Last updated on October 10th, 2022
You’ve seen it in the news. You’ve heard it on the radio. Your friends and family have talked about it, whenever it apparently occurs. Somebody, previously unknown by the masses, has a big moment and quickly gains traction and relevance in the public eye. Opportunities begin pouring in, and suddenly, they’ve become a household name. Those unaware of the truth behind this individual’s creative journey gather ‘round, from near and far, and proclaim this individual…
AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS!
However, appearances can be deceiving. This seemingly sudden rocket ship to fame and fortune may appear to have emerged out of thin air. However, rest assured that the ship most likely had many false starts where it struggled to get off the ground. Once it took off, its upward trajectory did not occur in a straight line; rather, the currents of life have tested the vessel’s integrity. Perhaps an emergency landing was necessary along its journey, in order to prevent a full-blown crash.
Indeed, anybody who has been a creative entrepreneur for long enough knows that the course of success – much like true love – never runs smooth. And, over time, we put in enough late nights (immediately followed by early mornings) to realize the truth…
Overnight success simply does not exist.
That may sound discouraging – especially in an age of on-demand everything, where technology has made it so we’re accustomed to having whatever we want right now. However, one could argue that this stark, important realization is one of the most powerful we arrive to over the course of our creative journeys. It’s empowering to know that the artists and entrepreneurs you look up to were once in the same shoes as you, scrapping it out every day, just to keep the dream alive. Even the biggest stars in the world were, at one point, struggling to turn their dreams into reality, and their passions into full-time professions.
Want some examples?
Lizzo, whose 2019 breakthrough, Cuz I Love You, turned her into the megastar we all know today, lived out of her car in the early days of her music career.
Logic – the platinum-selling hip hop artist, producer, author, and two-time Grammy nominee – dedicated the closing track on his 2018 album, YSIV, to communicate how sticking through his early struggles eventually led him to a world of opportunity.
It isn’t just the music industry, either. It is well-known that Oprah Winfrey came from challenging beginnings to not only succeed in a television industry dominated by white males, but to become one of the wealthiest and most influential media personalities of all-time. There are scores of celebrities across all forms of media and entertainment who were well into adulthood before they became widely recognized for their work.
What do all of these people have in common? They didn’t expect immediate success, nor did they give up when they didn’t find it. They didn’t rest on their laurels at the high points of their individual journeys, nor did they take the low points as signs that it was time to pack it in. Through it all, they knew that good things take time, and that opportunities will only come from putting in effort. They remained steadfast and humbly honed their craft, paying little mind to ticking clocks, societal expectations, or the detractors who – well-meaning or not – love to tell us just how impossible for normal folks like us to break through in the entertainment industry. They simply kept working, holding steady through incremental improvements and setbacks alike.
As AC/DC once said, it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll. If you’re in it to win it, expect to be in it for the long haul. Below, I’ve included some tips to help make your quest easier to navigate.
Surround yourself with encouraging, like-minded people.
Fortunately, you’re in the perfect place to begin this part right now, because Muze is full of potential friends and musical collaborators who are just dying to meet you. Sign up and get to know the community!
In general, having a tribe of people who understand the creative journey will help you navigate its many inevitable twists and turns. They’ll celebrate with you when you succeed, and they’ll be there to lift you up when you encounter a setback.
Not to mention, you’re entering an industry where relationships are everything. As you foster strong relationships, your community’s ability to help its members find meaningful opportunities will grow in lockstep.
Don’t expect yourself to be perfect along the way.
If you’ve read to this point, you already realize that your ascent toward your dream life will not be a Point-A-to-Point-B journey. There are going to be hiccups, whether those are relationships that fizzle out, opportunities that don’t work out, and times where things just aren’t going according to plan. Accept these times as important and valuable points along the path, and employ a mindset that enables you to…
Learn from your losses.
Each challenge or setback contains a lesson for those willing to find it. The difference between growth and stagnation often comes from one’s willingness to assess their own role in the events that don’t lead to a desirable outcome, and the changed behaviors that may yield different results.
Celebrate your wins.
We’ve talked plenty about setbacks. That’s important, because understanding their inevitable presence will make them more bearable to navigate when they occur.
However, this creative path isn’t all doom and gloom. There will be plenty of the wonderful accomplishments and milestones you’ve dreamt of, as well. It is important to cherish these moments as signs that you are on the right track, doing what you’ve been put on this Earth to do.
Don’t get too high – or too low.
The emotional rollercoaster of your path toward greatness can surely be intense. Through it all, keep in mind that no moment lasts forever, and no single win or loss will define your legacy. When you succeed, take a moment to celebrate that achievement before you continue working toward the next milestone. Similarly, it’s OK to feel down after a disappointment – as long as you don’t stay down. Take the time you need to reflect and recharge, and then charge ahead, fully equipped with the new lessons in your arsenal.
Find inspiration in the journey itself.
Even if you’re several years into your creative journey, it’s easy to look at where you are in comparison to your ultimate goal – or, compared to celebrities on Instagram – and feel discouraged. Holding your current reality up to your “ideal” life can make it feel like our progress is not occurring fast enough. Over time, you may begin to question if you’re ever going to “make it.”
In times like these, it’s important to look not to where you’re going, but where you’ve been. Think of where you were when you started this journey. Think of everything you didn’t know back then, and everything you’ve learned that has made you a better, stronger creative and human being. Think about the skills and perspectives you’ve gained, and how you can draw from those experiences to inform the path forward. Even in times of struggle, you can draw from your own story to find examples of times when everything worked out just fine – even against seemingly insurmountable odds. Put it all together, and you’ll realize that your own progress to this point has not come in leaps and bounds, but in small, deliberate steps forward. Put it all together, and you’ll realize that you already are “making it,” every single day. All the steps you’ve already taken have led you this far. Imagine how much further you can go, if only you keep stepping.