A LITTLE FISH IN A BIG OCEAN: DEALING WITH REJECTION IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
One thing I have struggled with is pursuing what I love when there is little or no encouragement. In the age of social media, we end up relying on other people’s ‘likes’ , ‘shares’ or ‘retweets’ for validation of what we do. No one will tell you you’re anything special because, well, there are thousands of other artists who are just as good or better than you. If you can’t complete a commission someone else will fill your shoes. If you don’t draw or paint or write or compose the world will still continue to turn. People are too busy to give you feedback; you could be very good at what you do but you may rarely be told that. You push doors, you ring art directors, you put on exhibitions, you submit manuscripts, send out samples, contact agents and spend hours creating. You get a few likes on your Facebook page, a recent blog post goes viral, you sell some prints, you get more followers on twitter and Behance, but does that give you enough validation to continue and to press on through the rejections? You are just a little fish a big ocean. You slowly ease off for a while; take a break. You invest in your 9-5 job. You give up.
And the ocean got a little bit less colourful.
And then another artist somewhere is thinking just the same. He’s had enough of pushing doors: of not being in the right place at the right time. While other writers get their lucky breaks, he’s wondering when his time will come (if at all). He’s an amazing poet, but there are plenty more out there. He’s a mere fish in the big sea. So he gives up.
And slowly the ocean got a little less interesting.
And then a child somewhere is in Drama Class and they tell the teacher that they would like to be an actor someday, and the teacher tells them that they’re unlikely to make a living doing that. After all, she’s been there and tried herself and her dreams were squashed when she had no feedback after several failed auditions. So she gave up.
And the ocean got a little more lifeless.
You are just a little fish in a huge ocean, but imagine if every artist gave up because of it.
Don’t let yourself be swamped by the ocean, but become part of it – let your impact inspire others. Allow your ripples to spread and express something new. See the part you play in the huge expanse and enjoy riding its waves. Along with the storms will come the peaceful waters and the rivers of change.
I guess I want to be part of a world that is full of colour and creation and passion. I do not want to settle for a duller existence just because it is safer. There comes a point where you need to rise above the rejection and the disappointment. You need to be inspired by others, not compete. So keep going and don’t give up, because someone, somewhere, will need to see, hear or read your creations. Imagine if JK Rowling, or Walt Disney had given up at the first rejection. The ocean may be pretty big, but there’s room for you in it.
Now go make a splash.