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June 21, 2024

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In the world of the arts, the pursuit of success can often feel like navigating a labyrinth with no clear path forward. Whether you’re a musician, a writer, an actor, or any other creative professional, the road to “making it” is fraught with challenges, setbacks, and moments of self-doubt. Recently, a conversation with a fellow artist who was contemplating quitting due to the daunting nature of forging one’s way in the industry sparked some profound reflections on what exactly “making it” means and how our perceptions of success can shape our artistic journeys.

What is “Making It” Anyway? The notion of “making it” in the arts is often synonymous with achieving fame, fortune, and widespread recognition for one’s work. It’s the dream of living in a mansion, driving luxury cars, and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. However, this traditional definition of success is not only elusive for the vast majority of artists but also inherently flawed.

Redefining Success: So, what if we were to redefine what it means to “make it” in the arts? What if success wasn’t measured solely by external markers of wealth and status, but by the fulfillment and joy derived from pursuing one’s craft? Perhaps “making it” could be as simple as being able to create art on your own terms, without compromising your artistic integrity or sacrificing your well-being.

For some, “making it” might mean being able to dedicate themselves fully to their craft, free from the constraints of a day job or financial worries. Yet, this idealized version of success often comes with its own set of challenges, including financial instability, self-doubt, and the constant pressure to produce work that is commercially viable.

Navigating the Realities of the Industry: In reality, many artists find themselves juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet, especially in the early stages of their careers. It’s not uncommon for musicians to work day jobs between tours or for writers to freelance while pursuing their passion projects. And while this reality may seem disheartening, it’s a testament to the resilience and dedication of those who refuse to let their dreams be stifled by practical concerns.

Setting Realistic Expectations: One of the biggest pitfalls for aspiring artists is failing to set realistic expectations for themselves. It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of overnight success and instant gratification, but the truth is that building a sustainable career in the arts takes time, patience, and perseverance. Success rarely happens overnight, and setbacks are inevitable along the way.

Instead of fixating on a single, elusive definition of success, perhaps it’s time to embrace the idea of “making it” as an ongoing journey rather than a destination. Success is not a static state but a fluid concept that evolves as we grow and change as artists. By setting achievable goals, staying true to our passions, and remaining open to new opportunities, we can find fulfillment and meaning in our artistic pursuits, regardless of where they may lead us.

In conclusion, the pursuit of “making it” in the arts is a deeply personal and often tumultuous journey. It’s a constant balancing act between ambition and contentment, aspiration and reality. By redefining success on our own terms, setting realistic expectations, and embracing the inherent challenges of the creative process, we can find meaning and fulfillment in the pursuit of our artistic dreams. After all, the true measure of success lies not in external validation or material wealth, but in the joy and passion we derive from creating art that speaks to our souls and touches the lives of others.


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