The Rejection Chronicles
The rejection that started it all
I’m trying to embrace the rejections. So I’m posting about them. I feel like I see all my colleagues and friends posting successes and it’s hard for me to swallow my own failures/losses when it seems as if all the people around me get commissions, fellowships, grants, awards, mentorship... you name it. The thing is, I really needed this grant. I don’t mean like “money would be great” I mean, the project relies on funds to get me a new computer. I’ve had the same computer since freshman year of college and it no longer can support what I want to create. I’m not talking “oh it’s slow” I’m talking, the system crashes. I needed this money to continue with a project already in motion, and seeing it in the flesh (the ink? The computer screen?) felt harder than others.
I’m going to be honest. It’s been a year of rejections. A year of missing opportunities. A year of watching doors open for people around me, but all my doors remain shut tight as ever. A year of scraping together funds to apply for whatever and then having them sucked down the proverbial toilet when they don’t pan out. I don’t feel any less hard when I get a rejection, even after a year of them.
But I have been able to separate myself artistically. I no longer feel like my art is worthless. I no longer feel that I’m no good. I can just hope that maybe next year I learn how to say what those panels want to hear. Or I can write something that piques their interest. Or someone on the panel takes a liking to my odd genre. I don’t think my worth relies on the names on my resume. It relies on the people I connect with every day through my art, through my work, through my existence.
I’m learning to be less serious about this. Maybe next time I get a rejection I’ll laugh instead of mope. ⭐️ cheers to YOU navigating your rejections ⭐️
Why I'm talking about rejections
A year and 6 months ago, I quit my extremely stable but life-sucking job to compose full time. Or, do, something else full time. I wagered that considering the success of the previous year, the commissions, the connections, the opportunities, fellowships, and interest, I was sure I could make my life profitable even if I did not have a stable desk job.
So I quit, and I began freelancing. I spent my newfound freedom applying constantly to fellowships, grants, prizes, residencies. I put myself through the gauntlet. And I'm thrilled to say that a year later my hard work has paid off in a whopping zero successful submissions.
Yep, you read that right. Between the spring of 2018 and the fall of 2019 out of the 45 or so applications I submitted. I got z e r o.
The first couple rejections felt fine. "Ok, I'm new at this," I said, and moved on. It rolled off me like water off a duck's back. But they kept rolling in. I kept seeing doors close instead of seeing doors open. I was told once I dedicated my life fully to composing that the pieces would fall into place. And they just weren't. It was as if I had presented and prostrated myself to the art world, and the art world had left me on read.
So wtf was I to do? Did I waste a whole year? Am I not cut out for this? Do I grovel back to my soul sucking desk job!?! Instead, I sat with it. I kept applying. I knew I would get a fraction of what I applied for...so maybe I just hadn't gone far enough yet.
And still the rejections rolled in. Most rejection emails I just deleted. Some I cried about. Some I complained about. And I found the more and more that I talked about it, the more people came to me and said "Hey! Me too!"
I've been meditating on rejection this whole year. The reality of it and the...dis?reality of it. And the fact of the matter is that every single person in this industry experiences rejection...heartwrenching rejection... e v e r y day. I'm not at all alone in experiencing a year of rejections, in fact, I am in the majority. So fuck it, I'm going to post about them. I am going to share weekly what I am applying to (heyo opportunity and resource sharing and transparency!) and reflect on my rejections and how my attitude changes as I ****lean in***** to rejection.