Welcome to the Rejection Zone! It’s terrible to be in it, but congratulate yourself for having the talent to make it this far. Your presence means you’re actually competing with a lot of equally talented people for a few coveted positions.
While nothing reduces the pain of rejection, you can manage it if you develop a plan for moving on when you are rejected. Accept that unless you have become a superstar, rejection is an inevitable part of the creative life. So here are some suggestions for coping with it.
Set a limited time to rage, pout, explode, etc., and then set the rejection aside. Do NOT let it destroy your self-confidence. Seek feedback to see if doing something different would have changed the results, but even if you did nothing wrong, too many equally talented people were trying for the same gig.
If you’ve reached your tolerance limit for rejection, seek other options.
Explore alternate paths within your field to find a career you’ll love. Maybe you’ll write songs instead of filling stadiums like Garth Brooks or get into producing instead of performing. Brainstorm with friends about career paths, and then ask people in fields you are exploring how to get started. Make a new plan.
If you aren’t willing to face constant rejections for years on end, get on with your life. I have a young cousin who graduated from a theater college that boasted of its alums on Broadway, but after two years in New York, she had only managed to get bit parts in a couple of commercials and a cameo appearance in a soap opera episode.
She abandoned acting for nursing and married the bar owner for whom she worked while going to those futile auditions. Today they have two small sons, and she loves working as a nurse practitioner for a plastic surgeon.
Whatever you do, don’t wallow in the pain of rejection. Tell yourself, “Game over, new game.” You’ll succeed in SOMETHING. If you’re religious, remember that when God closes a door, He opens a window.
Got a question or topic on creativity you would like Dr. Wirth to address for The Greenhouse Journal? Shoot her an email at EILEENWIRTH@creighton.edu.
Dr. Eileen Wirth is a professor emeritus of journalism at Creighton University and is an author specializing in Omaha history. She was a reporter at the World-Herald and a PR Writer for Union Pacific before joining Creighton in 1991. Eileen’s books include The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Historic Omaha Houses of Worship and From Society Page to Front Page. She is on the board of History Nebraska and a member of the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Women’s Journalism Hall of Fame, and the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame. She also has been active in numerous groups particularly the Omaha Public Library.