It was 2002, and I was in Hollywood at Paramount Pictures, ready to read for a new sitcom on NBC. My marriage was on the rocks. I had been flown out by my agents on their dime and set up in a hotel on Sunset Boulevard. I lived with my great aunt for six weeks shortly after, drove the 2.5 hours to LA as often as I needed, committed to landing this role and any other acting jobs I could snap up that summer. I took the infamous improv Groundlings class and was shuttled into the remedial comedy sector, which I find highly amusing now. I snagged a Hollywood agent and things were blossoming for me.
Then I bombed the audition. I played it too Midwestern and even writing that makes me cringe. LOL. But instead of tucking my tail between my legs, I learned about myself.
I liked being a mom more than I liked pursuing fame.
I loved writing more than acting in ridiculous scenarios.
I forgave myself for my nerves and the subsequent rejection of the producer.
No, I’m not famous, but that experience put to rest a quest to want to be more, to be loved for reasons I didn’t understand. I wanted adoration from anywhere, since I sure as shit didn’t subscribe to any form of self-love and I didn’t believe anyone else could love me either.
I wanted validation, attention, to feel like I had found my purpose. I endured finding out the opposite and it has shaped me into who I am now.
I can take rejection. I can turn it around and pluck out the lessons I am supposed to use. Turn here. Follow this path. Unpack this suitcase.
That rejection helped me to succeed in my purpose.
I do what I love to do every single day. Write. Help people share their messages and their missions and I am constantly in the company of the most inspiring and resilient people on the planet.
That rejection was my reboot and it has brought me tremendous fulfillment. I had no idea what would come; I just tried to remain open to incoming knowledge.
So, is failure worse than rejection, in that situation, in any situation?
I realize this is a layered question because failure can come as a result of rejection.
You don’t fail unless you accept failure. Failure means stopping progress; it doesn’t mean changing your plans to achieve the same sought-after, original goal. It means reassessing if the original goal is best for you after all. Sitting in the moment when what you had dreamed about shucks instead of jives. And after all that, deciding to bag it.
Failure is a moment in time when it all comes crashing around you; it is a milestone of ceasing. Rejection is the return serve of your brainstorming, of your pitch, your proposal, your efforts. It is the sound answer that this is not the path for you and the invitation to try again. Think of rejection like a detour sign, that there is a smoother path awaiting you. And when you experience that event, then you receive invaluable information. Even if that information only winds up being the fact of what not to do. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a little insider information.
But rejection hurts because it means you are not heard or taken seriously. As you are letting the “bad” news wash over you it feels like you have been shunned. You might feel foolish and gun shy all at the same time; this is not fertile ground for new ideas to prosper. You must accept the rejection, but in a way that doesn’t cripple you. In a way that benefits you in the future, and even in the present. How can you let the new information change you for the better? My Hollywood rejection answered the questions I had about my career.
I used it to get clear. You can use your rejections, too.
We must remember rejection originates from external forces.
Failure’s roots take hold on the inside.
Failure thrives from the messages we tell ourselves. That we can’t do it. That we are silly, untalented, wasting time. Failure is the brakes applied as you careen through a stop sign. It is the screeching sound of momentum grinding to an immediate halt. And the the aftermath of hopelessness.
Failure occurs because we let it. Because we believe in the nonsensical bullying we dream up in our heads. Because abandoning the dream is safer. Hurts less. Nothing is wagered and so nothing can be lost. Whew! That was close. Right?
Failure is easier to embrace than trying again.
Because we can pepper all sorts of validation over failure. We can bury it in platitudes and excuses not to give it another shot…using different tactics…that might just work.
The road to self-sustained businesses is littered with potholes. And this is a fact you need to absorb and learn to live with like any eventuality. You will not advance down that rutted street if you stay frozen to the pavement, if you listen to your self-limiting voice. If you want to grow, stretch and scale, prepare for your blueprints to be rewritten a few times. Armor up emotionally to get past the vulnerable patches and forge ahead primed to defend the blows.
Maybe we should rehearse receiving rejection.
Maybe we should vow to never fail whenever we can. Because to fail or not is in our control.
If we adopted these mindsets, we could look back on our accelerated progress in awe of our own power and our abilities to evolve to reach our loftiest goals.
I see it happen every day. There’s no reason it can’t happen for you, too.
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