BWW Blog: Monica Furman - Dealing With Rejection
As artists, actors, and overall human beings, we receive rejection all the time. But how we deal with rejection...that's an art. Rejection 101 isn't taught in any major perhaps because it cannot be defined or streamlined. Everyone deals with rejection differently. I asked a few artists that I look up to how they deal with rejection, in hopes that their methods inspire me to try something new:
Courtney Romano, Author and Speaker:
"Rejection is a concept we can use to help direct us forward when we have no idea what to do. There is pain in rejection, and we shouldn't try to avoid that because when it's used correctly, it's a clarifying pain. Our rejections are the obstacles that cause us to reroute what we're doing.
Artists are in the business of pushing boundaries and challenging assumptions. When we get everything we want or see ourselves as "successful" in the traditional sense, we aren't forced to question anything. Successes don't force introspection. They merely affirm old thought patterns. If we wanted that, there are far better professions to choose.
To innovate, to truly expand our artistry past its own self-service and create something of a legacy, we have no choice but to fail, to be rejected and to constantly allow all of our assumptions to be upended.
As an artist, to be able to not only withstand rejection, but to thrive because of it, is the key to any longevity our careers will have. Thriving means taking the total sense of the rejection in-the pain, humiliation, disenchantment, anger, sadness-and understanding it as a purposeful new direction. Maybe rejection nudges us to try a new medium, or a new collaboration, or even take the time we need to stop making and start being inspired again. The rejection itself is never the end of the story. When the world reroutes us, if we choose to stay present, feel the fullness of our uncomfortable emotions, and allow our intuition to guide us to the next lily pad, then we are building an indestructible fortitude."
Alejandro Rodriguez, Artist and Director of Future Leaders Network at Artists Striving to End Poverty:
"To answer your question about rejection, which as an freelance artist I'm intimately familiar with. First I try to let myself Feel my Feelings. :) All of 'em, without judgment: oftentimes anger, sometimes insecurity & doubt, sometimes existential dread. I don't run away from my "first blush" response to something bad because I don't want to displace my honest emotions in order to "put on a good face." You know what that looks like: "Me? NO WAY! I FEEL GREAT! I'm not sad, you're sad!"
But then I also try not to indulge. There's a moment, usually after 2-3 hours, or even a full day, when my "first blush" response morphs into a safety blanket. Or a coping mechanism. Or a performance for sympathy, from myself and others. (This phenomenon is very evident in the 2 and 4 year old nephews I'm caring for right now.) That's the moment when I try to direct my attention to something larger than me and my problem. I watch an artsy film, dive into a great book or volunteer to teach a class. The best lifesaver I know of during these moments is any activity that forces me to zoom out of my tiny life and remember the Pale Blue Dot I'm floating on. Also, mortality helps. Not in a morbid way, but ever since I lost a friend to a car accident in college I've used reflecting on death as a way to snap me out of my paralysis and my small-minded bullshit. Because in the end, I've only got one walk across this planet, so what the fuck am I doing wasting it by sobbing or pouting for hours on end. Go have a great meal. Jump in the ocean. Kiss someone.
Our days are numbered anyway. Am I really going to remember that I didn't book Person of Interest when I look back on it all?"
Julianne Katz, Choreographer and Performer:
"Wow, well, first of all, I don't think rejection ever gets easier to deal with. There is nothing comfortable about a big let down, especially when you are emotionally invested (and you should always be very invested, or why are you doing this in the first place?). My advice is to surround yourself with good friends- the people who love you, who make you laugh, and who make you feel important and special. Eventually, you are able to look back on your career path and see how "meant to be" everything was. It is difficult to see it/believe it while it is in process, but in retrospect, so many of those disappointments actually lead you to the "yes" that was supposed to be yours all along. You didn't get job A, but that kept you in the city and led you to opportunity B. I try to constantly remind myself this. Keep working hard, keep being good, keep constantly putting yourself out there. And the things that are yours will come to you."
How do you deal with rejection? Hopefully this article will give you some fresh ways to process.