This week has been filled with angst, rejection, insecurities, and pity parties at my house. All of them mine.
I’ve worried that “nothing will work”, that I’m “not good enough”, and that I’m “putting myself out there for nothing.”
I considered not bringing any of this up, because none of it is very positive or happiness-filled. But the truth is that my pursuit of happiness requires a lot of risk taking and dream chasing. It means pitching and proposing and asking and, inevitably, being told no. A lot. Or worse – being told nothing. A lot.
Rejection has an amazing ability to eclipse success. It can make me forget about what is already good, great even. Rejection works like a fun-house mirror on who I am, what I do, and why I do it. It’s a bitch, in other words.
My husband attended one of my pity parties yesterday. He was a fabulous guest – listening, supportive, careful not to disrupt the mood or take over the agenda with talk of positive thinking or reality. He gave me everything I needed in that moment. And then he gave me perspective.
“Remember Metallica,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“They toured for years before getting a deal. Fans loved them and they still couldn’t get a deal.”
“Yeah!” he assured me. “And think about Creed. Creed sold CDs out of the trunk of their car, tons of them, before they got a distribution deal.”
I felt so much better. I was reminded that some people have a tremendous amount of success quickly, and some don’t. But most importantly, I was reminded that the rate of “success” isn’t always personal or a reflection of talent. Commercial success absolutely isn’t a measure of personal worth.
This morning I came to the computer with a great idea for a post: “X Things I Learned from Metallica.” I pulled up Google and began to do a little fact checking and digging.
Turns out my husband was very, very wrong about Metallica. The band formed on October 28, 1981 and signed with Megaforce Records on May 3, 1983. Later that year they released a little album you might have heard of called Kill ‘Em All. Two years between band formation and first major record distribution is not too damn shabby by any standards.
So much for my motivational metal band.
As it turns out, I didn’t learn anything new yesterday at all. I was, however, reminded of a few simple truths that most of us already know.
4 Things I Didn’t Learn When I Wasn’t Learning About Metallica
1. Do what you love no matter how much it pays.
You could find yourself doing it for two years or ten before getting your “big break”. The big break may, in fact, never come. You might as well fill that time doing.
2. You get to define success for yourself.
Will it take a Grammy nomination or a win for you to call yourself successful? Do you need a contract or a check? A certain number of visitors to a website? Or will you decide that getting to spend most of your time with a smile on your face is a fabulous sign that life – your life – is good? None of these definitions is inherently right or wrong; you get to choose the one that makes sense for you.
3. Most great success stories include massive amounts of rejection.
The Metallica website might not be littered with stories of rejection, but most autobiographies are. People fail. People get told no. The more often you ask, the more often you will get told no. But…
4. The more often you ask, the higher your chances of finally being told yes.