OK, so here’s the thing about rejection. We all get rejected and some rejections are worse than others. We get picked last for the volleyball team in phys. ed. Big deal, since we could care less about sports, but we feel the sting anyway.
We don’t get picked for the lead in the school play. Bigger deal, but we understand that there were other kids with more experience.
A boy or girl you like asks someone else to the Prom. Bigger deal still, since you had dated and you had every reason to think it was working out.
You are the experienced kid who everyone thought was a shoe-in for the lead in the high school play, but you ended up in the chorus. You are devastated. Bigger and bigger is this deal, and more painful the sting.
The love of your life leaves you. Biggest deal yet. You are heartbroken. Recovery time is gonna be long and painful. It is way past a mere sting.
Your agent no longer wants to represent you. Devastating, like falling off a cliff. And while you are in free-fall, you here those damned voices again, your Furies forcing you to agonize over all sorts of awful things. What did I do wrong? What is it about me? Am I not talented at all? Will I never have a career in theatre? Will I really have to get a full time job in some stuffy office where I’ll never be able to laugh or cry or be at all real?
Well, yeah. Sometimes life sucks. But here’s the thing I promised that could make it easier: WE ALL DEAL WITH REJECTION. If we didn’t experience rejection, we wouldn’t know the joy of being picked.
The other thing is: Don’t look around for something or someone to blame. Blame has nothing to do with it. Blame only keeps the downward spiral going and you and those damned Furies hounding you into the bowels of Hell!
So what do you do now?
You hurt. You experience the hurt, but without blaming yourself or your agent. Your agent needs to make a living and you, by not landing any audition he sent you to, are not helping his career.
The other side of that is, you need to make a living and by not landing any audition he sent you to, you got to see that maybe he isn’t the right agent for you.
So what do you do now?
Allow yourself to feel as bad as you can. That’s right. Scrunch up your eyes, make fists, and bring up all those bad feelings. Got it? How long can you keep your focus on that bad black hole? Not long.
It is too hard to keep that level of intensity going. All you can keep going is to make up stuff, letting your Furies think all sorts of made-up thoughts about the incident. These Furies would like to keep you thinking all sorts of things–true and not true–about the rejection, anything to keep it going, and sure enough, you can conjure up even more terrible feelings just by thinking more terrible thoughts.
- Take a deep breath. Take another. Dismiss the very next Furies thought and clear your mind of everything.
- Next, take this rejection and see what you can do with it. Look at it to understand how it wasn’t working.
You can only move on when you recognize this is a crossroads, and that there is no going back to business as usual. You need to do some things differently. Your job is to find out what you can tweak or change outright. For instance, if you were going on auditions for cute-young-thing parts and you were showing up with torn tee-shirts or bad makeup, try dressing for the part you are trying out for.
Maybe the material you are working with (scripts, monologues, special acting/workshop appearances) isn’t right for you. See if someone you trust can give you an honest assessment and change the material.
Maybe if you get who you are and what you are going for, you will realize the agent you had was not right for your goals. Find one who is. Do your research. Ask around.
Maybe this rejection is telling you what you have already glimpsed about yourself, deep down away from the blinding light of reason. Now is the time to bring it up. Should you be working in regional theatre instead of trying for a Broadway role? Do you need more acting classes?
Maybe you should consider that acting isn’t right for you and that you could, with a little more experience and education, be a stage manager and then aim for directing? Maybe your talent and interest really lay in design?
This is your golden opportunity to find other ways of breaking in. Talk to people who have done it. Read Martha Beck’s Finding your own North Star. Get a new direction to go in.
Oh, yeah. And wipe those tears. They are clouding your vision.