“The Man in the Arena” is quoted every year on my son’s wrestling banquet program. I love that the coach is praising the attempt. He speaks to the courage it takes to be on a wrestling team. While it is a team sport, it is only you and your opponent on the mat. All eyes are on you. You stand or fall alone.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blodd; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Excerpt from the speech “Citizen in a Republic”
April 23, 1910
I think that the stand or fall is true for all of us-no matter what we do. Some of us take the stand and go out into that arena. We try and try again. For artists and authors, our arena is just as public as those wrestlers. We stand up and say look here is my effort. It is so hard to remember that it is not the critic who places value onto your work. You must have the fortitude to know that everyone sees things differently and that critic may not see your way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One person may point out the faults and the next may praise your work.
How do you feel about your effort? Does it speak to you? Are you proud? Do you love your art? You should have enthusiasm, love, and devotion to the art that you make. It is an outlet for your creativity. Never let the fear of a critic stand in your way. Remember you are not a timid soul who hides in the crowd. You had the courage to place yourself front and center. You stand in the harsh light. You have taken a risk. Raise your head with pride and return to the arena. Never give up; never surrender.