As an ‘artist’ it is about time I acquainted myself with the art of rejection… or more precisely the art of taking rejection.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lived some charmed life where rejection has been but an alien concept until now; the ‘now’ being the time I decided to make my way as a full time ‘artist’ [I really should stop using those half arsed quotations marks but I’m sure you’ll forgive me during this period of transition: I am in the process of transitioning from idolising artists to recognising myself as one who might one day inspire, as others have inspired me. For now though, I am still earning the title]. No indeed, dear reader, I have experienced my fair share of rejection.
Exhibit A: The drunk actor who copped off with an equally drunken me. Dragging me halfway across London after an award ceremony only to abandon me at Holborn station. When I say abandon… I mean literally… one minute kissing me, next he disappeared leaving me stood, drunkenly swaying (eyes still closed), at the bottom of the station escalator. Just vanished.
Exhibit B: Auditioning for Dorothy in The Wiz (yes, to all of the correct questions you are asking yourself having read that opening gambit: yes, I was naive. Yes, I grew up in factory town that was as diverse as a packet of milky buttons. And yes, the youth theatre I was auditioning at had absolutely no concept of cultural appropriation – years later they would perform Miss Saigon…). I had all the bravado of your average teen, and a broken toe. I was cast as Aunt Em and a Winkie.
Exhibit C: The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama… all those auditioning for drama school, when you are asked the question: “Why have you chosen name of drama school?” by the auditioning panel never answer “the picture in the brochure”. This in addition to needing a prompt during your monologue can only lead to rejection.
Exhibit D: My biological father. I’ll let your imaginations fill in the rest of that story and save us all the pitifulness of the truth.
I could go on. I won’t… for now.
For now, the difference is the regularity of the rejection. In the last 6 months I have been rejected by numerous (too numerous to apply a figure without looking like a desperate fool) scholarship bodies, bursaries, creative roles and productions. Most recent of all came two festival rejections with hours of each other.
The temptation to respond with “WELL, SCREW YOU TOO!” was tempting but ultimately as foolish as trying to apply an accurate figure to the number of rejections. And so, the art of taking rejection begins…
I figure it is like the five steps of grief, but with a lower body count:
- Denial: Maybe they got it wrong? They are mistaking my email address for someone they actually wanted to reject, and will soon realise their mistake.
- Anger: No, they got the right email address. How dare they judge me without even meeting me? Who made them ‘god’? Dicks.
- Bargaining: I could reply and tell them about my poor working class upbringing, about the ‘pyjama kids’ on our estate. I could pretend to be a lesbian from no determinate ethnic background. I can be whatever they need me to be. I can tick boxes for them!*
- Depression: I am the crappest crap on the craptastic sole of a crap shoe from crapsville.
- Acceptance: I will do better next time. There will be a next time. Email reply: “Thank you for your time and consideration.” Send.
And so, the cycle continues with me keeping my head above the water using my very best doggy-paddle to do so.
As I continue to train at a school that I worked REALLY damn hard to get into; as I continue to work REALLY bloody hard to get top grades; as I absorb all the REALLY amazing tricks and tips from epic artists; through all of this and more, I will get REALLY good at not only being the ‘artist’ I am, but also at the art of taking rejection. The ‘doggy-paddle’ will become a majestic Butterfly Stroke or hard ass Front Crawl. Because one day a rejection will be a… jection… or whatever the opposite of rejection is: acceptance?
*Truth being that the boxes I tick are distinctly average, I might as well be a Bridget Fonda movie.