November 13, 2013

How to Handle Rejection

If there's one thing you're definitely going to face while pursuing a career in the entertainment industry it's rejection. It may mean not getting a call after an audition, having your demo turned down, getting a form letter after an interview, or just plain being ignored. There's really nothing as good at making you doubt yourself as rejection, but unfortunately it's something that will probably happen more times than you can count (please don't try, it will only make it worse). So, how do you get back on the proverbial horse when you're starting to wonder if maybe your parents were right all along and you should give a more rational career a try?  Well, you can start by telling that voice to shut up and then following these steps.

Take a Moment
Okay, so I was actually going to start this advice with the next tip but I realize it can be hard to think clearly when you want to scream and punch walls and that's not a great way to start anything. So, take a moment to scream, go for a run, vehemently text your friends about the injustice of it all, listen to heavy metal, cry, kick-box, or whatever else you need to do to help you calm down. Once you're feeling less like telling that person who rejected you to go somewhere very hot for eternity it's time for step two.

Ask for Feedback
If at all possible, try to find a way to ask for feedback so you can do your best to turn that no into a learning opportunity. The tips you get back may be stupid and make you feel vindicated (for instance, I once got rejected from a job because I didn't have ads on this website and I knew right away this wasn't the right job for me if they were judging me based on how much money I make from this passion project). On the other hand, you might learn something valuable - like a weird habit you get when you're nervous - that can help in the future. Either way, it can't hurt to ask. That being said, it's important that your attempt to ask for feedback not appear to be attempt to defend yourself or argue. You need to be polite, gracious, and respectful while making it clear that you're asking solely so you glean information to help you improve.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve
It sounds odd to use the word grieve in conjunction with rejection but it really can be serious loss and a hit to your ego, especially if you thought things went well and seemed promising. You don't need to pressure you self to feel alright with it and try to ignore the fact that you're hurt because losing out on a promising opportunity really is painful and can bring on the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Give your self a day or two to work through this and allow yourself time to feel more positive about things.

Once you're feeling better, take an honest look at yourself, your work, and your efforts, ideally in conjunction with the feedback you received, and see if there are things you can do to grow and learn.  Do you need a better demo or practice with your interview questions? Are there new skills you can learn to make yourself stand out next time? Try to be honest without being too critical.

Keep Going
The most important thing to do after getting rejected is to not give up. The Beatles were rejected from numerous record labels and JK Rowling was rejected from countless publishers but it's hard to imagine a world that never knew The Beatles or Harry Potter. Remember why you are pursuing this goal in the first place and use it as motivation to work harder, learn more, and be better. Just don't quit because one person's opinion is just that, an opinion. 
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