5 Tips for Dealing with Rejection
Cry a little, have your hissy fit, it’s ok to be upset! It is disappointing to get the rejection letter and as a professional artist, you will receive many of them. Some might feel like it takes a toll on you and steals a little of your soul, but for many, it feeds the fire and drives the grit.
The Call For Entry
You spend loads of time putting together the submission, review the criteria, craft the write-ups, get the best photos to create the best possible impression. You feel great “I’ve got this, they would be crazy not to accept me”. Then you wait, checking your inbox daily and finally, the email finally comes in. Maybe you wait a few minutes to open it, if you don’t open it, you don’t have to be disappointed right? It usually comes in a formulaic way. The introduction “we are absolutely thrilled that you applied to, we certainly appreciate the time and effort...”
Sadly, we totally know what comes next: “Unfortunately, we were not able to, reject, unsuccessful…” And the attempt at softening the blow: “Please understand, more applications than, the decision does not reflect you, we hope you’ll continue to follow…” Does that sound like a break up to anyone else? It’s not you, it’s me, let’s stay friends??? I’ve had my share of these rejections and I dread getting them too.
You feel like – if they had just looked seriously at your application, or maybe you blame the committee, someone on the panel has something personal against you, maybe you decide you were better off not doing it anyway. We tell ourselves all kinds of things to not feel like it was our own fault or a reflection of ourselves and our art. I’ve received many of these over the years, one as recently as last week, they are disheartening, to say the least. But I have the determination to carry on and it just makes me more convicted to stick with it, I won’t let it stop me.
There are many things we can do with a rejection letter (sadly with email – no burning the letters anymore!) Here is my list of the top 5 things I do after being rejected, maybe some will help you get through your own disappointment.
Here’s where you have permission to be upset.
Take a moment to be annoyed, blame, curse, maybe even cry a little. But that’s it. Move on to the next step and don’t linger here very long, it serves no one.
File the email
Don’t keep looking at it. It will say the same thing no matter how many time you go back to it. File it or delete it. It’s not going to do anything else for you.
Re-read your application
With the knowledge of not being accepted, it can help you to look critically at your own submission. This is not to berate yourself, this is to look objectively at what you accomplished in the application. This was no small feat to put this together. You spent time researching, designing and creating the product. Perhaps you did something for the first time like an intro video, uploading to a cloud drive, opening a social media account, finally getting good photos together, writing an artist statement. These are amazing things that you would never have done if you had not taken the leap to apply in the first place and they will help you move forward to the next thing.
Give yourself some credit.
It took guts to put yourself out there. It took courage, confidence, talent and grit. You were one of only thousands or hundreds, you put the time in, you believed in yourself enough to try. That is an amazing thing.
Look for the next call for entry
gallery or show. I’m serious, the more you do this the better you will get at it and eventually, you will get the acceptance letter. For every 20 rejections, you may get one acceptance. Depending on what you are applying for, you may see many more rejections than that. The most successful authors, artists, poets and craftspeople have seen many, many rejections.
If you believe in your work and you are authentic in your vision, you will eventually get there. Talent is part of it, determination, hard work and perseverance are the rest. The journey has many steps and each one leads you to your destination. Some are just a little harder to climb than others, if you really want it, you will keep going, your grit will keep you striving for more.