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BWW Blog: When It All Goes Wrong

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I just found out I didn't get the part. Again. Oh yeah, and it's raining. Not a great start to an article, but this is in fact the reality of my Tuesday.

Readers, throughout my last three articles (feel free to go check 'em out!) I have been pretty peppy, with quite a lot of exclamation points sprinkled throughout the pages. Yes, it's true that my sunshiney spirit makes up the majority of my natural demeanor- most of the paper plate awards I have won over the years include variations of "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Biggest Smile." And I LOVE it, truly! But that doesn't mean that the negatives of life and rejection don't ever come around and give me a run for my money, especially as an artist.

So, this article kind of switches focus from my previous entries (about the joys of life as an artist-of which there are many) to learning how to deal with THOSE kinds of days, when the world feels like it's against you and you just can't catch a break. I will also give special focus on dealing with the dreaded rejection, one of the...less fun parts about pursuing a career in theatre.

Everyone deals with rejection differently, but today I'm going to share my personal method of picking myself back up after a door closes- something that REALLY helped me during the throes of college auditions (for all my pre-collegiate readers). I also promise that I will use less exclamation points throughout this article!!! Starting...now. Okay, let's get right down to it.

Sometimes, you are doing really well theatrically- booking jobs, learning lots and truly feeling yourself grow. And other times, you just CANNOT get a role! Grr. It's hard to pull out of a rejection-filled slump without spiraling into your brain's "inner worry" space (a place that I visit so frequently they should just appoint me Mayor already).

The first step for me in dealing with the awfulness of rejection is admitting it: rejection STINKS. It really truly does, there is no worse feeling than someone dismissing you (oftentimes without reason) after you put your heart and soul into an audition or interview. However, since we are all going to have to face that rejection often in our life, it's important to know how to get yourself out of "rejection" mode, dust yourself off and get back to it. You may be thinking right now, "Okay, we get it Leah, rejection is no party. Now what?"

Well, I say that next you have to let yourself feel. Give yourself just a little time after facing rejection, it's okay to hurt. Or feel disappointed. Don't sweep your emotions under the rug and give yourself no time for a mental check in. This unacknowledged hurt and pain will come back later in the form of jaded bitterness, and we do not want that to characterize our performances. So, let yourself feel. Just for a little bit. It's okay. However, a quick note of caution here: letting yourself feel does NOT mean spiraling deeper into your own worries about yourself and the future. Trust me, I've been there. Too deep in your own mind is not a fun place to be. During this mental check in, remind yourself that this rejection does not define you as a person or as an actor. Maintain your faith that the right part/school/production/etc. will come. Do not quit on yourself.

Now, it's time to do something nice-for you! This doesn't have to present itself in a big or fancy manner (spa days are not really in my budget at the moment), just anything that makes you feel rejuvenated or inspired. Here are some of my favorite recommendations: reading an actor's memoir, listening to your favorite song, quick positivity meditation, watching an episode of a feel-good sitcom, random acts of kindness (they make both the giver and receiver feel better), treating your body well (ex. face mask, going for a walk). This moment for yourself is just that- a moment. You don't have to take the day or week off, don't let this rejection derail your spirit! As long as you make a mindful decision to show yourself a little extra kindness, you are already on your way to bouncing back.

Once you're feeling a little more inspired, relaxed or both- it's time to readjust your mindset. I know, I know. This is SO much easier said than done. I like to take a moment and repeat my favorite refocusing mantras: "I've been knocked down before and I can get up again, this is part of the road to success, this too shall pass, you are stronger than you think," etc. Then I take a few, final deep breaths and get back to work.

This is not a foolproof method, nor does it work every single time. Feel free to add any of your own parts to this healing process or do something else different entirely. What's important is that you do something, anything to readjust your mindset and eventually continue working. If we stopped every time we got knocked down, we'd never get off the ground and get anything done. We actors may be sensitive, but we are also strong. Slump periods will pass. We will not be knocked down forever. Rejection is the worst, no matter how old or experienced you are. But I know that we can all handle it and come back even stronger.

I hope that this article helped a little bit in dealing with rejection, which can now manifest itself in new (and virtual) forms now that we're all submitting electronically and living remotely. Remember that it's okay to talk with your loved ones and mentors about the feelings accompanying rejection- they have probably been there and will always have your back!! They also may be able to offer additional advice to get you through.

If you have any questions (or any content you want to see in upcoming articles)- PLEASE reach out!! My inbox is always open for readers and new theatre-loving friends (vettegirl17@verizon.net), and I can't wait to hear from you!! Until the next article, stay happy and healthy- and keep creating!! The world needs us theatre students-

Love,

Leah


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