Serene Illustrations
Posted on June 15, 2017 by Serene on Personal, Serene Illustrations

What Happens When Your Hard Work Doesn’t Pay Off

Just a little disclaimer before I begin: The purpose of this blog post is not to be a whiny bitch about how things didn’t go my way. You’ll notice that my preliminary reaction wasn’t a, “Oh woopdie do, lets look at the bright side of the situation, where the rainbows and butterflies belong.” Failure can happen to anyone, and everyone reacts to it in their own way. Sometimes that reaction is negative, which is also very human. What I’m trying to do is explain my thought process, and how it’s progressed from my initial response to failure.

I recently started a new zodiac series. This involved filming myself sketching out my original interpretation of zodiac signs. In these videos, I simultaneously filmed myself providing advice to the art/general community (You can watch the video I’ll keep referring to in this post below). What some people might not initially think about when it comes to content creating is how much work gets out into the final product they see. I put numerous of hours planning ideas for multiple zodiac signs, coming up with the sketches for all 12, revising a good copy and filming each one. Even more hours were put into planning what I wanted to talk about in each video, then filming and editing everything.

Then there’s the component of putting myself on YouTube, something I’ve never done before. It wasn’t a walk in the park to put myself on social media to begin with, so to put a video of myself talking about something I wasn’t sure would be valuable or interesting to people was absolutely terrifying. I wasn’t entirely sure how people would interpret it, or if they would care about it at all. To just say that I was a little nervous sharing my first video was an understatement because, in my head, I was opening myself up to criticism and failure.

Approximately half a day after pushing my series out, I was about to face the reality that it would do… completely shit. I was doing a giveaway along with this video, and there were 0 entries. People didn’t seem to know how to enter the giveaway, or maybe they just didn’t care to. The lack of response on social media and on the video gave me the impression that maybe what I was saying was not valuable or worth listening to. This was one of the biggest fears I had coming true.  Although I knew it wasn’t the healthiest to jump the gun over the results, I was already compiling a list of excuses for myself rationalizing why people weren’t participating: Maybe it was a long day for most people, and they just didn’t check social media yet. Maybe they’ll watch it, and participate when they get home from work.

After 48 hours, nothing changed. By this point, I was confident that my video already became irrelevant on all social platforms. To put it lightly, I was upset that all my hard work didn’t pay off. After all the hours put into turning an idea into something tangible, and after getting so excited about the project, it didn’t seem like it was worth it anymore.

I did what any typical excessively critical person did in this situation, and started over analyzing the situation. This included comparing myself to friends and other self starters who created similar content. I mulled over the fact that I didn’t get the same bustling support as they did, and wondered why. I recounted all the steps I took in creating this series, and tried to identify a flaw in my process: Maybe my sketch just wasn’t very good. Should I not have shown my face in the video? Should I have promoted at a different time? Used a different outlet? Made my description less wordy? Made the giveaway less complicated?

Don’t get me wrong, I understood that it wasn’t always about the numbers. However, coming from a business background, I was regularly brainwashed with the concept that performance and results is a key reflection of success. In that moment, it was difficult not to focus on the numbers and the blaring results that literally screamed failure. I already had all 12 zodiac signs planned out because this was meant to be a huge project that I set out for myself to do all year around. After seeing how poorly this first one turned out, I started revaluating whether I wanted to stop there. I didn’t want to continue the project if it was always going to feel like it was going no where, and feel like it was a waste of time.

The turning point of my pessimism began a few days later when a friend, whom I haven’t talked to in a long time, sent me message out of the blue. It began with telling me that he enjoyed my video, and ended with encouragement to never stop documenting my journey. This message meant a lot to me because, as simple as it was, it was an indicator to me that what I was doing was worth it. As nice as it would be to have my video reach thousands and receive overflowing support I was lowkey fantasizing about, it wasn’t something I needed, and it wasn’t what I was aiming for. As long as I was able to inspire at least one person and get someone to think outside of the box, it was enough for me.

There could have been a lot of factors why the video wasn’t successful, and I can definitely spend days picking at it. But regardless of the results, the important thing is that I still did it. It started with an idea that I was passionate about and wanted to turn into a reality. I could have very well sat on my ass, and kept the idea parked in my head to completely avoid the possibility of failure. But instead, I set a project for myself, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and actually completed it. The process was a new challenge that I got to be excited about, and I even learnt a few new things from it. The results may not have been what I expected but at least I tried my best. That’s already way more than what a lot of people can say they’ve done. Some people never summon the courage to even start. I should be proud.

And I am 🙂

So will I continue with this zodiac series? Oh yes. I started it, and I will continue to put 100% into it. Thank you to those who have supported me, even if it’s just silent appreciation from afar.


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