Working in public is important. Validation is not.
We live in a very, very noisy world. It's easier than ever to reach people all over the globe and show them the things we make. There's a problem though. You aren't making enough, if any, of that noise.
Part of being independent is sharing what you love with others, and I don't see people doing it anywhere near enough. You shouldn't be nervous to share things that you create. It's a fast track to growing your craft and to be honest, not sharing your work is hindering your career, learning and likely stopping you from consistently putting out content like you've always wanted to. You aren't even signing up for the race.
Work in public
No, I'm not talking about carting your overly sticker clad MacBook to the local Starbucks. I'm talking about sharing your very best ideas with the world as often as you can. If you can sharpen this discipline of distributing your creations, you open up a whole new realm of possibility you had been completely ignoring. Paving the way for new opportunities, clients, feedback, discussions, fans.
This is a straightforward practice, but an important one. Methods are commonly overlooked in favour of newer, more elaborate strategies. While these have their place, people get caught up in them far too often. Taking things back to basics is sometimes the best strategy until you build that discipline, find the things you love working on and are consistently creating and sharing them.
By doing this and pushing yourself further by continually sharing your work, you grow your skills and learn a considerable amount more, through feedback and through reflection. If you just make something and hide it away in a folder, you'll forget about it and the time put into that work is mostly wasted as there was no tangible result from it. What a shame.
Stop caring so much
It's easy to say, but it took me a very long time to grasp. Most people care way too much about inconsequential bullshit. How many "hearts" you get for posting a collection of pixels on social media should not negatively affect you so much. Shifting your focus from wanting attention so much to actually concentrating on what's essential: Learning and doing better work. Everything else will come with time. Your supporters will show themselves as you share your work and spread your message, but try not to hold their opinion too close to your heart. Humans can be very fickle.
What if it's not good enough?
If you aren't releasing content because you believe what you're working on isn't "good" enough, or you've decided you don't like it, this too is a problem.
If you think you and your work isn't of high enough calibre to share, you need to work on that. Build your confidence by practising more, asking friends and family to look at your work, seeing a therapist to help sustain a healthy ego, or just say "fuck it", and do it anyway.
Finally, if you're not excited to share what you're working on, that's not a good time for anyone. Seek to make it more captivating for you, or if that's not possible, find something new to work on that you'd be proud to release.
The moral here is: you care way too much, and you aren't taking control of your craft as effectively as you should be. By remaining silent with your work, you cut yourself off. By caring too much about "likes" to post somewhere, you're missing out on a whole world of opportunity.
Life is short. Do awesome shit and show everyone you can.