We are all afraid of being sell outs.
“Sell out” is one of those labels anyone who ever attempts to do anything creative is afraid of. At least a little bit. (You may be inherently more confident than I am and immune to this fear.)
It’s a barb people will throw at you sometimes when whatever it is you’re doing grows a little bit. And when you hear this label the natural reaction is to think inside, “Have I done something wrong? Am I being untrue to the thing I’ve always wanted to do?”
Those aren’t bad questions to ask, but I think there’s a better one to ask first:
“What does it mean to be a sell out?”
Put simply, when someone calls you a sell out, it means you have failed to live up to their secret, personal definition of success. They had an idea of who you were and who you were going to be. And when you tried something new or something changed, you were no longer fulfilling their definition of success. You failed according to them and are thus a sell out.
The weird thing is we give that label a lot of power. We allow it to restrict the risks we’ll take or leaps we’ll make. I personally am afraid of that phrase, sell out.
But why do we care so much about being called that? You didn’t start chasing your dream according to a stranger’s definition of success. You didn’t start building your thing based on what a stranger told you was acceptable or unacceptable. So why now, in the middle of something that might be really positive growth are you looking to strangers for validation that you are or aren’t selling out?
That’s not to say that family members or heart friends won’t challenge the decisions you make. And they should. People who love you should speak into the stuff you’re doing. But people who love you won’t call you a sell out if you get successful. That’s the weird thing about “selling out.” We fall in like with a band and tell our friends they should fall in like with them too. When they finally start to get some momentum and more people experience the music we wanted more people to experience, we call them a sell out.
It doesn’t make sense. But it’s still a label you might have to deal with depending on what you’re working on. And if it comes your way, do not accept delivery.
You didn’t start your dream with a stranger’s definition of what you should do. Don’t stop your dream when they tell you what you shouldn’t do.