Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On Rejection

One thing I think is very important and something I try to keep in the back of my mind as an artist is to expect rejection. Knowing that it will happen. No one has reached a successful point in their lives without having been turned down for an opportunity that they wanted more than anything. Nobody has gone through life without hearing "no." Rejection happens and it SUCKS. It happened to me today.

I had applied for an amazing studio residency that would have been a great push for me, something I was fairly sure I had a good shot to earn. I eagerly awaited the notification date and when it came, I kept my eyes glued to my inbox, refreshing it constantly. I forced myself to calm down, stop being spazzy, what happens happens, etc.

When the email came, I took a deep breath and set myself up for however I would react. I knew as soon as I opened it that it would not be the news I wanted to hear. After skimming this generic rejection letter about three times, pausing on the word, "Unfortunately," it was like going through the five stages of grief. Rejection (and being sad in general) certainly makes me dramatic. I sat back in my chair, felt my eyes prickling, ready to cry, and I seriously decided to give up making art.

I am laughing now at this reaction, but man it was real enough to me at the time. I had it all figured out. I was going to toss my paintings, turn my sad little "home studio" into a proper guest room, give all my art supplies away and just forget about it. Writing this makes me feel pretty embarrassed, but it's what happened. I came home and wallowed, feeling sorry for myself. Just from one little rejection. It seems so silly now!

I know I've been more fortunate than many. There have been wonderful compliments, sales, and opportunities I've admittedly taken for granted. I don't want to be like that any more.

I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this post, but I guess I just wanted to put it out there that you're not alone. As artists, we go through some tough stuff. It is so hard to put yourself out there, to make the work you want to make and stay consistent. It's hard to feel like you're not only making something visually appealing but to also make a statement that means something to you. Rejection is really, really hard. But it happens. To everyone.

And in a funny way, being turned down for this opportunity has made me feel even more motivated. I'm ready to keep going, and harder.

If you've read this post up to now, I thank you. Writing about this experience was some kind of therapy for me (because rejection also makes me self-centered), but I hope it also helped you in some way. I want to show that its okay to have things not go your way and it's okay to feel like quitting. Just take a deep breath and make good art. You will kick ass another day.

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