One of my favorite movies is “Not Another Happy Ending”, about a struggling author who finally gets a contract with a publishing company. Before she gets published, she has a “wall of rejection” which is exactly what it sounds like— a wall covered with rejection letters. Other characters accuse her of worshiping her pain, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with what she did. In fact, in many ways, rejection is an artist’s best friend.
1. You’re in Good Company
I’m not claiming that “we regret to inform you” is some beautiful phrase every artist should love. Rejection is an awful feeling. But you aren’t the only person to experience that phrase and that feeling. Every Shakespeare, Picasso, Beyonce, and Spielberg have had to deal with people not appreciating their work. If you think about it that way, it’s not you or even your work that they’re rejecting. It’s all just a part of the process for every artist.
2. Feeling of Validation
I remember the first time I received a rejection letter—or rather, a rejection email— I couldn't even feel that sad. I thought, "I wrote this. They hated it, but I wrote it. And someone I don't even know read it." That ah-ha moment changed my perspective entirely. After all, what is the definition of fame? Someone you don't know knowing you. The fact that some editor somewhere in cyberspace read MY story gave me a sense of validation as an author, which only encouraged me to write even more!
3. How else Would You Improve?
I have a friend who constantly insults me. It's our thing—banter and teasing, but sometimes she goes too far. But it doesn't bother me because sometimes I need to hear her criticism. Otherwise, I'd never know how I can improve myself. Rejection for an artistic project serves the same purpose. If no one told you your work wasn't good enough to go public, how would you know that you should be better? Think about it this way: the more you get rejected, the harder you try, the more you increase your chance of being successful!
4. It's Going to Feel Even Better when You Make It
After opening rejection email after rejection email, I finally opened the one that didn't contain the editor's "regrets". I couldn't contain my joy. Every rejection you receive amplifies the pride and happiness you will feel when you finally succeed. Just be patient, you'll see!
5. Proves Your Ingenuity
Maybe the world just isn't ready for you and all your you-ness. Your art wouldn't sell, but who cares? That doesn't mean it isn't good! That just means you are thinking differently than everyone else, and your day will come soon.
6. Forces You to Stretch
I won't lie and say everything you produce is exceptional. It isn't, because no one is perfect. Everything you write, draw, or brainstorm isn't too ingenious for the world to handle. Sometimes, you just aren't as good as you could be. Rejection forces you to experiment with new styles as well as refine your current skill set. You'll learn new things about yourself and your talent as a result!
7. It's Your Choice
You know that friend who you absolutely adore, but she has a friend who annoys you to no end? And of course, whenever you make plans, that other friend tags along. Well, rejection is that friend's friend. If you want to enjoy the company of your friend, art, you have to deal with rejection tagging along. So you might as well change your mindset and decide to befriend rejection!
If your inbox or mailbox are overflowing with rejection letters, open them up and hang them on your wall. Be proud of your rejections and how you'll grow as an artist because of them. Then one day, when you get the letter that changes it all, you can be proud of all you went through to get where you are now. Can you think of any other reason why rejection is a good thing?