We have all been there. College rejections, job rejections, relationship rejections… you name it and we have all faced it. This is no different in the arts. In fact, I suggest you become friends with rejection because if you really want to make art, there will be loads of rejections all along the way.
I was rejected from every single Ivy League I applied to. I was rejected from multiple art exhibitions, Masters of Art programs, friends, boyfriends… we could all make our own list and commiserate. Or we could all step back and realize those nos led to yeses, which have brought us to where we are today.
If I hadn’t backed out of an Art Institute of Chicago acceptance (which felt a bit like a rejection since I was expected to take an extra year to be on par with the rest of the masters program students), I would not be where I am today.
That led me to a small little charter school on Cape Cod where I realized my love for education. (And made many, many positive lasting memories…I still miss my “kids” from my first years of teaching. Yes, even the ones who threw glue sticks up to see if they could get them to stick to the ceiling… you know who you are). Thank you to Eric for seeing in me a teacher and hiring a young Colgate graduate!
If I had not been rejected repeatedly while teaching on Cape Cod from Masters of Arts programs, I would have never gone to a job fair in Bethesda through Search Associates and found my way to Dubai.
Dubai can be a hugely challenging place. People are always coming and going so lasting friendships and relationships sometimes are put into question. But it is in this place I have met people I love and whom, quite literally, have changed me (most definitely for the better). And it is through these relationships I have found support for my art making.
It reminds me that each time I apply for a show opportunity, it’s all the more special when I am accepted because I have people to share it with. I also have people to talk to when I am not accepted into a show, who help encourage me to continue on.
The arts industry is quite harsh. I make it a competitive game for myself. When I am rejected from a gallery or event, I immediately take that as cause to show them what they are missing! And that is all the easier when you have support systems in place to help remind you of your determination and skill.
What do you do to take care of yourself when you face rejection in your life? So many adults and young ones alike have shared stories with me about the moment their art teacher traumatized them (I have one myself) and made them think they were no good.
Are you holding that fear in the hopes you will avoid rejection?
Because you won’t.
And you haven’t.
Rejection led you to your hiding. And it’s about time you step up and share your creativity with the world. We will all be better for it.
And those rejections along the way? They will help lead you to a place that is rewarding and strengthen your resolve to succeed.
If it is really hard to achieve great things, you need to develop a thick skin to help you along the way. Don’t let a letter from someone you don’t know decide you are no good at writing, painting, dancing (insert your art form here). Take criticism in a positive light, try to get feedback if you can, and seek to be better.
Artist Strong Action: Find ways to positively reinforce moments of rejection. Do you have that go-to person who always makes you smile? Is there a bike ride or walk you take when you need to center yourself? Think of something constructive and positive that gives you time to grieve but also encourages you to use this “no” to get you to your “yeses!”