The Fear of Rejection
When I was growing up, I feared rejection a lot. Fear of failure and rejection, fear of being wrong, of looking silly. This meant I was very determined to stay in my comfort zone and had a lot of trouble getting out of it.
I wouldn't put my hand up in class incase I was wrong, it took a lot of encouragement to try out for sporting squads, if I didn't know the answer to something instead of asking I would go home and figure it out quietly. Later years I covered this fear of failure with excuses ' I didn't want to get into that team anyway', 'It's probably better if I didn't get accepted for that (whatever) I don't have time anyway', and later when this turned into regular anxiety I covered a lot of it with booze.
I think most people have stories of rejection. Probably a hella lot worse then mine but it's this sense of not doing anything out of my comfort zone due to fear of rejection and fear of failure that crippled me in early adulthood. It stops you figuring out what you really like to do, stops you meeting people with the same interests because you just go along with what everyone else likes, fear of being rejected by your peers because you have a different opinion. One good thing that came out of it was an attitude that if I tried my best and still failed than at least I could rest on the fact I tried my best. However, I seemed to only be able to adopt this notion with things I was already good at, like studying, or sport.
When starting my art journey I had come to the realisation that going the mainstream route of becoming a physio and working a 9-5 job didn't make me happy, and that to figure out this happiness stuff I was probably going to have to get out of my comfort zone and possibly fail, and that was hella scary.
Until recently, if I received one rejection email, that would cripple me for weeks. I would loose confidence in what I was doing, I would hide. I had built this cocoon of comfort since leaving high school, and quitting my job to go into the absolutely unknown and into a world I had no training in was extremely scary. I would binge watch television instead of putting myself out there. I had a full 6 months of no working, living off my savings, and while I learnt a lot during that time, I could have learnt a lot more if I was more confident in my own skin and could cope with a little rejection.
I have hidden in my bedroom before and made my boyfriend answer the door to deliver commission paintings to clients, because I could not cope with the idea of them not liking the piece. I would (and still do on occasion) drink myself to smithereens, often because I was uncomfortable in the social situation and therefore used alcohol to mask my self confidence and avoid social rejection.
In any business world they will say failure and rejection is a MUST because then you can learn and improve. I agree. I get it. But it's not easy.
I think that to do this you need to be able to be vulnerable, which does not come naturally to me. Something else I always do is cry. When I'm happy, sad, embarrassed, scared, overwhelmed, shocked, angry. You name it, my tear ducts will respond in heavy flow. This often makes people uncomfortable, and me uncomfortable, and for that reason I keep a nice firm barrier up between myself and these emotions to save everyone the uncomfortableness. (I might write another blog post on this crying thing, I'd like to make a crying revolution, make it a cool thing, like that it shows bravery or something, so schmucks like me don't have to become a robot to get through life...).
But I am getting better at being vulnerable, putting my self out there and getting rejected. I play a game with my partner that when I get a rejection email we cheer and clap and woohooo and celebrate. Trying to change my psyche about it being a bad thing....
They say you need to try 100 times before you'll get a big success, whether thats 100 emails or 100 flyers or 100 events or whatever. Be rejected 99 times and then you'll get somewhere (at the very least you've probably learnt some things along the way). Hopefully, its a lot less than this but I think if you use this logic then you won't feel so bad about being rejected. Like yay thats the 66th rejection, only 44 more to go wooo!
So, moral of this rambling is that rejection is normal, failure is a must. You must failure in order to succeed so better start now. The first time you do anything you ain't gonna be the best at it, so you may as well start now, before you think you're 'ready', give it a shot, fail, give it another shot and see what happens. The sooner you learn to negotiate failure, the sooner your goals will be reached, in your life, job, relationship, whatever. Learn from my mistakes and take failure head on. You can do it, weeeow!
Below is my failed attempts at self portraits lol they do improve.....