Who Are We Without The Praise?
When I first left the corporate world to pursue a creative career, I felt nothing but warmth and optimism. Most people in my life sent me encouraging texts and letters. Many of them felt inspired by my journey. In return, I felt honored and filled with purpose.
I wanted to do them proud.
Now approaching the one year mark of my "never, ever going back" day, the texts have stopped. The words of encouragement are rarer and rarer. Not because everyone stopped caring, but because I am no longer an exception. My "big leap" is now just my job.
I have taxes to pay like everyone else. I've had dream clients and tough clients just like everyone else. I have day to day slumps just like everyone else. I cry like them. I get angry like them. And, yes, I still dream like they do.
You see, I've found that I can do just about anything with praise. I can be brave, conquer tasks I have no business accepting in the first place. I can laugh at my failures just grateful for the opportunity I was given to try my hand at them.
But without the praise, without knowing if it will ever come again, my perspective has shifted. My leaps of faith are more refined. And progress, I've learned, is a much longer path than I ever saw coming.
Without the praise, I've learned what I'm willing to show up for amidst harsh "no's" and deafening crickets. Without the praise, I've learned where my real dreams lie and which dreams I spent years borrowing from other's perceptions of who I am or who I should be. Without the praise I've felt pain in ways I never thought I could but I've also felt joy I never knew could be mine.
I'd like to say that this is a full circle story of redemption—that now I wake up more determined than ever to take on every challenge in my life. But that simply isn't my reality. I still cry. I still hurt. I still suck quite a bit at quite a bit of things.
There are still answers I wish I had and lessons I wish I didn't need to learn. And yet, I'm still standing without the praise.
So for today, at least, amid the thick silence of my small studio, I'll take that as a win.