The holiday season is upon us! For performers, it can be a precarious time, as you often receive news of acceptance or rejection from applications and auditions.
That means you could be inundated with social media posts from colleagues boasting about their wins.
Plus, you might have to face family members who may not understand the sometimes crazy business model of your chosen career path (“What do you mean you have to pay them to perform?”).
If things don’t go your way, you might be left feeling down and out.
How can you persevere and stay positive, even when dealing with rejection and failure?
Read on to learn how to bounce back from a failure without letting it crush your confidence.
Change Your Definition of Failure
If something doesn’t go your way, is it really a fail?
This depends on how you perceive the news. Typically, the things that don’t go in our favor are perceived as “bad.”
This can lead to your feeling dread, frustration, anger, depression… because who wants to be bad? No one wants to fail, so when it happens, it’s natural to think that equals a bad thing.
But really, the news you receive — whether to your liking or not — is just information. Even when it’s not what you want to hear, this news can inform you in ways that can be very useful.
Think about it from the perspective of an inventor: can you imagine if an inventor set out to create something new, but would only do so if s/he didn’t fail? Inventing something takes much trial and error, and from each attempt the inventor can assess what went wrong and make adjustments before trying again.
It’s the assessment, assimilation, and further attempt that’s key. If you fail and then you give up, you never discover what you might have improved upon or what you could have done. (Can you imagine if Thomas Edison had given up?? It took him thousands of tries to create his inventions…)
Likewise, if you fail and think of that as bad rather than looking at how you could use that information to your advantage, you’re potentially missing out on some good info.
Repeat After Me: Failure Is Okay
In fact, failure is a wonderful tool with which you can further yourself. Failure creates a challenge to persevere, and if we let it, it can inspire us to better ourselves. This perception allows you to establish a sense of normalization around failure rather than seeing it as a negative.
When you normalize failure — and understand it can yield something positive — the roller coaster of emotions is much less severe, and the need to “bounce back” is experienced at a much lower level.
While experience is great and not all payoffs are financial (it could be a work you really wanted to perform that rarely gets produced, etc.), not all gigs are worthwhile. It’s common for the ego to tell us to take anything and everything, but some consideration for the proposed gig’s usefulness is in order.
Didn’t get accepted? That’s ok, too. Let’s assess why you might not have been chosen: Did you feel like you performed your best? Was the person hired someone who was more experienced, or someone the company had hired before? Are you just not a good match for that organization?
Do some research and analysis and see what you can find out. What can you learn that will enhance your next audition/submission?
The more information you can gather, the more easily you can identify which organizations might be good matches for you. Even when a clear answer isn’t available, you’re bound to discover something useful.
Normalization includes letting go of any feelings of vindictiveness. That person, company, or tragic event caused by the universe doesn’t mean that any of them were out to get you. In fact it’s usually the opposite.
Reward Yourself, No Matter the Outcome
Normalization also includes rewarding yourself for courage and trying something, rather than only being rewarded for acceptance.
Every time you audition/submit for something, you’re putting yourself out there, and that deserves a reward! It doesn’t have to be a big deal — a little time reading your favorite magazine, watching a favorite movie, a little piece of chocolate — something that sends a message to the mind that getting out there is a good thing!
If you only equate rewards with acceptance, it’s easy to become discouraged. After all, the “yes” pile is usually smaller than the “no” pile…
Furthermore, your behavior will help shape how others react to your acceptances and rejections.
When you share news from a place of extreme highs or lows, this can put others in an awkward position, especially if they are fellow musicians.
Your ability to have a positive, productive outlook will keep your friends and family from feeling sorry for you when you don’t get a gig, and they will be able to celebrate without feeling overwhelmed by you when you are accepted for something.
When you normalize your reaction to news (good or bad), the more comfortable everyone is.
Attitude Is Everything
I’ll leave you with something that I said many times as I was beginning my career when I would experience rejection (and still say on occurrence!): “I’m disappointed, but not discouraged.”
Naturally, you’ll be disappointed when something doesn’t result in your favor. But it needn’t stop you or drag you down. So honor your feelings, be grateful for the information, perform an assessment to learn anything you can in order to improve for the next time, and look forward to trying again with your new-found information. With this strategy in place, your bounce will be quick and you’ll be back in no time.
Kristina Driskill (DMA, SEAC) has been involved in the training of performing artists since 1997, first as a voice instructor and for the past decade as a performance technique, mindset, and marketing instructor. She has worked one-on-one in a mentoring capacity with over 1,000 performers and holds a certification in Social Emotional Arts. She writes a weekly blog on her site and gives a free hour of consulting away each week to one of her subscribers. To learn more and check out her new affordable 1:1 mentoring program, FORWARD, visit kartsconsulting.com.