I have never dealt with rejection well. I’ve always aspired to be someone who can just accept negative results and gracefully continue onward. I am just not one of those people. Of course, this makes doing theatre risky for somebody like me and yet I put myself into psychological turmoil regardless.
I cannot say this past week has been easy for me to digest. While I have always thrown away my victories in the face of defeat, I will admit this isn’t particularly healthy for my mental well being and I wouldn’t recommend this thought process to anyone. However, this isn’t the first time I’ve gone through one of these cycles.
Rejection is simply a part of the arts, which is so tragic because everyone involved is so immensely passionate about what they do. Theatre, at least for me, has never been about the recognition or the supposed glamour that comes with it. It has always been about being a part of something bigger than myself and contributing something meaningful to society, from something as small as making an audience member chuckle to having Op-Eds written about your politically thought-provoking performance. Art is so sacred, not only to me as an artist, but even as an audience member. This past week in my Directing I class, a quote was uttered by my professor that struck a particular cord with me: “All great art should make you change your life.”
Art has made many contributions to my life, both positive and negative. It has caused immense moments of self-doubt and low confidence, but it has also given me purpose and a reason to keep doing it. When people say being an artist is not easy, they are not exaggerating by any means. You love something so intensely, yet it’s not up to your sole decisions whether or not you’ll be successful or even allowed to participate. And for a while, those decisions can leave you with a monumental hole, but that hole will sew itself up as you come to terms with art and accept its emotionally tumultuous contract.
It’s funny that I wrote in my last post about how there are small victories within large defeats, hoping people experiencing the same situation as myself would find some comfort in my words. I find myself seeking comfort in that last post probably more than anyone else. I didn’t expect it to become my uplifting mantra during this past week. However, as I read it over and over again, it reminds me that while I’m allowed to be upset for a time and to express my emotions as I choose, I also have to look towards the future and be able to pick myself back up.
Though rejection has never been easy and I don’t believe it ever will be, there is something to be said about how you deal with it. It’s never a welcoming feeling, but it’s important to understand that it’s a part of life, whether you’re involved in the arts or not. As time passes, I’m sure I’ll come to accept rejection as it arrives. It’s something I’ll encounter many times in the future, which is unfortunate but alas, there isn’t a feasible solution to dismantle rejection entirely.
These moments of denial, however, don’t make me regret pursuing art or trying to make a lifestyle out of it. It is difficult to have something you love consistently be out of your control for the majority of your career, but it’s still comforting to know it’s something you can always go back to and reflect upon. It’s an arduous timeline with many peaks and valleys, but being an artist is still one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. It, of course, does not define me, but it has influenced who I have become in a multitude of ways.
Great art has and continues to change my life. Even though the going does get rough, art remains my most spectacular mentor and passion. Plus, a little tough love is good once in awhile.
Time to get up, dust off those yet-to-be-memorized monologues, and keep moving on.