February 13, 2017

I Get Rejected Almost Daily – Here’s Why That’s A Good Thing

by Corrina Thurston


“No thanks.” (The entirety of a recent rejection I received.)

Rejection is something we shy away from, something I’m not sure if anyone would view as a good thing. You certainly don’t strive to be rejected. And yet, when it comes to owning your own business, especially a creative one, rejection happens all the time.

I get rejected almost daily. Although that may sound discouraging, here’s why that’s a good thing:

Undoing A Lifetime Of Training

Growing up we learn that rejection is something to fear. We hesitate when we ask someone something, because we know rejection could be a result. Who wants to ask someone on a date, or try to sit with a new group of people in school, when you know they could say no? It’s embarrassing and can be downright hurtful at times.

So we train ourselves to try and avoid it.

But should we?

As a creative entrepreneur, an artist, a speaker, and a teacher, I say no. Instead you need to embrace it if you want to get anywhere. If you want to get your artwork into galleries, you’re going to have to send proposals, and you will get rejected. If you want to give speeches, you’ll also need to send proposals, and you’ll also get rejected sometimes. I send proposals to retailers, galleries, gift shops, museums, magazines, newspapers, tv stations, and other places to exhibit. I enter contests and competitions and try to get my artwork or writing published. And I get rejected far more than I get accepted.


What Is Rejection, Really?

Rejection isn’t something you need to fear. Why? Let’s think about the forms of rejection and then come up with our definition.

1.) Social Rejection: This is when you ask someone on a date or you want to sit with a new group at school, or try to be friends with someone, etc., and they say no.

2.) Professional Rejection: This is when you go for an interview for a job, you send a proposal for a gallery show, you ask a retailer if they want to sell your work, etc., and they say no.

These are the two main types of rejection we deal with on a daily basis, and both can be intimidating, humiliating, and hurtful if done in a negative way.


Let’s think about what it means to be rejected, though. You put yourself out there, and someone says no, they don’t like you or your work or they don’t want to represent you.

Initially, that sounds harsh. Our knee-jerk reaction is become defensive and tell them why they’re wrong. That’s because you feel like you’re being attacked.

But what rejection really means is this: What you’re proposing isn’t quite right for that person.

That’s it. That’s what rejection REALLY is. It’s not personal and it’s not really about you. It’s about what that other person is looking for.


What That Means For You

So if rejection means that what you’re proposing just isn’t quite right for that person, what does that mean for you?

First of all, it means you were brave enough to put yourself out there despite this possible outcome, so bravo to you!

Second, it means you can move on knowing it’s not a right fit.

Let’s think about this for professional rejection, as that’s what this post is mostly about. Rejection just means that your work isn’t quite right for that gallery or gift shop or retailer, or that what you have to offer isn’t quite right for that job/company. That’s okay, you’re one step closer to finding the one that is. Cross that gallery off your list and send a proposal to the next one! Your artwork or product or skill set is going to be right for someone, you just have to find them. And in order to find them, you need to keep sending out those proposals or resumes.


How Is This A Good Thing?

Any business is a numbers game, right? The more people who see your art/product/service, the more paying customers you will have. That’s typically how it works. So when I say that I get rejected almost daily, I’m okay with that because it means that I’m putting my work out there in front of more and more people.

I am constantly sending proposals. It’s tedious and can be annoying, but that’s the only way to get my work out in front of the people who need to see it. If I don’t send proposals, I won’t get displays, I won’t be able to teach workshops in galleries, I won’t get my products in retail stores.

So when I get another rejection, I know that I’m at least putting myself out there. Plus, they’re not all rejections. For every 10 rejections or so, I get an acceptance and my hard work starts paying off!

Even A Rejection Can Lead Somewhere

Don’t forget that when you get rejected by anyone, whether it’s a job interview or a gallery, it can still provide you some useful information.

Some rejections come with the reason why, like a recent rejection I received from a gift shop: “Hi Corrina. Your work is very beautiful but we are pretty full at the moment. Best of luck!”

Translation: Their gift shop is already full and they’re not looking for any new vendors at this time. That’s fine! This is obviously one of the nicer rejections I get, since they complimented my artwork. Sometimes it’s not so nice and your immediate reaction is to be defensive, like with this one: “Hi Corine. Unfortunately our gallery doesn’t accept any colored pencil work, as we don’t consider it a fine art medium.”

Hmm, even that one’s not very harsh, but my honest initial reaction to those types of rejections is, “Snooty much??”

HOWEVER, I never get defensive with the person rejecting me. Instead, I ALWAYS send them a thank you note saying that I appreciate their time and if they have any recommendations of where else I should try, (or in the case of the full gift shop, if they have any openings in the future), to please let me know!

And you know what happens? Sometimes nothing. And sometimes that extra little email will get their attention and they’ll send me a lead that they think might have more interest in my work. Or they’ll say, well if you’d done _______ in your proposal, it may have helped, and I learn something for the next time I send a proposal to another gallery. Or they realize that my work may be good for an upcoming group exhibit they’re planning, and they say they’ll add me to the list for future invitations.

Some of my best leads have come from previous rejections!


Now when I get a rejection, like the one that just came in my inbox as I’m writing this blog post, I don’t have any negative reaction to it. All I think is, okay, now how can I learn from this?



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