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How to deal with rejection? (4 minutes read)

rejection feeling

Last night’s call with my mentor was just amazing and he inspired me to write this blog for you about rejection.

So: Are you done for this year? Or do you still have some auditions lined up?
It doesn’t matter, either way, I am sure you know that you could get a rejection email even though you were perfect for the part.
We all deal with rejections in different ways, but let me list here 7 things to do or think about when you are rejected.

You did it!
You might feel like a total failure, but remember one thing: You DID DO IT! You went out there to kick ass. Not everyone has those guts. But you did.
You went and did it!
You prepared your things and got on that stage!
This tells me that you are living your life to the fullest! You are pushing your boundaries.
We can all stay at home in front of the TV and NOT do it.
Not doing it is easy. But doing it? That takes courage.
So I would say: tap yourself on the shoulder for getting out of your comfort zone.

Acknowledge what you feel
We pour our hearts out when we perform, isn’t it? We are super attached to the results of a competition, the review after the première or the outcome of the final round for that dream role.
We work so hard on getting the best possible results that the rejection email can stop time for a moment. Our bubble breaks and we face reality.
Recently I dealt with a big bubble and I couldn’t get out of the sadness. When my best friend said: “It’s not the end of the world.” I almost wanted to punch her in the face, because I felt like it freaking was the end! What did she know?! My world had become very small and turned around that one possible outcome for a while. Noticing this I could step out of the bubble, but also realized that it was good to have acknowledged the sad feelings.
Sadness, disappointment and feeling angry all come naturally to us. We don’t have to hide it.
Let them come. Talk about it and afterward: Let them go.

Rejection doesn’t define you
My mom used to say: “Only one can get it” after I received another rejection email and that this “absolutely doesn’t define who I am.” This is true, but of course, it can still feel like shit!
We tend to blame ourselves when we get rejected.
We feel like we aren’t good enough, we aren’t pretty enough, or thin enough.
Did we crack a bit on that high note? That must mean our high notes suck!
We aren’t confident enough, we aren’t smart enough etc.
But remember that we tell all this to ourselves.
And what we choose to believe we will see in the world. We will find proof of that belief in the world around us. It’s just how our brain works.
Or better, how our brain bodyguard, our RAS (Reticular Activating System) works.
If you amplify the positive, your RAS will look for the positive around you.
But if you talk down on yourself and focus on all the things you can’t have, didn’t get and never will become, you RAS will focus on thát.
See the RAS as that annoying child which keeps repeating after you. (Ever had to take care of a child like that? Quite nerve racking isn’t it?) So this said: –>

Remember your successes!
Because you for sure have some successes to remember. They don’t have to be huge. The small ones also count!
Sometimes we need a hand in remembering what we actually did in the past and that those things were quite something! Especially when we feel down after a rejection it can take some time to come up with them.
There, our trusted friends and family come in. They will remind us of what we are.
Recently I went through a mental challenge during a concert. I was sitting on the stage waiting for my first recit in Händels Messiah as suddenly I thought the conductor, the sweetest one you will ever meet,  was someone else. I thought he was a conductor who treated me very wrong in the past.
My heart started pounding in my chest. So hard, I thought it would jump out of my body. I was tied to my chair and had to calm myself down for 20 minutes. Saying clear and positive one-liners to myself. Later I told my friend and the bass colleague what happened.
“Really?” he said. “You looked so cool easy on that stage, I was actually a bit jealous about that.”
I call it quite a success since I overcame the negative emotions!
Good to know that even when I went to hell and back, no one noticed it.
Our mind is so very powerful. It can make or break us.

Be kind to yourself
We already discussed the downgrading self-talk, so again: It will not serve you and in the long run it can destroy the artist inside you because you RAS is very powerful.
I have a colleague which I see quite often around on different projects. I think he has a beautiful tenor voice. But… he is always talking bad about himself. Always!
He has jobs, he has work. But he is constantly saying that he never gets the jobs he wants.
Well…guess what: He never gets the jobs he wants. Talking like this his RAS will just show him proof that he will NEVER GET THE JOBS HE WANTS.
So really: be kind to yourself, especially after a rejection. Don’t feed your RAS with negative thought in moments that you are very vulnerable. Do something kind for yourself!
From 2010 I started depositing 1 euro in a jar whenever I got rejected after an audition.
In 2016 I bought a beautiful dress from it! HA!

me in the new dress

Be kind to someone else
Good as a little relief for any rejection. Helps also a lot when we are talking about a romantic rejection. Do something nice for someone else and see how it makes you feel. I can totally understand that it might be the LAST thing on your mind. But it is definitely worth a try, trust me on this one!

The lesson
Yes, apparently we have lessons to learn. Every rejection shows you one. It’s up to you if you want to see it.
Now don’t see these “lesson” as your schoolteacher in front of the whiteboard telling you what to believe. I am not talking about those kinds of lessons. I am talking about “realizations”.
You can realize something after every rejection.
Once I took part in a competition. There were 2 categories: Art Song and Opera. Now I was doing mostly Art Song at the time so the choice for that category would have been quite fitting. But in school, the focus was on opera, so I eventually chose the opera category.
When I arrived at the location for the first round I saw a list of 76 singers in the opera category and only 4 art song contestants. Oh My God! What a mistake I made. It was actually quite sad, but I also had to laugh about it. I sang my aria and afterward had some good food in the city.
I learned quite a lesson that day.

In 2014 I did an audition for the role of Papagena and got a rejection phone call. It has been the only audition I cried long painful tears about. I  did  not  understand.
I was actually asked to do the audition. I knew the director and the conductor. I got a lot of time with the panel to talk and sing different things. Also I could show the Pa-pa-pa duet at the fastest speed the panel heard from their contestants and still, I did not get it.
Later an email came along and that made me realize something. See below.
English translation: However your voice was a bit too light in combination with any of the Papageno contestants.
This is something I couldn’t beat. But it made me realize, or actually, it confirmed something which I already knew: I had a light soprano voice.
Yeah, what else is new? Is it bad? No.
It’s just not matching the Papageno’s that auditioned for them.
That doesn’t mean there will never be a Papageno with whom my Papagena fits.

So here they are. If you have just been rejected, I hope you will feel a bit more empowered after reading this. Drop me a comment below. I would appreciate it!

Monteverdi Cycle 2007

9 thoughts on “How to deal with rejection? (4 minutes read)

  1. The most painful rejection I got this year is when I applied for an audition to a German opera house, which needed the performer of Zerbinetta. Zerbinetta is known to be a very complicated role and I’m sure that not that many performers get a chance to sing it. I, on the other hand, have performed this role numerous times with success, the role is fully prepared and regularly practiced and I’m ready to jump in on short notice.
    However, after applying I was not invited to the audition at all! The reason was not given. I cannot know of course but I can’t believe that they received lots of applications from people who have actually sung the role, unless all of their applicants have sung at the Met and Deutsche Oper and I have not, but the painful truth is: the company was not even curious to hear me in an audition. That was discouraging.

    1. I hear you Irina. It’s the worst when we do not get a reason for not being invited. Very dissapointing indeed. I hope you will soon sing Zerbinetta somewhere else!

  2. Thanks so much for this. I really needed it now. I just had an audition and the jury was so unkind to me! And they didn’t take me, so yeah I feel not so good. But thanks for this story. I will check out the other blogs! 🙂

  3. Great Blog! I needed something positive after my recent audition. I like so that you say to remember our previous successes. I also tend to forget them. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your comment! Yes, we do tend to forget about that. It can be so good to remember them and realize your awesomeness! Keep going!

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience. I learnt a lot reading and also re-affirmed some of the other things i have always had in mind. Keep sharing i am definitely reading….

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