Pardon the interruption, but I have some thoughts that you might relate to.
In the past few weeks I’ve been working with some very creative people in an effort to help them accomplish some of their big goals. It’s really the first time since I graduated from music school in 2007 that I’ve stepped outside of the business world to work with the creatives I’m so passionate about. Sure, I’ve interviewed artists and been to a million shows, but that is vastly different than being part of their day to day process.
Mostly, it has reminded me that the creative person I once thought I was is still there. There are little bits and pieces of that personality that hide behind this idea of opinionated observation – being separate from the art itself. I’ve never been more thankful for these weeks if only because they’ve made me feel apart of a community I had long since walked away from. Not to mention, realize that the way I handle things has a lot to do with that orphaned creative child inside me.
Mostly I’ve learned a lot about rejection. In the past few weeks I’ve been rejected more times than I can count on one hand; from jobs, from media, from credentials. What hit me hardest was actually how much it impacted my spirit. There was one particular moment where it honestly felt like it had been broken. It seemed wholly over-dramatic even as I was on the phone with my mom crying about feeling like I needed to just give up. Not the picture of strength and the entrepreneurial mind I’ve come to demand of myself. The idea that if this is not meant for me, something else is, and probably something better – well, you can sing that to yourself all day but it doesn’t mean that rejection doesn’t sting.
In sitting down with a wonderfully artistic author I’ve been working with and discussing rejection, I came to realize the damaging effect it can have on anyone, not just me. I also realized, it’s not a weakness to let those rejections crawl inside you and whisper all those negative thoughts, but it is something you have to stand up and fight against. In the face of so many no’s, it can become impossible to envision a yes. It’s amplified when you’re chasing after something you are so passionate about – releasing a book, making a record, getting a song placed, or in my case, finding a job that fits where I want to be in this crazy world.
It made it so I didn’t want to write. I didn’t even really want to listen to music or even entertain the idea of going to a show. Then I remembered, one time a million years ago I let a really horrible man I’d worked with for a year turn me off of working anywhere close to the music industry. I left that job feeling utterly destroyed, fled to New York, and started working at an advertising company. I left music behind, both as a performer and as an industry, and giving it up never made me feel fulfilled, it just made me uncertain and a little lost. If you let the power of rejection stop you from finding your creative muse or believing in yourself, you’re doing your soul and the creative world a huge disservice. Think of the beautiful creations we have probably missed out on because someone gave up – doesn’t that make you sad? Giving up doesn’t guarantee you won’t be hurt or rejected again – trust me, in my life there have been many rejections even outside of the music business. It doesn’t make you feel better about not pursuing your art and the things that excite you. What it does is make you feel defeated, lost, and in a position to have to figure it all out again.
And I can tell you, if the creative spirit is in you, it is in you. You’re not going to shake that bitch off. So, just as I’ve been telling myself – stand up, dust it off, and get lost in the things that bring you joy. There will be a million more rejections, but it only takes one person to see the beauty in who you are and what you’re doing for them to say yes.
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
– Henry David Thoreau
P.S. Thank you to Elizabeth Gilbert for being a cheerleader for the creative with her amazing book, Big Magic. It took a quick read of one of her chapters to realize I was maybe being too dark and twisty for my own good.