It's easy to read stories from people that inspire you and feel like you're just on the verge of a big break.
Oh, I had no experience and a I took a big risk and it was so scary but then overnight it was a national sensation and everyone loved it.
Oh, I just went up to my dream employer and told her I'd really like to work for her and she hired me. It was a huge risk and really scary but it was totally worth it.
It's beyond easy to read these things and feel like the same things are going to happen to you if you only take a similar risk. And then it's even easier to get really down on yourself when you do take that risk and get no reward. You've gotta risk it for the biscuit (a nice hot Bojangles chicken biscuit, if I'm being picky), but what people don't tend to talk about is how most of the time, those risks usually end up with you faceplanting on the sidewalk and embarrassing yourself in front of the people who offered you the biscuit in the first place. And then you're like but... but... but...YOU SAID TAKE A RISK! I TOOK A RISK. WHERE IS MY BISCUIT?
And that, my friends, is how it usually goes. And it may seem like everyone else around you is just happily munching away on their biscuits, just staring at you like uhhhh what are you doing?
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? IT'S REALLY NOT LIKE THAT!!! Seriously, I'm here to tell you from experience (and lots of it) that most risks just don't end in reward. They just don't. The people that have biscuits are the ones who tell their stories, nobody talks about how they ho-hummed along home and ate their bowl of cheerios. (Is this metaphor still making sense? I think I'm getting carried away :)
It's kind of like when you see bad reviews about something online. Mostly, people only feel inclined to review something if they have something negative to say about it. I honestly can't remember the last time I had a really great experience with something and decided I was going to go online and review it, you know? I think it's kind of the same thing. And you know what? That doesn't mean the negative outweighs the positive, just like it doesn't mean that the biscuits outweigh the cheerios. People just talk about the biscuits more.
This message of risk equaling reward is SO widespread nowadays. I personally see it ev-uh-ree-where. Pinterest, instagram, blogs... you name it. It's not that the message is wrong... not at all. It's totally true. You DO have to take risk it for the biscuit. You WON'T gain anything if you don't risk anything. BUT, I think we see it so much that we forget the actual risk part of it. The part where you just don't gain anything. The part where you embarrass yourself. Nobody talks about that. Well I'm gonna.
Another BUT, and I believe this with every ounce of my being, one day , you're gonna get that biscuit. And it's going to be 8000 times more delicious than if you'd gotten it on your first try. And you are NEVER going to forget all those bowls of Cheerios. And you are NEVER going to take that biscuit for granted. Ever, ever, ever. Like ever.
And, (and I believe this with every ounce of my being too), while it may seem like the most impossible thing in the world to think, most of the time, THERE IS A REASON that biscuit is not yours yet. Even if it seems like it may be the most perfectly timed, perfectly suited, most perfect biscuit ever, it's not. Because if it was, it'd be yours. And sometimes it takes every ounce of my being for me to understand that, but I choose to believe it's true.
Back when I was a little sophomore in college and lots of stuff was seemingly not going my way, I wrote a blog post (which you should not find because awkwardness) that said (among other things) You don't always get what you want. But sometimes when you don't get it, you realize you didn't want it that badly in the first place. It makes you trust something greater than yourself.
I think sometimes it just takes us longer to realize we didn't want that biscuit. Sometimes it may take years, but that's when we have to trust.
So all you Cheerio-eaters out there, don't worry! I promise there are more of us than you think. As important as the risk-taking is, it's also important that we don't feel like we're the only ones who aren't getting that reward on the first try. It's important for us to realize that risk does not ALWAYS equal reward, that it's normal to take a risk and fall flat on your face. As creatives, I think we get down on ourselves about things like that A LOT, and as much inspiration and encouragement as there is out there, there's not much in the way of "It's okay, life is not always about big breaks and big risks leading to big rewards, and don't get down on yourself if you fail a lot, and you are not alone, and you are probably still awesome anyway." So I'm starting that right now. What I just said. Yeah.
As a kind-of-unrelated aside, here is a really interesting video for creatives. Elizabeth Gilbert discusses how and why creatives are faced with fear. Definitely worth the watch :)