to the universe.