The Art of Rejection
"A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success." - Bo Bennett
I’m writing this as I sit on the plane on my way back to Manhattan after a whirlwind trip to LA before moving to NY.
For those of you who might just be getting to know me, I spent ten years in LA pursuing an acting career.
While traveling always shifts my perspective, returning to my old stomping grounds hit home in an entirely different way.
I found myself fortunate enough to check into a swanky hotel with a girlfriend one evening where we were upgraded to a room with a view. I was feeling pretty lucky and high on life as we walked into the plush room that was probably the size of my Manhattan apartment. Excited by this talk of a “view”, we rushed to the floor to ceiling windows to gaze out on the smog-filled city.
Ten floors up, the sight of the city in the distance and Sunset Strip below us was pretty spectacular. When I looked down, I realized we were directly opposite the first serving job I had when I moved to LA 14 years ago.
It was a bit of a trip down memory lane, as I looked at the now empty and out of business space that was once a beacon of hope for me as my pay-the-bills survival job.
Getting a serving job in LA is no small feat. For many Angelino dreamers, it’s what bridges the gap and allows them to stay and pursue their passion, making a good serving job, surprisingly hard to come by.
I remember being shocked when I moved to LA and hit the pavement on a rare rainy day, resume in hand, to find a job. It seemed my college degree, honors, and accolades didn’t mean a thing.
As I trudged down the strip, I was rejected by one jaded manager after another. None of them were interested in another aspiring starlet; they already had their hands full.
I kept going, one door after another, until I convinced a manager to give me a chance by telling him I’d work for free, and he could then either hire me or let me go.
Standing in the hotel room so many years later, I was flooded with a rush of different emotions. So many memories, both good and bad, had gone done for me on the street I was now looking at.
From this vantage point, I was able to have a new perspective of gratitude, surprisingly, for the rejection I had faced time and time again.
It seems that I had been schooled in the art of rejection in LA.
As an actress, rejection is a necessary part of the game. If you aren’t being rejected, you aren’t playing.
Rejection may sound bleak and synonymous with failure, but as someone who was pretty much in the business of being rejected, looking back, I see it in a different light. Mind you, I’m not so sure I saw it that way then. The getting schooled bit included some pretty stormy emotions underneath LA’s perma-sunny skies.
I was rejected that day I looked for a serving job, which caused me to dig in and find my resolve.
I was rejected in relationships that weren’t a fit and forced me to grow, discover more of myself (a term that made me gag and when I heard it at the time of rejection), and learn what I wanted and needed.
I was rejected by agents, who bruised my ego, which prompted me to learn the business and step up my persistence.
I was rejected time and time again before I was ever even able to walk in the room and have the opportunity to audition, testing my dedication and causing me to think outside the box in my approach. And, I was, of course, rejected more times that I can count on those precious, limited auditions I did get, which lead to my learning how to do the work and let go...eventually leading to jobs that fulfilled me and took me on adventures.
Ultimately, I embraced rejection to a degree that I was able to reject a once-dream and city, which created room for a new passion and place to call home.
Each rejection incurred a lesson. I didn’t always want to listen and learn because, so often, the lessons wounded my fragile pride. Many times I had to rinse and repeat. Each rejection, however, was a representation of stepping outside my comfort zone and putting myself out there.
No one bats 100 percent in any walk or area of life. It's cliche, but it's the getting up to bat that counts for so much.
The rejections along the way not only make up our journey but also move us forward. Of course, our ultimate dream is never to be rejected, but I have yet to meet anyone “living the dream” who hasn’t gotten there without many rejections along the way.
Rejection clears the space and makes room for something else.
Rejection removes the misfits from our life.
Rejection illuminates our weaknesses and shows us where we need to study, train, and grow.
Rejection tests and strengthens our resolve, determination, and grit.
Rejection asks us if we really, really want it. And, then it asks us again.
Rejection weeds out the posers and wannabes.
Rejection is a tough-love interrupter and teacher in our life.
Rejection asks us to accept ourselves and where we’re at.
Rejection creates a foundation for success.
To build the lives we want and dream of, we have to be willing to risk rejection. By opening ourselves up to the possibility of rejection, we also open ourselves up to an entirely different life, one that isn’t possible when we hide in the shadows and fear of rejection.
Back in Manhattan, what feels like a lifetime and a world away from my time in LA, I’m grateful for the rejection that’s brought me here, made me more of who I am, and continues to point me to new experiences.
While I will always keep my eye on the prize, I’m reminded to test my limits and welcome rejection because, without it, I remain stagnant.
Where can you open yourself up to rejection and another realm in your life?