How many times have we seen someone advertised as “an award-winning….”?
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Controversial writer Lauren Duca notes in her Twitter bio that she is an “Award-winning & -losing freelance journalist!!!”
While I don’t necessarily always agree with everything Duca writes, I find that line in her bio not only humorous but refreshingly honest.
When we don’t win an award or hear back from a publication we pitch (or the pitch is rejected) it can be discouraging. We want validation of our efforts. And yes, we also want the financial security of knowing that we can do our work well enough to make a living from it. Bills aren’t paid with rejections, so they can be nerve-wracking.
They’re also just a part of the business.
If we don’t try for the awards, assignments or anything else, we can’t fail… but we also can’t win.
That’s a lesson I’ve been working on myself. I had the opportunity recently to apply for a fellowship that would have been an excellent chance to learn more about my field. It’s highly competitive, but I figured I’d try anyway.
Then I chickened out.
I was fairly sure that even if I applied I wouldn’t get it, but to apply, I would’ve had to have asked for references from peers and former editors. I didn’t want to ask for references for something I knew they would know I had little chance of attaining.
I’ve missed other opportunities, too. I assume I’m not good enough for a publication, or that a publication has probably received tons of similar ideas, or that an award or fellowship is out of my league.
I know I have a strong portfolio and years of experience. I know I have good references. I know that they would willingly write the letters.
But it still makes me nervous.
Sometimes, I just decide that my work isn’t good enough, even my better pieces that meet all of the requirements.
If I applied, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get any of them. They are highly competitive. But I’ll never know if I don’t give myself a chance.
My challenge to myself this year has been to try harder– not just pitching for the ‘easy’ publications, but making an effort to reach more goals.My challenge to myself this year has been to try harder-- not just pitching for the 'easy' publications, but making an effort to reach more goals. Click To Tweet
I’ve received many rejections, and lots of silence. But I’ve also had some great successes that have encouraged me to keep it up.
I’ve also learned that while being “award-winning” is great, there are valuable lessons to be had in being “award-losing,” too.
Have you faced a similar challenge? How do you encourage yourself to stretch for bigger personal or professional goals? Do you have a ‘professional bucket list’?