Roll Call: 9 Creatives Share a Time They Felt Success
If you haven't already guessed it by now, we here at Pass/Fail think that success is more than just a finish line. We believe that success is something that is deeply personal and means something completely different for each individual. This online publication's mission is to open up the idea of what succeeding really looks like, and in that same spirit we asked 10 different creative types to share a time they felt most successful.
Professionally: Love Child's first Mini Market was huge success. We could have never dreamed the vendor participation and the turnout, but the real success came in the form of the room full of moms, dads, and babies who made time for themselves to come shop and mingle. They arrived early, stayed late, reconnected with friends, breastfed on the steps of the South Congress Hotel, and with little kids dancing to the overhead music, it felt like a dream to watch unfold.
Personally: With the success and planning of my wardrobe styling career, building Love Child, and planning Mini Market, comes time away from my family and the complicated relationship every mother has with mom guilt. Personal success came from a simple gesture with my son. I was in the car with my two year old when he turned, reached for my hand, and said, "good job, mama". Whatever he was referring to in his little two year old mind, I'll never know, but I'll take it as validation for all the hard work that goes into motherhood.
I’ve been with Chromat since August of 2013, & I’ve had so many cute grin moments: I designed a body cage that ended up on a dancer for Beyoncé’s 2014 VMA’s performance, I designed a custom bodycage for Ariana Grande’s 2015 tour, I have drawn things on paper that Beyoncé has seen with her own eyes! Grin.
Over time I worked my way up to being the Creative Design Director (DON'T get too impressed, we are a SUPER small team). This meant making a lot of choices: concepting new collections, new swim styles, new runway styles, color direction, yada yada. This was always something I was putting my two cents in, but now I was in charge of it! Grin.
My first season as design director was SS17, we showed in September 2016, right before the election. The world was weird but we as a brand had so much hope for the future. I got to vote for the first woman presidential nominee! Grin.
I love the quiet everyday success of going into work each day, giving 100%, solving problems (usually a lot of small ones), encouraging my coworkers and then feeling peace when I go home knowing that although it might not be a day to remember, all these regular, forgettable days are to be celebrated and thought of as successes.
I’ve felt most successful when I know I’ve put every ounce of time, energy, and intellect I’ve got into a project, and I feel good about what I’ve put out there. Nice words are great, but ‘success’ to me has meant living up to my own expectations and no one else’s.
I think my biggest “successes” are surviving all the bad things. Surviving it all is my success. It’s the thing I’m most proud of. Surviving the darkness. Always coming out better. It embodies who I am. I’m a survivor. I always find a way where others don’t see one or when I can’t myself. I’m my success. There’s nothing externally that I’ve ever felt successful about. That’s not me. It never will be. And I don’t want it to be.
Brandon Acuña, specialty coffee professional.
This year for my son's birthday, I decided to keep things simple. I skipped the Pinterest search and just made it about him. We made sure his favorite friends were there and ordered an ugly grocery store cake. Looking over at him running around with his buddies, you could tell that he felt like the most special human in the world and thought to myself... we did it right this time! Low stress. Very happy kid. Huge success!
I think so many of us are on the search for success, as if it is this physical object we will one day be rewarded with — maybe it looks like a nice house, a decent savings account, an annual vacation abroad, a new car, or a fancy title. But to me, I believe success is something that cultivates from deep within us. It's not a singular moment in time marked by a win or a big purchase. It's the confidence to take risks and try new things. It's taking a chance on yourself and your passions because they're worth risking everything for. It's learning what it means to own your truth, letting of what's not meant for you and making space for what is. It's working three jobs while you grow your creative community and learn the ropes. It's creating space to fail and picking yourself back up stronger than ever before when you do. It's hustling hard in the midst of the unknown and insecurity and doubts. It's the long nights and hard work and living paycheck to paycheck when needed so that you can grow a sustainable, fulfilling future down the road. It's questioning everything, all of the time. It's learning what it means to trust in yourself and that there is unfathomable value in working hard for what you believe in.
To me, success looks like figuring it out and there's something so undeniably beautiful about that and this season of life I'm in.
A time I felt successful was after my first good photo critique in class at art school. After what felt like many failed projects and lots of comparing myself, it felt amazing to hear I had made something successful that spoke to others, and I finally felt like I was at school to do what I had come to do. A more personal success too was actually around the same time, when I was having a rough few months away from home. I realized how many amazing friends I had made in such a short time, and how they all had my back (and knew when I needed them to). I felt very lucky to have brought such great, supportive people into my life.
While I try not to look back on the life I’ve lived in a plainly linear fashion (because I am still not fully convinced that time works that way), it does happen sometimes, and it’s hard not to be a little harsh toward my past self in the process. I’ve been a lot of things along the the way to being the person I am today: an impatient and unempathetic partner, an irresponsible manager of money, a temperamental kid trying to become a calm and dependable adult.
My partner has always been a busy and active person, but this year has been something else entirely for us. She’s taken on a new job, new responsibilities, and an extremely time consuming hobby turned lifestyle turned side hustle racing bikes as a professional across the US.
It feels good to be more intentional now than I’ve been before, to be in my partner’s corner, to be a dependable foundation for both of us as our day-to-day flies by faster than we ever thought possible.
Sometimes I (gently) wonder if a younger me could have handled any single week of this year of my life. But I can look back now with fondness on all the things I’ve learned the hard way, lessons that prepared me to face new problems, overcome challenges and find success a little more easily this season than ever before.