I could say that my Etsy shop has been a failure. And that would be true. It's been almost a year and I've only had a few sales here and there. But it would only be true if I stopped working on it.
The only thing that makes failure a period on the end of a sentence is that nothing follows it. But if I were to keep going, then it's just a dip in the road and who knows where that line is headed next. If I keep making work, it is natural that it'll improve. Failure doesn't have to stick.
So then, what about success? You could argue that success is easy to measure. You could count clients, gigs, measure how prolific you were year by year, or look back and see how much the work has improved. But what about when you're not selling well, or are stuck in a rut and don't know what to make next? What if you don't care to sell at all? Or what if no one ever saw anything you made...would you still make it?
Maybe success is just about the process. It's a somewhat wobbly continuous road of curiosity, creation, and problem solving. It's not the end of a goal but a commitment to keep moving. Because once you get to the end of a project or reach a goal a new one is just around the corner.
This week I've been super into watching the Winter Olympics. Shaun White threw down an epic gold medal winning run in the snowboard halfpipe final. Now there are rumors he might compete in skateboarding for the 2022 Olympics (yes please). With a four year gap until the next Olympics there has to be a love found in the process despite the difficult days.
Maybe failure and success are not at opposite sides of the spectrum, but rather right next to each other. And if you keep flipping failure over it turns into success.