You are a dedicated student: you set goals, achieve them and work diligently. You think you are the best fit for that summer program, school, college or company. Two weeks later, a letter comes in the mail: "we're sorry to inform you..."
What is going through your head? Does the world come crashing down? Are you sad? Angry? Did you expect it? How in the world are you going to recover?
Here are a few of my tips, tricks and experiences:
Step 1: Cry
Being rejected is awful. You feel inadequate, dejected, unmotivated and you're angry. That's ok. Take time to feel all those emotions. It's an important and healthy to take time to grieve. Find a parent, significant other, grown-up you're fond of, or best friend and talk to them about how you feel. It's all right, you can cry.
Step 2: Smile
Now, its time to set aside your grief for a moment. (Only a moment, don't worry, you can do it!)
You are epic! Did you hear that? You're brilliant. You persevered all year, you are a beautiful dancer and have wonderful technique. You deserved to be in that audition. Even if you weren't accepted, it doesn't take away any of your accomplishments . Nothing can take away all your work and artistry. So hang on to that, remember all the best times, the progress you've made and smile!
Step 3: 1 + 2 = Depth and Maturity
There is a technique in pain management:
You spend a few minutes focusing and acknowledging the pain and then you spend a few minutes thinking about something that doesn't hurt. You travel back and forth, between the two, until you can hold the part that doesn't hurt in the forefront of your mind while still acknowledging the pain.
So take the pride of your diligence and accomplishments and put that in the forefront of your thoughts, but be sure to acknowledge the pain of rejection. It's important that the grief doesn't overwhelm you and it is important not to ignore it.
Step 4: Reality Check
Rejection is normal and, possibly, a positive sign. Michael Jordan, one of the best basketball players ever, was rejected from his JV basketball team -- he was too short.
Don't flatter yourself to think that you are especially awful for being rejected. You're epic. Clearly other epic people, who have succeeded, have gone through similar rejection.
Step 5: Say a prayer
I haven't made a statement on this blog about religion. I'm a Christian, I believe in God. You don't need to agree with my opinions. I intend to treat everyone with the same kindness and respect, whether or not they agree. I believe in God and he definitely carries us through. So say a prayer, God has the best plan in mind. Its difficult to understand his plan, it's frustrating to sit there and not know what's next. So prayerfully and patiently wait for options and ideas to unfold.
Step 6: Take a Vacation
Take a few quiet days. Focus on the bare necessities. Sleep a little more. Eat ice cream. Watch Netflix. Emotionally and physically you've been on a roller-coaster, give yourself time to recuperate.
Step 7: Moving Forward
Now that you've acknowledged and worked through your feelings, prayed and re-cooperated, you can create plans to move forward. Maybe it's searching for a new school, more auditions, talking with your artistic director. By this time your thoughts will be much clearer.
As you move on in your journey as a dancer, remember:
It's not where you end up, its how you end up there. It's not what you do, its how you do it!