Rejection. Dealing with it and making it work for you.
by Jo Bolden
When you don’t get picked, don’t get the job or don’t get the moment you wanted – it feels like rejection. Because it IS rejection.
It’s easy to consider not putting yourself out there anymore. But then, there’s this weird thing you feel about dance … and you realise it is something you WANT.
If dance is something you want to pursue, then you need a handle on dealing with the hard moments.
WATCH JO TALK ABOUT REJECTION HERE:
Rejection is painful because sometimes it pushes our ‘not good enough’ button (most creatives have this!). Rejection also deals in disappointment and this is generally something we avoid in life. Added to that we sometimes take it very personally … Ouch!
The reason we might take it personally is because the pursuit of dance requires so much of your person. You’ve probably invested many years, much money and hundreds of hours of training. And it is all worth it because of the foundation you have. More than your body – it also takes your mind, personality, emotion, imagination, energy and drawing on your own real experiences to bring movement to life – all of which are very personal investments in your craft. And all worth it for the light they bring.
However, none of this investment guarantees that you will be a match to what someone is looking for. And you won’t escape the uncomfortable feedback. All of this gets you to the point of being ready to SHOW UP!
What we have to remember is not to take feedback and rejection personally. Because… it’s not a rejection of WHO YOU ARE at your core. It’s a “not now, not this”… a “not yet, not this time”.
Basically, rejection is an invitation to look at where you are and where you want to be.
Resilience is the flip-side muscle we have to develop. You have to be willing to go for it, miss out, let it hurt and let it tell you something of value. When you miss out on an audition, people (& parents) often say “Oh well, it was a learning experience”. But it’s only a learning experience if you bravely make it one. Action is required.
Disappointment gets a bad rap. As much as I don’t like being disappointed either, I’ve come to think of disappointment as a big, flashing, neon sign shouting out that you WANT something (maybe more than you ever realised!).
It’s okay to want something, and important to pay attention to it. If you’re disappointed, then it’s likely you were invested in something that didn’t go your way. This. Is. OK.
Yes, I said disappointment is OK! And it’s going to happen because not every thing you want right now is meant for you or about you right now. That doesn’t mean you should stop wanting, dreaming, investing and aspiring.
After you forgive yourself for missing out, or got cut from the audition, or didn’t get the solo role or placement you had your heart set on – you take note of the fact that you really wanted this and start making notes as to how to KEEP MOVING in that direction.
What isn’t okay is to let disappointment drive blaming, shutting down or anger. Blaming whoever didn’t give you what you wanted, shutting down and giving up dance because today didn’t go your way (Yep. It happens!!) or feeling anger at the dancer who did get what you wanted. These are no reasons to give up.
Keeping it real… These reactions are often easier to accept than hurt or genuine disappointment. Saying you’re hurt, disappointed or feeling like you gave it all and then didn’t feel like enough, makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. Blaming, shutting down and anger happens. Rather than feel ashamed that you’ve possibly done all three (join the club!) – it’s best to just let go of thinking of these as in any way helpful. Because, they’re not!
There are some dancers who seem to be able to shrug it off. Those who miss out, don’t make the callbacks or find their place in the routine in the back line. And they are – OKAY! Actually some go so far as to start making notes on how to KEEP MOVING in the direction of where they want to be straight away!
This is where the beauty is and getting to this place comes naturally for some, but is a muscle to be developed for others. Learning from the tough moments is what it’s all about. This is what we make notes on. It’s where we cultivate the resilience that … wait for it … often leads to our BRILLIANCE.
As I said, when you miss out on an audition people often say ‘Oh well, it was a learning experience’. But it’s only a learning experience if you bravely make it one. ACTION is required.
- Let go of any ‘judginess’ and take a moment to ask and BE REAL with yourself about what you could learn from the audition process. .
- Write it down and COMMIT to working on it (this takes determination and a willingness to face the things you might need to improve on and/or that don’t come easily). Vulnerability is strength here.
- DEBRIEF. Ask a mentor that you trust, who believes in you and will give you a compassionate and honest answer.
- BE KIND to yourself. Take a moment.
- KEEP AIMING. Make a plan. Go to a class that’s outside your comfort zone. Do your research before going to the next audition. Practice and work on the things that don’t come easily to you and avoid complacency!
- DO YOUR RESEARCH. Learn as much about the particular job, company, choreographer as possible before going into an audition. You may need to adjust your technique, style, versatility or audition etiquette.
- EXAMINE THE SUCCESSFUL DANCERS. Look at the dancers who did get the job. Pay attention to what put them in a position to get the job. What could you learn, and how could you be inspired to work on your craft and expand your dance vocabulary and tool kit? Even if it’s their experience and/or their established relationship with a choreographer that seems to have played a part in their success – there’s still something to be learned from the fact that they get re-hired. You can get hired once on talent alone, but your professionalism & the energy will keep you working.
- CONGRATULATE THEM! Honestly & sincerely. This puts you in a good place. It’s gracious. It speaks loudly. It shows a great work and team ethic. It allows you to create community with the dancers around you. It shows you can handle it when it’s not all about you and this is an important skill to have as a professional, working dancer.
Nobody is saying you have to become somebody else to book the job or get the part. Being YOU means owning YOUR strengths and gifts. But, unless you’re only going to audition in your own bathroom for yourself, you need to work out how to BEST INVEST those gifts. Nobody knows everything and there is ALWAYS something to learn. Keep learning …
Back to RESILIENCE and BRILLIANCE and why they’re ‘a thing’. If you ask any acclaimed performer about their journey they will gladly tell you about the high points and the low points. About the times they got the gig and the times where they were rejected and how they didn’t let that define them.
You are so much more than the moments when you aren’t a fit for the part. Don’t get the gig and experience the sting of rejection. It’s in these moments that we learn HOW TO RISE. We grow stronger and figure out how to harness the information that will serve us as we keep moving forward.
Resilience and bouncing back often find us gaining strength, from CHOOSING TO RISE. It asks you to fine-tune your skills, get clearer about what you want and more real about what it takes to get there. You dig deep, dig in and stay focused. Often, that’s right where we uncover our BRILLIANCE.
So, rejection doesn’t have to be your friend but you can absolutely let it be that flashing neon sign and one of your best teachers.