I was last place in a race once. I mean dead last. A grown woman, being followed around by a 4 wheeler, just to make sure I didn't pass out. I crossed the finish line, and they took it down. TOOK. IT. DOWN. Just folded it up and started packing things away. No cheering, no "congratulations, you did it," just a "lets get this done and get home" grunt. Do you feel embarrassed for me? Don't be. I was so proud.
Because, you see, it was an Olympic distance triathlon, and little (not so little) old unathletic me finished! 1.5 K swim, 40 K bike ride, and 10 K run. Last place was not embarrassing at all.
Some people would consider this a failure. Probably not most, but there are some. I'm an optimist, so I never think I fail, just succeed in an unappreciated way, or learn ways NOT to do something.
This attribute of mine is a big part of how I became an artist. And also how I keep on painting when things aren't working. It pulls me through my ruts, and I'm able to look at my ugly paintings as the start of something beautiful.
When I first started painting, I had no teaching, no art education, no skill, nothing but an appreciation of art, and years of knowing myself and what I liked. I knew how badly I sucked. But I could see glimmers of things I actually did like, and those kept me going.
When I did start painting things I liked, I was rejected by 10 times as many shows and exhibitions as I got accepted to. It was just evidence to me that I needed to apply for more things. Failure is really all in our viewpoint. That's not to say I never get discouraged. I do feel like a failure when I don't sell anything for months and months. But (so far) the selling droughts end eventually. Then I'll sell something and get the rush of satisfaction that someone values what I've created.
How do you react to things that others might consider failure? I'd love to hear your thoughts.