And there it was again. Another email confirming that my work had not been selected for an exhibition. I’ve had quite a few of these this year and honestly, it feels really shit. But here’s how I’ve learned to deal with rejection and why can actually be a positive thing.
Time to look inwards
If you can manage to stay with the initial uncomfortable feelings that a rejection often initiates, you will learn so much about the judgments you hold about yourself and your Art -Am I skilful enough? No one likes my work etc. With the help of people like Byron Katie I have learnt over the years to challenge these believes and ask myself ‘is it true’? Most often than not it is untrue. So we can learn to pay less attention to the thoughts that tell us these untruths, but if your soul searching reveals an uncomfortable truth that perhaps your work is not very skilful, there you have the answer. Become skilful. Take a class, practice, learn from others.
The reality of a rejection often means you are excluded from something. But, if like me you live a busy life and seek out moments of quiet, having one less thing you have to do, attend or be part of can be a relief.
Having taught Art in a secondary school for 25 years means I am well versed in the language of the growth mindset. Challenge, resilience and perseverance are the route to success not innate talent (which I don’t believe exists). We’ve all heard the stories of celebrities who experienced untold reject before reaching success. The bravery and dedication of JK Rowling and Michael Jordan are inspiration to us all that the path to success is not a linear one, nor is it easy, and why should it be? My whole life I have believed that I am not good enough, and whilst this belief fades which every compliment received and every painting purchased, nothing builds that emotional muscle more than knowing I am good enough even if no one turns up to my party (metaphorically of course. This, thankfully has not happened to me yet!) Reframing the view you have of yourself is a lifelong journey but hold untold rewards.
Rejection builds my trust in universe and the sense that it is working for me. When the outcome is not what I expected I have learned to trust that there is a lesson in that experience and all will be ok even if it doesn’t feel so great right now.
I’ve not spent so much time on my personal Art practice recently and this is due parenting futures over the summer and a shift in focus to my teaching practice. I’ve started the school year with enthusiasm and a sense of ownership but this has taken much time and energy, time I’m not in my studio. I am capable of doing so many things, just not on same the day, and I must remind myself of that. Often.
Don’t let rejection stop you from doing what you love.