Through my own personal pursuit of happiness I have learned many lessons,
the biggest of which would be the lesson of failure and success. During my first year of college, the only thing I had figured out about myself was that photography was my sole interest. Although I had realized that, I never invested myself in bettering that skill. I went around doing what every other freshman was doing in college: going to classes, skating by with average grades, always going to meals with at least one person so that I would look less like a loner, and most of all never making a spectacle of myself. The latter of which was my own personal roadblock. These things always seemed common as well; I could always find someone else, or a group of people for that matter, who shared that same pattern.
However, looking back, I was never truly happy.
I decided coming into college that I would try Film Production as my major, simply because it was the closest thing to photography. Later I remember being discouraged every time I went to one of my film classes, because although I was doing everything “right” and fitting in, I was never truly happy. I never felt a sense of accomplishment because the act of “fitting in” began feeling more like a cage to my own creativity. I was constantly haunted by my dream of being a creative because I knew that the way I was acting did not reflect where I wanted to be in the future. All of these realizations were great but the hardest part came next: turning thoughts into actions. Already having a tendency to be quiet and reserved, taking the step to figure out my own creative path was a difficult journey to begin, and one that I now know never necessarily ends. Yet since I have taken that first initial step I have learned so many things about life that I never would have known otherwise.
1. Transform your view of failure.
Failure and success are fraternal twins: similar, but can never be truly separate. If you are trying something outside of your comfort zone, then chances are the end product isn’t going to be groundbreaking. Being a bit of perfectionist, this topic is something that I’ve been working on for a few years now. I can’t tell you how many times fear of failure has held me back in my life: choosing not to do something or letting great opportunities pass me by. The mental strain of not chasing after my passions finally brought me to the conclusion that I would feel more like a failure if I didn’t just try, then if I did and my worst fears about the situation came true (which they never do). I want to live a life full of adventure and new experiences, meeting new people and hopefully getting paid for something I love doing.
But in order for that to happen, I can’t always been thinking about how many people might come against me, or try to plan for every obstacle I might come across before I even take a step forward. If you have an idea just go for it and see what happens. If it fails then it fails, but no matter what, you will have learned something from that experience. Along with this lesson, I’ve definitely learned to have grace with myself and with the process of moving towards my dreams. Don’t get so self-critical to the point of never attempting anything creative because the potential for failure will always be there, and the end product will never look exactly how you imaged whether it be better or worse. It’s just a matter of re-defining failure itself to truly overcome that.
2. Don’t be afraid to lean on others.
As an independent person like myself, I used to think of dependence upon others as an inherently bad thing to do; always stealing the accomplishment away from me because “I couldn’t figure out how to do it myself”. While being independent will get you new opportunities and experiences that will grow your career, knowing the correct way of leaning on others is a valuable skill. Find someone whose opinion you trust and relationship you value. Whether it’s a co-worker, friend, sibling, parent, etc. these people are the ones who will know how to give constructive feedback as well as support for what you are pursuing.
A part of me wishes I could say that I was able to get to where I am today all by myself, but that would be a complete lie. As an overly self-critical person, I wouldn’t have known how to make the first jump of “creative failure” without the family and friends who were there encouraging me to keep taking steps forward instead of back. Accepting the fact that no one can get anywhere strictly by themselves is a key aspect to any goal you’re trying to accomplish.
3. You have to believe in yourself.
Looking back on all of this advice is great, but applying it to your own life is where things get tricky, and ultimately where I always fell short. Honestly, I needed all of these lessons and encouragement to be reiterated to me hundreds of times before they stuck and I could begin to identify with them within my own life. They aren’t easy transitions at all, but the beauty of it comes from the unique ways the process will grow you as an individual. That is how it all works.
To take these first steps, you have to believe in yourself, but the end result will always turn out slightly different from everyone else’s story. Learning to trust yourself and your vision will keep you on the right path no matter how many times you feel like you’re failing miserably. If you don’t trust yourself and what you feel your vision for life is, then you’ll never be able to trust the process that your vision will take you on.
All this being said…
No one will be able to figure out your journey to success for you. It’s something that you personally have to figure out, which can be both daunting and exciting. However if you muster enough courage for everyday to potentially face failure and choose not to be dragged down by it, then your efforts will soon be rewarded; maybe by something you never expected or imaged. Most importantly, I can tell you that if you’re at least trying to figure things out or take a step forward, your life will never be boring.
Written by Jessica Holder
Jessica, a Junior at George Fox University, is one of five talented interns joining the SkEye Studios team for the summer. She is a gifted photographer with extraordinary videography skills, and hopes to become an expert in the craft of camera and editing.