Rejection is probably one of the most common fears known to human beings. However, fear of rejection in the context of the creative individual appears to be something much more difficult to resolve because of its strong ties to the creative’s core. Successful creative projects require a vast emotional investment, a willingness to be seen beyond the shallow surface, and the courage to do it all.
Most people know how it feels to be rejected while looking for a job or in social situations but for the creative person, rejection cuts on an entirely different level. Everything that creative person is and feels at the moment he/she creates is recorded and transferred onto the piece they are creating (whether a painting, a music composition or a research project). In this context, rejection is experienced in and around the deepest part of one’s core, that vulnerable part of you that took the risks, embraced the unknown, and allowed himself/herself to be seen without censure. The artist becomes the piece and whatever reaction that piece receives becomes–sometimes without question- transferred and internalized by the creative person.
Rejection ties in with feelings of insecurity that run much deeper than the eye allows; it is closely related to deep complexes about ourselves and fears of being denied or discarded because we’re not good enough.
In terms of rejection it’s the ego that gets bruised though; that part of you that feels entitled to a positive reaction, just because and the part that ignores the universal lesson that in creativity there are no guarantees. The ego is the part of you that seeks praises rather than constructive criticism; the one that sets up perfectionist expectations and when unmet, makes you feel like you’re broken or creatively stuck each time someone doesn’t like your work.
The creative that seeks feedback and applies it for improvement is the one most likely to feel the sting of rejection on a much smaller scale than those who don’t. In fact, some studies found that rejection increases creativity output and levels (read helps you perform better) if you take the time to listen to the message it comes with.
The truth is that rejection comes with the creative territory. It is unavoidable and you have to find the best way for yourself to work through it and make sense of. You are the one that gets to decide where your work ends and where you begin and how much you choose to take in from each attempt you make. It is common to fear creating such a boundary and a great myth that there shouldn’t be any; the part of you that creates, is probably the least stagnant part of everything that makes you, you. It may be enough in that moment, but creativity is about insight, growth, and evolution. Rejection is an opportunity to always become and to get better, when you allow it.
Photo credit: goRillA-ink