1. Participation in a collective exhibition is worth it if you miss the community - there is a chance to experience the joy of interacting with colleagues. After all, there is little complicity in freelancing and you do everything yourself. Such pleasures are part of life, and this is a plus.
2. Before thoughtlessly grabbing an exhibition, you need to estimate how much you will have to spend yourself on it. Feel the limitations of reality - by materials, timing or ability. Will they raise you or destroy you?
3. Decide on expectations: sales, communication at the opening with colleagues or your viewers, new viewers (explaining the work and deepening into your world) or getting the opinion of curators and professionals. Without concrete expectations, you run the risk of getting upset and walking with the feeling that something magical has not happened, and then digging for a long time what exactly.
4. It's even better not to have any expectations. It seems to me that such a skill becomes available only after at least 2-3 exhibitions.
5. Be sure to consider your preferences: if you see your work only on white walls or want to cooperate only with a polite and caring curator, do not give in to yourself. Compromises are reasonably possible and should not cross your boundaries.
6. And one more time! Calculate the cost of materials, conditions and complexity of installation in advance. And also correlate this with your own strength, taking into account the lack of financial return.
What role does all this play in your creative path? This definitely should not be a blue dream, because your career will not grow from this and you risk being disappointed. But if your self-determination depends on the anchors formed by society, then making exhibitions is a must. Although in a less costly way in terms of money and nerves, it will be to work out the issue of self-identification with a psychotherapist.