Rejection, it’s good for the Ego.
“In rejecting the Beatles, 1962: We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Decca Recording Co.
How does one deal with the inevitable rejections that we get along the path of the creative? Well, one of the best ways to deal with rejection is to embrace it. Yes, I said embrace it. Learn to love rejection, failure and disappointments.
Rejection is our friend; it tames the ego, creates drive and ambition, and clears the mind. Rejection is always part of the path, for any endeavor, creative or not. You will encounter it at every turn, even if you are the most creative, most skilled and most passionate person in the world. Rejection is a numbers game. I feel pretty good when I get a rejection notice. Why you ask? Why good and not bad or self-pity? Every single NO is another no on the way to my YES. You have to accept that fact. If you allow yourself to take rejection to heart, you will die, wither on the vine of life and give up. If you fear rejection you will never succeed.
Your ego is not that fragile, your work is important to you and the world. We take rejection because it is part of living; it is part of the equation of life itself. It only matters what you think of yourself, your own work, and your desire to accomplish whatever it is that you are working towards. Never ever, let anyone disrupt the relationship you have with yourself; it is the most important relationship you will ever have in this world.
No matter what we do in this life, there will be someone on the sidelines that is pointing a finger and telling you why it and you are wrong. We must have the courage to face those people with the convictions of self-love and say, my own opinion of myself is much more important than anything else. If we fail, fail with grace and grit. Learn to fail with grace. Become aware of your inner self and motivations. Embrace that you will not always be a winner and rejections and failures cease to be difficult to endure and grow from. It is just another no on the way to your yes.
Rejection keeps you humble, keeps you motivated, keeps you striving. It is not the end of the world, just another disappointment on your path. There will be many disappointments, many bends in the road you will not see around. If you have the courage and conviction of self-love then that is all they are, just potholes to sidestep, lessons to learn, another no for the bone pile of life.
“There are a billion people in China. It’s not easy to be an individual in a crowd of more than a billion people. Think of it. More than a BILLION people. That means even if you’re a one-in-a-million type of guy, there are still a thousand guys exactly like you.”
I want to share a story, my own story. When I started out in the world of art, I started with painting recycled furniture. I did my first work and liked it. I went on to create four more works. At the time, I was sick, out of work, facing my own mortality and penniless. I was painting to keep my mind sane while I dealt with my very possible death.
I wanted to see if my friends were just being kind to me when they told me my newfound passion for art was a latent talent. To me the only way I could find out was to try and sell the work to strangers. So, when the fifth work was done, I loaded my works into the back of my rusted out Volvo station wagon and set out to find a buyer. No plans really, I just started with the phone book and a list of galleries. Never having been to school for art and having no resume for my works I had no idea what I was setting myself up for. I did not know any of the art world rules, that galleries don’t appreciate people just walking in and asking for a showing. I did not know that I was setting myself up for a day of rejection and heartbreak. I did not know what I did not know.
The first three places I stopped at were really mean to me. I almost stopped right then and there. The fourth place I walked into, when they said no, I asked why and what could I do better to get them to say yes. I was lucky, that gallery owner took a moment to tell me I was breaking all the rules in the book. I asked what the rules were, I said thank you and left.
I went into a coffee shop to take a rejection break and sat down. The owner had local art on the walls. It gave me a thought; maybe this is where I should start. I approached the owner and asked for a moment of their time. They were nice folks and stepped outside to my hunk of junk on the corner and peered in. They were not interested in my works either, but they were kind enough to tell me I should try a consignment furniture store that they frequented. I looked the store up and drove across town to see them. I got there filled with hope. They were not interested either, but were kind people and suggested another store for me to try. I drove back across town and tried them. No go, but I did ask for another suggestion from them, I also asked what they looked for in hand painted furniture and home décor. They told me, I wrote it down, said thank you and left.
In this day I am now up to my seventh no. The last store gave me three other stores to try. The first two, they were big fat no’s. Now at nine rejections and counting, I was starting to loose my faith and determination. I almost just went home, but instead I steeled myself for another NO, and drove over to the last lead I had for the day. They were very excited by my work! They took me on right then and there. Five days later they called to tell me that all five of my works had sold and asked for more. My career had begun.
I spent the next two years doing furniture and up-cycled works of all kinds and selling them as fast as I could make them. I also started painting on canvas for the first time. I took my works around to restaurants, frame shops and coffee shops and booked several shows. I started selling my canvas works just as fast. I was off and running.
I then started learning about the world of galleries and self-representation on the web. I started a rejection pile from the galleries and at the same time I started a web site and a blog to sell my works directly. Three years later I got my first gallery acceptance, this is now five years into my working full time as an artist. By that time I had sold over 200 works so I was feeling pretty good about myself. The show was a total flop. The gallery owner suggested that I remain a “hobbyist” painter. I was crushed.
I never let anyone tell me what I am, or what I can do in this life. I plunged ahead and kept trying. Eventually I found some success in the gallery system, but I found that I liked selling directly because of the personal connections I was able to make with my patrons. That was all 11 years ago this year. To date I have sold 557 works worldwide.
If I had let my first 10 rejections infect my self-belief system, I would never have made it at all. Success is self-defined. If you are too afraid to fail, then you will never begin to live your dreams. That’s why I truly believe that Rejection is good for the Soul, Ambition and the Ego. Rejection is the foundation for the great things that come from perseverance and faith in self. Embrace rejection and the world will be yours.
Heather Brown Truman
BAD! Kitty Art Studio