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Rejection Sucks


Child's hand reaching for a horse on a farm
"Innocently Reaching"

Over the past year, I started submitting my images to juried exhibitions, grants, and awards. It's been quite a grueling process. Writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, project statements, artist bios, and resumes. Looking at your image and writing the message you are trying to convey but never having the "right" words. I'll be honest perfection kept me stagnant for 6 months. Wanting to apply, then missing the deadline. But one day a lightbulb went off and I told myself submit the work the way it is no matter what, because if I don't I'll never know what could have been.


I've been honored and grateful for the acceptances so far. What I haven't mentioned is the rejections. "We appreciate you applying, your project was not chosen." "We have selected another project for the award. We wish you continued success in the pursuit of your personal project."


Each time I received a rejection, I felt shame. My mind said, "You're not THAT good. You should stop submitting work to shows." As I researched new grants and shows to apply to, I'd look at previous winners of awards and compare my work, writing off many applications believing my work wasn't good enough. I didn't speak of these rejections or feelings of shame, and they stayed with me, growing deeper and deeper in my mind till I was no longer creating art. It felt like I was sucked into this dark vortex of lies unable to breathe.


When I looked at this image of a child innocently reaching, not giving up, I realized rejection is apart of life and growth. If I view rejection, not as failure but as an inch towards reaching that horse or a step in the evolution of a project, my view of rejection changes. By acknowledging my shame, it is instantly weakened and I remember the truth. Rejection is helping me be more resilient. Showing up after a rejection makes me stronger, defines, and molds my creative journey.