Our best success comes when we are true to ourselves.
With his illustrations tucked securely under his arm and with the confidence of a newly secured diploma, the 19-year-old entered the office.
He carried a new business card that read: “Artist, Illustrator, Letterer, Cartoonist; sign painting, Christmas cards, calendars, magazine covers, frontispieces, still life, murals, portraits, layouts, design, etc.”
This young man was willing to do just about anything that required a paintbrush! His wish from the time he was a small boy was to be an artist. In fact, he couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t want to be an artist. His calling card eventually got him inside the doors of the best publishing houses in the country.
Norman Rockwell’s painting career lasted 59 years, and he produced over 4,000 paintings, including his most familiar work in the Saturday Evening Post.
His artwork is recognized and loved by many. His paintings resonate with people far and wide. He painted recognizable scenes depicting common, everyday life: a happy gathering at a Thanksgiving feast, a soldier hugging family goodbye, or a young couple sharing ice cream. His paintings adorned magazine covers, hung in offices, and decorated parlor walls. Yet, during his life and after, he was sharply criticized by fellow artists. They felt that his work was too simplistic and predictable. Some even refused to acknowledge him as an artist.
That never seemed to bother Rockwell. He painted what he loved. He painted, as his psychiatrist once told him, “his happiness.” He stayed true to what he felt was important and ignored the critics.
In 1999, years after Rockwell’s death, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl said, “Rockwell is terrific. It’s become too tedious to pretend he isn’t.”
Sometimes we are tempted to seek approval from the few voices that are deemed expert. We may choose a path that will please the critics instead of the path that is a true reflection of our passions and abilities. In the end, our best comes when we are true to ourselves. If we want to excel, we must trust our passions, dreams, goals, and capacities. We must learn to shut out the voices of the world’s “experts” and be true to who we are.
A few tips:
- Consider the career you are pursuing. Is it bringing you the happiness you dreamed of?
If not, analyze changes you could make that would incorporate your skills and talents in areas you truly enjoy.
- As you pursue your dreams, don’t give way to critics who enjoy tearing others down. Be true to yourself and your own happiness.