Dare to be Shameless

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"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
-- Mark Twain

"Shameless?" What am I talking about, exactly? Well, that's what it takes sometimes, to dare to keep trying. You have to not be afraid to show yourself, to expose your efforts to the world, to dare to take a stand, even though some may say that you have no "business" trying.

Before I address the subject of discouraging critics, let me first explain what I mean when I use the term shameless: It's a mind set that says, "What have I got to lose?" It's trying out a different hobby, taking a new class, dabbling in a new skill, with no expectation other than to have a good time and learn a few things. No fretting about perhaps being the worst in the class. (I've been the worst a few times—hey, it happens to everyone!) No wondering "What will people think?" Bah! Who cares? Dare to try something for the sheer adventure of it—don't worry about what the outcome will be. Maybe you'll shock yourself and show more potential than you anticipated. Maybe you'll decide that you aren't that serious about it after all, but you enjoyed the process of learning. Or perhaps you'll decide that with effort, satisfying results are within your grasp—no matter what anyone else says.

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One of the most admirable things a person can do is to lead a life of this kind of shamelessness. Such an attitude will bring success—success that comes from exploration, effort, and an adventuresome spirit. Success does not come to those who are afraid, bitter, or too timid to try. It's very rare to regret the earnest attempt, but how many people look back on their lives and wish they'd tried this or not given up on that?

Unfortunately, when you are shameless, there might be people who will be highly motivated to try drag you down. Sadly, some people are bitter or perhaps even jealous, and they'll take you to task for trying. You must not listen to them. And alas, sometimes the negative voice of discouragement is coming from inside of you—is yourself. "Who do you think you are, trying this? Who are you kidding? Don't you realize that you're making a fool of yourself?" Don't listen to these words—failure will be the result.

Sure, there's a time to keep practicing and a time to display your work in the Big Art Show (sometimes it's good to wait a spell, until you're a little more "ready"), but effort and hope should never be squelched. Don't be afraid!

"Has Been" and William Shatner.

Oh my goodness, what does William Shatner have to do with this subject? Quite a lot, actually. William Shatner is the epitome of shameless, for one. He's had failures and successes; he's done some bombs and really embarrassed himself a few times. But he has never given up. And more specifically to the subject at hand, he's written a song which directly addresses "Never Done Jack" discouraging types. "Has Been" (the title song from his well-reviewed album) is about those kinds of people who are too afraid to do much themselves, but will "laugh at others' failures, though they have not done sh*t." People like this enjoy picking others' efforts apart, because it deflects away from their own cowardice or inaction.

More from the song: "The Never Was talking about Still Trying . . . Forever Bitter gossiping about Never Say Die." In other words, Mr. "Never Was" is picking at Mrs. "Still Trying" and Ms. "Forever Bitter" is gossiping about Mr. "Never Say Die." That's what some people do—they're a "Never Was" because they never dared to put in the effort—but they jump at the chance to take a few potshots at a "Never Say Die" type.

So what if you aren't the best? So what if you skirt around mediocre at times? Better to be a "Never Say Die" person, even if, at the end of the day, you don't ever make the big bucks or rake in high falutin' art awards. You'll be a success by simply never giving up—and you'll be a much happier person than a "Never Done Jack" type can ever dream of being.

It's hurtful and depressing, though, to realize that some people thrive on mocking others' efforts. Let's face it, some people wallow in being downright mean. Try to push past the hurt of being the target of a deliberately unkind person. There's not much you can do about them—their bitterness is something that they need to fix within themselves. The best thing you can do is recognize them for what they are, and then avoid interacting with them as much as possible.

Remember that criticism is still necessary.

While you are well-advised to avoid and ignore the "Never Done Jack" type of critic, don't think that you are some fragile person who shouldn't be subjected to any criticism. It's still necessary. As I mention elsewhere on this site, you will only delay your progress if you are resistant to honest, well-intended criticism. Some of it may not be accurate or not be given with knowledge (you need to discern this for yourself), but you still must be open to hearing feedback.

Related link: On my blog I have a post about "Dreaming big" which fits in nicely with the topic of this article. Check it out!

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