Raise your hand if you’ve ever been rejected. ✋
(Both of my hands are up, for the record.)
No matter how talented you are, as an actor, you’re pretty much BFFs with rejection. In fact, working in any creative field, there are plenty of lost jobs, missed funding opportunities, bad ideas and tossed out pitches to go around too.
Last week, I shared ways to develop your resilience to setbacks over the long-term, but today, I want to give you some clear tips to deal with creative rejection in real-time.
Let’s get started!
1) Acknowledge Your Emotions
I heard this great metaphor recently from coach Kristen Carder about how our emotions are sometimes like lemonade in our gas tank. They keep our car (and metaphorically us) from moving forward with our goals. Sure, you could put the car in neutral and push it all the way to where you want to go, but man, would that take a lot of time and energy.
But if you take the time to address your emotions, and get that lemonade out of the tank, you’ll be able to cruise down the highway in no time.
In general, we don’t want to deal with emotions around rejection because they make us uncomfortable. We feel guilty we didn’t work hard enough, or angry if we did and still didn’t get that callback or book that job. We feel shame and fear: “What’s wrong with me? If I can’t get a job, how am I going to pay my bills?”
So we ignore our emotions and hope they’ll go away on their own. (Spoiler: they won’t.) So after a rejection, call up a trusted friend and vent. Put how you’re feeling to paper in your journal, cry it out, or have a high-energy dance party to shake out those negative feelings.
The important step is to remember it’s OK to feel. Once you acknowledge your emotions and not try to hide them, you’ll be able to move on quicker and calmer.
2) Don’t Take It Personally
I know, I know, easier said than done, right? Still, this is an important step in dealing with rejection. All too often we associate our own self worth with the results of our labor, and that is just not accurate.
Plus, there are so many reasons as to why you were turned down, and most of them have nothing to do with you or the creative choices you made in your audition, your proposal or your presentation.
You’re too old / young for the part.
The casting director is going with someone they already know.
The client is changing the direction of the project.
The decision maker is on a cleanse and hates everyone.
Seriously, you cannot know. And just because you received a no, it doesn’t mean it was a “Oh, hell no, you rotten, untalented moron! Begone!” 😅
As Jessica Biel shared with Backstage, “If somebody doesn’t choose you, it’s their loss. You really have to have that attitude about it. I think: I’m fantastic and I’m so important and I’m worth it and the right person will see that and will cast me and will hire me. Don’t let the rejection take you down into a dark hole, because it very easily can do that to you. Having that confidence is important.”
Try these mantras to practice a little self-compassion.
“Just because I didn’t get chosen, it doesn’t lessen my opinion of me.”
“I am worthy.”
“I am smart, talented and have a lot to offer.”
“I can do hard things, and I will make it through this.”
3) Make Adjustments (If Needed)
Rejection isn’t always a bad thing. It can be a chance for you to grow as an artist and improve areas of your craft, confidence or presentation that might need some fine tuning.
Evaluate what adjustments you can make. Did you need more time to prepare? If so, how can you set that up for next time? (And there will be a next time!) Practice your elevator pitch until it comes naturally. Brainstorm possible questions or scenarios that could come up and write yourself a few scripted answers to ease any anxiety.
In other cases, and I think this is especially true with artists, rejection can also mean you’re simply pushing the envelope and taking risks. My mentor Dallas Travers says something along the lines of, “If everyone likes you, you’re not trying hard enough.” You may just be ahead of the curve.
4) Remember That Failure Is A Stepping Stone
“I make more mistakes than anyone else I know, and sooner or later, I patent most of them.”—Thomas A. Edison
Failure is a part of the journey for every single creative person you admire.
Not only is rejection a part of life, it’s a part of success as well. It means you’re trying, you’re going after your goals, and you’re on your way.
What would happen if instead of “no” you see this experience as just a “not yet”?
Antoinette Robertson (Coco in Netflix’s “Dear White People”) offered similar advice to young actors: “Hearing ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘never.’ The only things you can do are to constantly pursue growth as an artist and make sure you’re prepared to walk in the room… When you go about seeking validation from other people and you don’t get it from them, does that mean your well is empty? Perfection is the death of artistry; there are so many beautiful things that can be found in the imperfections of life. If you’re looking for something to be perfect, you might actually miss out on something beautiful.”
5) Keep Going!
Now that you’ve detoxed that rejection from your system, focus your energy on something you love—your creative passion! Dive into a new scene in acting class, an exciting project you’ve been considering or helping the clients that keep you feeling fulfilled.
Remind yourself what a badass you are, regardless of what anyone else thinks, and keep going!
How do you deal with rejection? Is there something I’ve left off this list? Let me know in the comments below or by posting in the Badass Beauty Club on Facebook.
LOVE + compassion!