Last week, Carrie talked about the importance of not allowing yourself to be afraid of making mistakes in this post, and I couldn’t agree more! There is a lot to be learned from the mistakes you make… and let’s face it, people make mistakes everyday! It is in no way a sin to reach out of your comfort zone and try to become a better, more experienced person at the things you want to do, especially if it means that you have to take a big risk once in a while.
It got me thinking about a time a few years ago when I was terrified to sell some of my wares at an art show. It cost $50 USD to rent the table, and that’s not to mention the cost of ordering more copies of my zine to be printed, designing and producing screen printed t-shirts, and ordering stickers. At that time I had just come out with my third issue of my art zine, The Flood, and wasn’t yet very comfortable with promoting myself or the things I made. If you’ve ever been afraid to network with others, then maybe you can relate to how I felt then.
I was so worried that I actually resorted to consulting a psychic who said that I would be successful in many different artistic avenues during my lifetime and that she saw a type of fashion show in the near future for me. Relieved, I took that to mean that I would be selling t-shirts I designed at the art show, since they did make up most of my inventory. But even if I was meant to do this, it didn’t automatically mean that this show would be a success, and so my fears lived on.
The night before the big art show, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was so frazzled by the idea of failure that I just about e-mailed the event coordinator to cancel my table rental, even after I had ordered and paid for everything and even had to pay rush fees to make sure some of the things I wanted to sell arrived on time – how ridiculous! Luckily my boyfriend was able to restrain me from doing so and was nice enough to come with me the next day for support.
I walked in the door with all of my gear, handed the $50 rental fee to the event coordinator, and went to town on setting up my table. At that point, it was happening, and suddenly I wondered why I had been so worried – this was going to be fun! And even if this particular show wasn’t a success, I’d still have inventory to sell online or at another show later on.
The only reason why I was going to “fail” (as I called it) was only because of myself – I was so scared that I was actually standing in my own way! My boyfriend was a lot more comfortable talking to people and helped me sell a few things, but the moment he walked away to go around to the other tables or use the bathroom or left the table for whatever reason, I just sat there with a frozen look on my face – somewhat hoping nobody actually would come by! Isn’t that absolutely insane? I’m normally a pretty easy going, down-to-earth girl, but somehow talking about my own work was the hardest hurdle for me to jump over.
In the end I only sold 2 shirts, 3 zines, and a few stickers – mostly to friends, but I did recruit quite a few artists to share their work in my next issue! I learned a really good lesson from my mistakes that day. I was afraid that I would lose money, and I did, but what I gained was the understanding that it is so important not to over-analyze every little thing and that I should jump into new experiences with arms wide open or just not to do it at all. Nowadays I take myself and my work a lot more seriously, but not so seriously that I’m crippled by anxiety any time an opportunity comes up that I’ve never done before.
The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to mistakes, don’t underestimate yourself, and most importantly, don’t stand in your own way like I did during my first art show! As billionaire Mark Cuban said in this interview, “Never follow your dreams. Follow your effort. It’s not about what you can dream of. That’s easy. It’s about whether or not it’s important enough to you to do the work to be ready to be successful.“