Monday, November 18, 2013

Suck or fail?

Sucking.  Failing.  They're both unwanted feelings and they're both inevitable if you're an artist.  It's important to know the difference, and how those feelings affect you - as well as ways to cope with them.

When you feel that you failed, it's usually for a defined event or time.  You can fail a solo.  You can fail passage in a song.  You can fail an entire show or concert, even.  The thing to remember is that failing happens then is over.  It's finite.

When you feel that you suck, it's usually about something you feel you don't do well.  It's often a reoccurring feeling of something you have trouble overcoming or getting better at.  It can linger for hours, weeks, or even years.

When you feel you suck at something, you really have two choices.  You can dwell on it, or you can fight to overcome it.  It's hard when you choose to overcome and fail, but the alternative to not trying is far worse.  Some people feel they suck at something and wear self-deprecation like a thick wool coat, as if there is an odd comfort in that feeling.  It's hard to take off the coat and bare the "cold" as it were.

Failing can be difficult because you usually don't see it coming.  It kind of happens and then haunts you afterwards.  We can practice hard to prevent it from happening, but failure will happen as long as you keep trying to do things.  When you no longer fail, it's because you no longer try.

While sucking and failing are both bad enough, there's a hidden danger.  You can fail at something a few times and write it off to nerves or bad luck or blame other people.  But you have to be very careful that when you fail at something, it's not because you suck at it and not realize this.  If you fail because you suck and think it's just a fluke or someone else's fault, you'll never get past it.

In this way, failing is a bit easier to deal with, because it comes and goes.  Sucking is possibly ongoing and/or persistent, and admitting you suck at something is quite hard to do.  But through honesty can come improvement, and from improvement, growth.

Maybe you don't fail, and maybe you don't suck, but odds are you'll come across them as you keep learning more.  How you deal with those setbacks often determines what sort of artist you will become.

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