The Art Of Rejection
The hardest lesson that life has taught me is how to accept rejection gracefully. As someone who has chosen a career in the performance and literary arts, I’ve been forced to accept rejection like a good friend. Well, maybe not a good friend, but a friend who I occasionally go out with convincing myself that they’re not going to get drunk and throw up in an Ihop again.
My first taste of hard rejection came at 15 when I didn’t get cast as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. My hometown had an amazing community theatre and I was used to getting all the big rolls so yeah, my ego needed a check. I screamed myself hoarse when I found out I didn’t get the part and when my mom tried to console me, I yelled the stereotypical teenage line of “you just don’t get me” and stormed off to my room to listen to Dashboard Confessional for five straight hours.
As kids, any form of rejection can feel like a thousand knives to the heart. Many times I had to be literally carried out of stores because I was throwing a tantrum about not being allowed to get a candy bar. The best parenting skills I’ve ever witnessed was when I worked in Pikes Place Market in Seattle. A child was screaming at his mom for not buying him a toy he wanted. The mom tried to calm him with no avail and when she looked away to talk to the dad, the dad very subtly reached down and flicked the kids ear. He spun around, unsure of the source of the flick, and immediately stopped crying. Genius.
As I’ve gotten older, my acceptance for rejection has been tested time and time again over many different platforms and situations. For example, I was on the dating app Tinder for four years, which is four years too long. Speaking from experience, here’s the likely sequence of events that will happen after you match with someone on Tinder:
-They never respond to your message.
-They respond a couple of times then disappear once you ask to meet up.
-If you do make plans there’s an eighty percent chance that they won’t show up or cancel last second.
-On the rare chance that they actually show, it will most likely be the most painful two hours of your life. The only thing that you know about this person is that according to their profile picture they like hiking.
– On the even rarer occasion that it goes beyond one date, you’ll spend the next three months lying to people about where you met because no one wants to admit that they met on a hookup app.
-After three months, you’ll both realize the only reason reason you’re still together is because neither of you want to face the horrors of Tinder again. Also the only thing you have in common is that one band.
-You break up, go back on Tinder, have another three month relationship, repeat.
After quitting Tinder I met my future wife the natural way. I stole my friends tater tots and gave them to her as a conversation starter, then waited 2 months for her to ask me out.
As I’ve explained before in past posts, I quit my job a few months ago to fully pursue a career in comedy and writing, so rejection has become as common as a morning cup of coffee. Some people try and cheer me up when I experience rejection, which honestly upsets me even more. I guess for me, the last thing I want when I’ve been rejected is a bunch of people feeling sorry for me and trying to cheer me up. I want to experience the rejection, let it upset me, then move on. It’s like the five stages of grief except instead of death, I’m morning slight setbacks.
Jakes five stages of grief:
“Rejection letter from a comedy festival”
Denial: Reads email ten times convinced that instead of saying “we regret to inform you” it actually says “Congrats!”
Anger: I Look over the list of comics who were accepted, watch their YouTube channels in spite, compare how many followers we have and consider leaving a nasty comment on the picture they have with their mom.
Depression: Vows to quit comedy FOR GOOD this time and devote my life to knitting.
Bargaining: Contemplates going to the festival anyways on the chance that I’ll be able to sneak on stage because that’s totally how it works.
Acceptance: Remembers that the comics who got accepted have been working at this way longer than I have and have earned their spot. Then I spend 100 dollars applying to more festivals and wait patiently for more rejection letters.
I can be a jealous, petty person. But these are feelings that I keep to myself and only express when I’m drunk with my cats. Wallowing in rejection for me is the same experience as sadness. We don’t want to feel it, but it reminds us that we’re human and capable of feeling things. Even though I want to go on a tirade online, complain about the bookings I’m not getting and trash talk others, I know no good will come from it and that that feeling of displaced anger will pass soon. I think all these feelings are natural and ok to feel, just as long as they don’t surface in public.
Also fuck you Quinn I totally deserved the part of Romeo over you.