Accepting Rejection – what an Oxymoron!

The Cafe Concert, 1878
Image via Wikipedia

The two words acceptance and rejection don’t sound like they belong together in the same sentence, do they? It’s an oxymoron for sure – but as tough as rejection is; by someone we love, from Art Galleries, Music Producers, Book Publishers or wherever it may come from, to be rebuffed has the power to make us stronger.

What? You say… “Never…I’m depleted”, “I’m left totally bewildered”, “I’m obviously not good enough” or “I might as well just give up and find an ordinary job.”

Yes, I understand all these emotions for I have been there also; in love, with my art and my writing – I have experienced disillusionment at it’s very highest.

I’m not talking of issues of the heart in this Blog, (although the same fundamentals do ring true), I am talking more of rejection in our creative endeavors.

We are taught to believe that our work is who we are – and in a way this is true – but our work cannot always appeal to every single person all of the time, and so this doesn’t reflect on the person you are necessarily. Because we feel defined by what we create, we take these rejections to heart – they become very personal; we feel that because our ideas are rejected, we are rejected as a person.

Despite the disappointment at a rejection letter from your Publisher, or an Art Gallery has declined to represent you, or you don’t get the job you applied for or that commission you banked on, etc –  please trust this – if you believe in your work, others will too.

Famous Impressionist Painter, Claude Manet, was rejected from the Salon in Paris and also thought he was useless – he even went so far as to say he had been robbed of the bread from his mouth, so depressed was he.

If you don’t put yourself out there to be seen and possibly rejected, you will never be accepted either. It’s the truth! Learning to accept the negative responses is part of the positive result, for it may serve as a path to improve your work in some instances. Our Ego insists we don’t need to improve and tells us, “what the hell do they know anyway?” Disregard your Ego for a while and look constructively at the criticism given, the reasons for the rejection and take heed. Consider from this what you could do to improve your work – this won’t be time wasted as it could certainly add value to it and could even change your life.

We grow as we learn, and learning to accept rejection is possibly the biggest lesson of all. Don’t let rejection kill your Muse. There are artists who were unpopular in their time but are renowned in ours – not that this helps to put bread on the table for sure, but is inspiring that you should not give up on what you enjoy or want to achieve.

In the word Rejection is another word – Eject – and this is what you should do – eject the personal aspects which hurt you, expel the negativity, throw out the refusal and banish your fears. You ARE worthy, you are talented, you are unique and a rejection – verbal or written – does not mean you are the reject.

I leave you with a quotation from Bob Ragland, “Learn to eat rejection – it will make you stronger.”


2 Replies to “Accepting Rejection – what an Oxymoron!”

  1. I remember when we used to have critiques of our portfolio at Art School, it was very challenging and sometimes down right embarrassing! But grow we did and we realized we had to see our work as others saw it as well. As an artists for over 40 years now I am rather set in my ways and have to once again be open to new ideas and approaches. This is difficult because I don’t like a lot of the modern art and the ugliness of a lot of it. I do want to paint work that resonates with one’s emotions an deepest feelings without descending into contrived “spiritual” art that is farcical to say the least. i think when one is going through a growth spurt and into a new space expect rejection and learn from it

  2. Wise words Maureen! Your sentence “we realized we had to see our work as others saw it as well” is so true and that in particular is something very few of us are able to do – or even register this concept at all!
    I admire you for being open to new ideas despite your 40 years of experience in art, especially when you don’t relate to some of the modern concepts in art. You keep up the good work you’re doing, enjoying the journey! Happy painting!

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