BWW Blog: Handling Rejection
When I was around 15 or 16, there were auditions in my town for The Miracle Worker. I was so excited. My younger brother has special needs, and is non-verbal, so the play meant a lot to me and I really, really wanted to play Annie. I practiced the accent, read the script a bunch, watched the movie, and did everything I could to prepare. (I now realize this should've been a sign that dramaturgy is the path for me).
I felt super confident after my audition, and felt optimistic that I would get to be part of the show. Yes, it was probably cocky, but at the time I was 15 and thought I was the Meryl Streep of Scranton, PA. (I was absolutely, without a doubt, not that.) As you may have guessed from the title of this article, I did not get the part, and was not cast in the show at all. I was devastated.
When I got to college, I had this pattern when auditioning. I would go in, do my thing, get a callback. I would go to the callback, and I would just know. I wasn't getting this. I could tell, but I would try to tell myself that it was my anxiety, or that I was overanalyzing every little thing, and that this could work out. Then, I would get the rejection email, and I would try (and fail) to put on a brave face.
Except, after awhile, that stopped happening. Certain opportunities did work out, and I started getting to work on some really amazing projects that I cared a lot about. And, when they didn't, I bounced back much faster than I used to. After that first rejection at home, I sobbed in the shower and was upset for the whole week. It was very dramatic. The last time I got a "no," I was sad for a little bit, but not cripplingly so, and I moved on. I won't say that it gets to the point where you're apathetic to it. That hasn't been my experience; it always stings a little bit.
However, it becomes part of the process in my experience. You prepare, if it works out, then the process is long, and if it doesn't, the process is short (and over) and you find what's next. Being on the other side of the table has also helped put things in perspective for me. I can't begin to emphasize how often myself and people I've worked with have been devastated that we can't cast someone because they're awesomely talented, but not right for the show, or have too many conflicts. I used to feel like rejection was personal. It absolutely isn't. Knowing that helps.
It's a bit of an unfortunate reality that getting what feels like an endless stream of "no's" is part of this. Sometimes, in fact, maybe even most of the time, things don't work out. But, most of the time isn't all of the time, and I'm of the opinion that the times it does work out makes it worth all of the times it doesn't.