She has an art degree. Two, in fact. The pottery she makes is beautiful. She has what it takes to make a solid living from her craft.
Instead, she tends bar and works part-time on the assembly line for a manufacturing company.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what Jeff Civillico said in an interview on Escape Adulthood LIVE. He is an award-winning Las Vegas headliner, entertainer, speaker, and emcee. He told us that when he speaks to young people, one of the questions he gets asked the most is, “Who discovered you?”
After a brief pause, his answer is… “Me!”
And it’s true. If you listen to the interview (and I recommend you do), you’ll hear Jeff describe the lengths he went to in order to find success in one of the most difficult environments in show business. It is an inspiring tale of grit, persistence, and ingenuity.
Yes, he had help. He had partners. But he picked himself.
Jeff believes one of the downsides of the proliferation of shows like America’s Got Talent and The Voice is that kids growing up watching the shows expect that getting discovered is the ticket to success.
In reality, you aren’t “discovered.” There are no “big breaks.” At least they aren’t required.
There is no singular event that will cause or prevent your success.
You win by increments.
The reason my pottery-making friend isn’t living the life of her dreams is not because she didn’t get discovered. It’s because she didn’t make the follow-up call to the pottery store owner to ask to cover some of his hours in exchange for some shelf space to sell her wares. She didn’t do enough art fairs in the sweltering summer heat to build up a client base one customer at a time. She didn’t start an Instagram account to display her beautiful creations and the process for making them. Either she didn’t want it bad enough, or she erroneously believed that the art degree was the final step on the journey, or she expected someone to discover her and magically grant all her wishes.
Maybe it’s a little of all three. Regardless, it’s a shame.
It’s not difficult to make an average living in an average career working for an average company. But if you want to do something remarkable with your life, or if you have a dream that doesn’t quite fit the mold of “average,” well, that requires you to pick yourself and spend your days accumulating little breaks.
Or as artist and writer Molly Crabapple reflected, “I’ve never had a big break. I’ve just had tiny cracks in this wall of indifference until finally, the wall wasn’t there anymore.”
A college degree might be a stepping stone, a ticket you need to play the game, but it’s not the end of the line. And if your dream matters to you, you mustn’t wait for c-list celebrities to validate you, politicians to save you, or gatekeepers to let you in.
Stop waiting to be discovered.
Pick yourself. Make your own way.
Win by increments.