Success…to be deemed successful—the story we all want—that earnest yearning to be looked upon as one of the few who knows exactly what they are doing. The admiration, the fandom even that we fantasise about when we put our plough to work. We are positive that we can make a career out of our hobby or passion and so we pursue it for love, for joy, for self-gratification; and in the hope that someone else, maybe two, will connect with our conviction. Sometimes, our hunch is right; we get all the plaudits and everyone wonders why we did not start off earlier. At other times, however, they give the damning verdict—”You are not nearly as good as you thought.”
This brings me to the mini-furore around billionaire heiress, DJ Cuppy who has been lampooned for putting out terrible work. Her current single “Charged Up,” appears to have triggered the breaking point button in a lot of people. The responses have been far from kind. “She really needs to stop singing, she sounds worse than an upcoming artiste.” “She needs to quit music.” “That’s not a song, it’s a comedy skit,” are some of the comments that have trailed the release of the song. Others have attributed her “insistence” on doing music to the absence of the right friends and advisors who would have told her the “bitter truth” about her apparent lack of singing talent.
This matter trended on Twitter for quite a while and I couldn’t help feeling bemused by the umbrage it elicited. It was befuddling how much time and energy strangers expended telling someone they do not know what they should be doing. So, DJ Cuppy cannot sing to save Nigeria from debt, but how is that anybody’s scruple? What happened to ignoring her artistry as the (mis)adventure of a rich kid? And what if she’s well aware of this, but just chooses to have fun with it anyway? Surely, there’s no law against self-expression that does no harm to the next person.
The pervading rhetoric is to stick to what one knows they are really good at so the possibility of failure is almost non-existent. I find this to be unexciting. It may be true that the chances of achieving success are higher when we focus on developing our natural talent, but it’s also true that the possibilities are unknown when we try something new. Yes, we may fail. It’s a valid probability. But we may also excel! Life’s too short to restrict ourselves to attempting only safe ventures and it is in trying new things that we get to discover the many other areas we are gifted in.
Besides, no one has the prerogative to dictate what another chooses to spend time pursuing. If Cuppy is releasing songs that should never make the airwaves, then the best way to respond to it would be to not listen to them. No rule compels an individual to pitch their tent with any one artiste, and to continue to rant and rave about how a person chooses to express themselves is a misguided move. One which borders on inanity and bullying.
Also, the danger in perpetuating a culture that seeks to stifle expression is increasing the likelihood of breeding a generation that is timid to try new things. Perfectionism becomes the order of the day, thereby ruining the beautiful and unpredictable journey that only comes with unfamiliar terrains. If everyone stuck to only what they knew or were comfortable with, how would we have scientific inventions or new genres of art?
The prospect of failure is actually what makes many of us put in the extra effort to succeed. And when success doesn’t happen, we learn from it. At least we would have tried—taken that bold step that conquers the dissenting voice that asks us to keep it safe. Everybody has a valid right to fail, in much the same way they reserve the right to succeed. The real tragedy is living a life devoid of adventures which includes failing because they ventured into unknown waters.
And who says one who is not naturally gifted at a thing cannot work hard enough to be at least decent at it? Contrary to what popular opinion might be, the ones who put themselves out there even though they are shaking with trepidation at what the audience’s reaction to their craft will be are the brave ones.
Those who dare to step foot outside their comfort zone should be accorded some measure of respect for refusing to be intimidated into silence. In any case, failure is laden with lessons success doesn’t have the potential to teach, and part of being a wholesome human is the varying experiences we garner through a life riddled with successes and failures.
Your right to fail is valid, you should explore it.