This is a guest post by our friend and respected Art Coach Lezley Davidson.  Visit her site to get some of the best kept secrets on the business of art.

After 4 attempts, May was accepted into Sheridan’s Animation program.

If you didn’t already know – THIS. IS A VERY BIG DEAL.

Sheridan’s Animation program is referred to as “the Harvard of Animation” and acceptance is fiercely competitive. Each year 2500 people apply. Approximately 120 get in  – what’s the math on that? Less than 5% are accepted. Very steep odds against entry. Which is what makes this story so valuable.

Everyone at work (May is one of my staff) knew that she was working on her portfolio to apply to Sheridan Animation… again. Every one of us, at some point or another had encouraged her to try something different.

I suggested illustration, or (based on her hobbies) fashion design or set design or costume design. I was actively encouraging her to give up on the Animation program.

My reasoning was that I didn’t want to see her disappointed, or charging again and again against a brick wall that would never move for her. My idea was for her to try something that had better odds.

May listened with respect, again and again as I offered my 2 cents. She would agree that they were good points and had merit, but she was committed to the Animation program.

May believed Sheridan Animation was the best program to teach her the skills she needs and give her the best opportunities to pursue her artistic career goals.

Nothing else was good enough, thank you very much. End of story.

And she was right.

I was taught powerfully, valuable and undeniable life lessons by a 21 year old:

  • Never give up.
  • Focus.
  • If you’re committed and work hard, you will get what you want.
  • Don’t listen to anyone else – even if they mean well.
  • Believe in yourself and your reasons for going forward, even against the odds.
  • Try again.
  • Even when you fail. Try again.
  • Get up. Try again.
  • Yes, it’s embarrassing. Try again anyway.

I would have given up before May did. I would have accepted that I wasn’t going to get in and I would’ve taken animation somewhere else or chosen a different path, one of less resistance.

I see May, and my own reaction to her story, and only now do I understand:

The momentary sting of failure is fleeting. The sting that lingers is when we allowed fear to keep us small and prevent us from even trying. 

Looking back on our lives, the rejections fade, grow dim and become unimportant.

What we remember are the moments when we committed to our dreams and persevered and believed in ourselves …and won.

For more tips on conquering the fears you face as an artist, check out "How to Keep Fear from Ruining Your Art Business."