Q: I believe that fear of being laughed at, low self-esteem and being a failure in life is part of my problem. Now that I am 41, the fear is not there so much, but I feel like it's too late for me now to do the creative things I always wanted to do.
A: Portia, you probably know the story of Anna Mary Robertson Moses (aka Grandma Moses), who gained fame as a painter only in her late 70s and went on to become one of the more celebrated American artists of her time. So let's put a stop to the notion that it's ever too late to explore your creative impulses. More importantly, you cannot ever let fear prevent you from pursuing what you love to do. Most of the stories of great artists are stories of perseverance. The rejection letters accumulated by literature's most famous authors would stretch to the moon. James Joyce's first book, Dubliners, was rejected 22 times and sold fewer than 400 copies (120 of those to Joyce himself) in its first year. Many now consider him the greatest novelist of the 20th century. The first Chicken Soup manuscript was turned down by 33 publishers, but the series went on to sell more than 80 million copies.
When it comes to exploring your creative side, it's very easy to think of all the reasons you can't do it—you don't have the time, you don't have the money, etc.—but if you are truly passionate about expressing yourself, you can find a way. When you feel as though you can't do something, the simple antidote is action: Begin doing it. Start the process, even if it's just a simple step, and don't stop at the beginning. Take the next step and the next until what you've dreamed about begins to become reality. Don't worry about how your work will be received; don't worry about rejection or laughter. Create for yourself first. There will be time enough to share your work with an audience, but first you must produce something.
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