Your Unique Path


The path of an artist is often an uphill climb…

I was watching The Help Desk on OWN this weekend, and Cheryl Strayed (best-selling author of Wild) made a comment that summed up a concept I’ve been trying to share with my students over the years.  She described it perfectly by saying:

“Don’t just look at their outcomes… look at their paths.”

Her point was that it’s great to aspire to be like others, but there’s more to what that person has achieved.  They walked a path that lead them to the outcomes they have.  And that path created the person they have become, and it will continue to impact their achievements as they proceed along their unique, artistic trail.  Their path may contain some great honors… but it’s also paved with disappointments, hours of preparation and practicing, failures, and mistakes.  It may also be littered with self-doubt and gouged with holes of anguish and emotional losses.

It’s easy to look at another dancer and think to yourself:

“I want that paid gig…”

“I deserve that teaching spot more than he/she does…”

“I should be sponsoring this event, because I’ve been dancing longer…”

But it’s the unique path that artist followed in order to gain those opportunities.  Are you brave enough to attend unpaid events to network or ask friends/family if you can perform somewhere?  Have you prepared a marketing packet and contacted venues every day, enduring constant rejection, just to get that one teaching gig?  Do your friends in the arts community share your name with organizers?  These are examples of some bricks placed along an individual’s path.  Perhaps, instead of focusing on the highlights of another artist’s life and being jealous or even attempting to cherry-pick their results, you should…

Cheri at Kinetic Fire by Malleable Reality

Cherie Dawn at Kinetic Fire (Photo by Malleable Reality)

blaze your own trail!

Concentrate on yourself and your unique road through life, and understand that failures and setbacks are okay.  Sometimes, they’re even necessary.  If you want a certain outcome, think about the steps necessary to get there… and don’t be afraid to take the first one!  Keep moving or you’ll fall into complacency and stagnation.

vintage golden wallper

Card of Inspiration by Jessica Galbreth. Visit her at

Walking our own paths (especially as artists) can be intimidating, because we often walk alone.  But there’s peace in knowing that the path is yours and in recognizing that you do have some control over the stones laid down.  Pave your way with hard work, tenacity, kindness and bravery.  In six months or a year, you won’t believe how far you’ve come!


One Comment

  1. Cherie Dawn says:

    Great post, Zahara! Indeed, it’s easy to just see the gold at the end of the rainbow, but it’s when we get our hands dirty with work that we progress. :)

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