accepting rejection

I recently looked through the list of drafts I have created on this blog. Some are from years ago and others are more recent. Some I discarded while to others I added thoughts. One draft I came across made me chuckle: accepting rejection.

Artists of all outlets experience the highs and lows of art. This can be a p

That’s all I wrote. I guess I didn’t think finishing the draft was worth it at the time but I guess I can add a few more words.

What I’ve found in my short years of singing professionally is this:

  1.  Clichés are annoying but can be helpful
  2. Although art can bring healing, art is not salvation
  3. Rejection sucks

I’ll probably expound on the first two points in the future, but for now, I’ll explain the third.

Not that it needs explanation, but rejection sucks.

Truly, terribly, sucks.

I’ve grown up in a family that is highly supportive of my performing life. I’ve found that although they are incredibly supportive, it is very difficult to explain the frustrations in a non-performer way. It has been several years and I still find it difficult to put into words.

Because I grew up in an athletic family, sports metaphors are sometimes used to explain my bizarre life to relatives. My dad once explained that my life is like going through the NFL draft, not knowing which team will pick you to play with them or if you’ll even be chosen.

I was surprised with how well this worked to explain auditioning to people but pointed out a few exceptions:

  1. NFL players can make good money early on in their careers
  2. NFL players can expect to stay in one location for longer than a few weeks
  3. NFL players don’t have to go through the draft every year

The third exception is wherein this post lies: rejection.

There are seasons in a singer’s life where rejection comes with such ferocity it seems to cloud any hope. This season is typically audition season when singers parade around to a variety of companies, trying to successfully gain employment for upcoming seasons. Kristina Driskill does a great job of breaking down numbers of some of the most highly sought after young artist programs in her blog on audition season blues.

I think any creative mind can relate to being rejected in a subjective world. A writer faces rejection from publishers, visual artists face rejection from galleries and shows, designers face rejection from employers, and more.

My mom has been in academia with creative individuals for most of my life and we recently had a conversation about singing-world rejections. While she has taught hundreds, if not thousands, of creative individuals to separate themselves from their work and present material for critiques in an objective manner, she identifies that critiquing singing is much more difficult.

There are objective qualities which make one singer stand out against another. One can judge a singer based on the correct pronunciation of text, dramatic presentation, appropriate musical style for the written period, and healthy vocal technique. But when most auditions consist of highly trained and highly qualified individuals, subjectivity is inevitable. And the resulting rejection based on subjective principles doesn’t make it any easier.

So, how do I accept rejection?

With each audition, accepting rejection has grown easier. Thankfully, my husband has been a cheerleader and grounding force in my life to speak truth to me even when I’m doubtful. It is in his whispers and declarations that I have found truth to be the best combatant against the fear and disappointment of rejection.

Practically speaking, one of the most helpful things I do is have perspective on the greater picture. Sometimes I ask myself a variation of, If I never sing again, will I be incomplete?

I know my answer. But at times, the cloud of rejection can hide the truth. It is in those times that I have to intentionally recall truth. I have to remind myself that first and foremost, my identity is a redeemed child of God through Christ. He is the rock to my sinking sand, the firm foundation to my crumbling earth, and the constant to my shifting.

In light of this great and magnificent truth, other fears and disappointments fall rightly in place.

Rejection sucks. But, it doesn’t have to consume my life and for that, I’m grateful.

|Matt. 7:24-27; Ps. 121|

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