The Last Chance: Giving Yourself An Easy Way Out

Something has been driving me crazy about X Factor. (And yes, my love/hate relationship with this show continues.)

“This is my last chance.”

All of the over-30s are saying it. And so do some of the others. Marcus Canty said his mom gave him two years to chase his dreams before he had to find an “alternative route.” That’s all he’s got.

… Or else what? What exactly happens at the end of two years? He has to get a job? Go to college? Did he make a pact with the wicked witch to stop singing for ever at the end of two years? He turns into a frog? I don’t get it.

Here’s the thing. There are tons of people out there living lives, supporting themselves, supporting families, getting an education, working 9-to-5s, getting older, etc. The ones that are passionate enough about their art find ways to keep at it. They practice with their bands on the weekends or take a painting class at night or get up earlier than everyone else so they can spend the first hour of the day writing. They just do it.

There’s no reason the X Factor contestants can’t do that too. In fact they have a leg up now because X Factor has given them a platform. Just being on the show is going to open up a ton of doors for these performers, if they’re just willing to go find them. (Read how former contestant Simone Battle made the most of the X Factor platform.)

Allowing yourself to believe you’ve reached your last chance is just giving yourself an easy way out. You’re letting yourself quit. Oh well. You gave it your best shot. It’s over now.

I realize that a lot of this “last chance” business is not the contestants’ fault. It’s the show’s fault for trying to wring out every ounce of drama they can. But it’s still a ludicrous statement. And the more you repeat something like that, the more likely you are to believe it.

An artist doesn’t believe in last chances. When it comes to the business of landing a record deal or a publishing contract or what have you, the odds are always against you—there is just so much talent out there and a relatively small number of contracts available for new artists. There are two kinds of people who make it: the very lucky and the very persistent.

There is no last chance. There’s the chances you take and the chances you let pass you by.

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