Eventually, no matter what, you will get to a point in your life and be hopelessly under qualified to do whatever you want to do. It’s an unavoidable truth of nature. One day when you graduate you will think, “The world is mine for the oyster picking!” Only to be slapped in the face by the phrase you will come to hate: “three to five years experience required”
Rejection is the world’s way of letting you know that you are only a twenty something hipster, and also that you might need an attitude adjustment because the world really doesn’t like you or the way you style your hair, you douche.
I am not saying you are scum. You just weren’t chosen to do task X, whatever that is. Whether it be first tuba in your local amateur senior centre concert band, to represent Estonia in the Venice Biennale or to marry the twenty-something hipster girl of your dreams. That’s a bitter taste.
The standard reaction to being rejected? To run. To burn bridges and quit. I have many friends from the art world who applied for grants and concluded, “the granting system is broken,” and “they just don’t understand my work”.
I have a lot of friends who have only ever applied to grad school once, and then concluded, “I never wanted to go in the first place.”
That last one was actually me.
Checking out and lying down seems to be how human animals react to adversity.
It can be very disheartening to receive a written statement that people do not like you. You just sort of assume people would have the courtesy not to put that on paper. However, it does not mean that all is lost.
Rejection, no matter what its form, isn’t a sign that you are hopeless or bad at what you do.
Well, you might be bad at what you do, but it’s a necessary system to galvanize you to work harder, learn from your mistakes and move on or quit. Life doesn’t have enough good things in it to give to quitters, so moving on or getting back on that saddle is my recommendation.
To be rejected is to be forced to deal with a very difficult thought. You are not the best choice. We all grew up in a system where they told us we are unique, equal butterflies. While we are unique, we are not all equal. Definitely not butterflies. Some of life is just random horrible chance, and we have to deal with that.
I talked briefly over Facebook chat about rejection with my friend Alec, a local indie game designer. After a brief pause he responded with what I hope was a sincere “lol” and offered this contribution:
“I guess the most horrible rejection [I suffered] was a few years ago when I was 19 or something. I met this girl online, she lived in B.C. and after a year or something I decided to move out there. So I did that for four or five years. And then she dumped me over MSN when I was visiting family back in Winnipeg. Then I moved back. Yay.”
“I think it screwed me up for at least half a year. For me, if I’m not with anyone I feel like I’m worthless because I don’t really have the ability to tell myself I’m awesome like other people maybe do. So without anyone around to confirm that I’m okay, I feel like a waste of space. So having someone dump me in the least considerate way possible, that’s like . . . fuuuuck,” he continued.
“I think the game project I’ve been working on for the last one and a halfish years is based on that. It’s about a marionette who’s getting chased by this giant shadowy guy. The idea of a character who’s trying to break away but is still tied to something is super interesting to me. Shit’s all tied together and you can’t really just ignore parts of it.”
“I think the mature thing is supposed to be that you move on and do your own thing. Show them that you can do shit on your own, or whatever,” said Alec.
“I don’t really feel like doing that after getting kicked in the nuts though. I feel more like just lying down and giving up.”