Making peace with “failure”

Trees & River at Sunset (France) 11"x14" oil on canvas, unframed, $395. © Sarah Marie Lacy 2012

Trees & River at Sunset (France) 11"x14" oil on canvas, unframed, $395. © Sarah Marie Lacy 2012

“In life, as in baseball, getting on base can be just as important as hitting a home run.”

As my Sunday deadline looms closer & closer, my anxiety levels keep climbing.

I am still $3,650 short of my tuition payment on Sunday. Despite raising over $6,700 in 4 weeks, I’m still not quite there.

Hello, difficult feelings

For some reason, the only yardstick I ever measure myself by is how much money I’ve made.

I painted 17 paintings in 6 weeks, was accepted into an exclusive private studio program in France, had people invent scholarships for me, and because I’m $3,650 short of my $8,500 net profit goal, I feel like a failure.

I am deeply afraid of not making that $3,650.

I have back-up plans in place. I have people I can borrow that money from. I will still stay the full 6 months again this year.

But incurring more debt on top of last year’s debt feels like another failure. I paid for just over half of last year’s studies myself. I still owe my parents about $8,000.

I was so determined to pay for the next 2 years myself, to not burden my parents with more debt in my name. (It’s a private school, so I’m unable to get student loans or lines of credit.)

I can’t help but look back on last year and see only how much I failed, not how much I achieved.

That damn comparison game

There’s a part of my brain that tells me if I was a better person and more successful, I wouldn’t have to raise this extra money. I’d just be rich enough to have it.

If could just unravel my money issues faster, get over my post-abuse fears quicker and shine brighter, and just be a braver, more courageous person, then everything would be fine. I would be a success.

I look at other people, with larger audiences and fatter pocketbooks, and can only see how far away I am from that.

I feel not just broke but broken; less-than in comparison.

And while I’m aware that these thoughts aren’t truth, they still touch on such a raw & vulnerable place that it’s not easy to brush off.

Places that hurt

Since I began to rebuild my life 6 years ago, after 5 years of being incredibly ill, independence has always been something I’ve strived for.

Never again do I want to feel helpless. Never again do I want to feel totally dependent on others for every part of my life, unable to contribute anything useful or meaningful. I felt like a shadow of my true self.

I’m still trying to prove to some part of myself that I’m not there anymore. That I can take care of myself. That I can do it on my own. That I am strong and independent and brave.

Not weak, helpless and afraid, which is how I so often used to feel.

I lost sight of the true goal

The true goal is to study the poetry and craft of the work I want to make in the world. The true goal is to create beautiful, meaningful works of art to share. The true goal is to inspire people, to bring them hope and comfort and joy and compassion.

The true goal is to share my message with the world.

The true goal is not to make money. I just need money to get started.

The true goal isn’t even a goal anyway – it’s a journey. And it’s a journey with a nebulous destination. I will always be working to create art that is more beautiful, and more meaningful than what I’ve made before.

I will always be pouring more of my soul into the work I make.

Finding healing; finding peace

The only thing I can do is give myself love and compassion.

I can only remind myself that asking my parents for financial support to go to my-version-of-university is something thousands of other students have done and that there is nothing weak about it.

I can only keep sharing my dream and my message with the world.

I will keep making the art that lives in my soul.

I will try to remember how far I’ve come – from bedridden with illness to a private French art school on partial scholarship in 6 years.

And that my strength and success go miles deeper than money.

I turn it over to you – do you struggle with anything similar?

Do you easily forget your own achievements? Tell me in the comments about an achievement you just don’t give yourself enough credit for.

If you’d like to help me on my journey, click here to read all about it.

Comments

  1. says

    Ah, would I do this? Yes. Often.

    Recently, especially when feeling exceptionally hormonal, I’ve had a feeling that, at almost 30, I should be a lot ‘further’ on in life than I am. Then I remember than in the last year I finished my MA, have started a business + make art on a daily basis, and am happier (in general) than I’ve ever been.