Rejection and identity crisis

I’ve been thoroughly sick of my computer this past week. I’ve been avoiding it, having a break. Dealing with things.

About a month ago I applied to be an artist at a gallery. I’ve been selling paintings at this gallery and felt the time was right to be represented by them. Last week I came back from a very rainy but happy run to find that I’d been rejected. Worse than that, the email was confusing and vague, full of contradictions and fluff. So while I was selling well (and giving a fair cut to the gallery) I wasn’t ‘developed’ enough. Basically, we’ll have your paintings and your money but you’re not good enough.

I was devastated. I spent the whole day crying and for a whole day my eyes were red. It was like the depression only there was something real and hard and concrete upsetting me. I could tell myself it was just feelings but the feelings were too much. I woke up in the middle of the night and the feeling of despair was so overwhelming I couldn’t close my eyes again. So many thoughts, so many feelings were bombing around my head: If I’m not an artist what am I? What will I do? Was I stupid to believe I could actually do this? Are my paintings too scruffy? Am I not educated enough? Am I not as clever as I thought? Am I not as good as I thought? The email was so bad I was left completely stranded. The rejection sentence was so vague I had no idea why I was being rejected and no idea how I was ever going to meet with this undefined standard.

I survived though, the fallout from bad news is very rarely fatal. I went through so many emotions: shock, anger, resentment, bewilderment, despair. I felt my identity was completely shook at its core. It’s bizarre how much I believe I am not my paintings and I am not how I make money but how when I comes down to it I don’t think that at all. I over-identified with myself as the artist so when I was told I couldn’t be the artist I was an empty shell with just my emotions rattling round inside.

I healed too, after the break. I’m still dealing with it, the gallery are being asses in my opinion but I may get some ‘mentoring’ out of it. I put my pride aside and let my curiosity take over when I was offered this.

I took refuge in my yoga practice, doing Rodney Yee’s course and going to lots of classes. I could still feel good in my body I discovered, still feel good in trikonasana. I also discovered some very good advice in dealing with disappointment and rejection. I also found this quote on the latter site:

“Success is sweet: the sweeter if long delayed and attained through manifold struggles and defeats.”

–A. Branson Alcott

And I took with it all the feeling that I’m in good company: what good artist is ever accepted by the institution?

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4 thoughts on “Rejection and identity crisis

  1. wow brija, what a wrenchingly familiar expression of feeling from your rejection!

    to say i’ve lived the road of bewildering feelings of rejection and anger and hurt and doubt, many, many many times, would be an understatement of my life 😉

    if your drive to express yourself as an artist persists –

    and my guess is it will or already has, then the return of enhancement of your increased awareness while painting (or writing or play music etc) and…

    being able to tap into your deepest self again, and…

    eventually (if not already) realizing no one can take that tapping inward from you…

    and the resultant pleasure you’ll experience from that –

    will be your greatest reward….

    your creative output will be toppings on the cake of your organic life 😉

    best wishes brija!

    • Knowing you’re not the only one who’s felt this does help. I never really wanted to give up the art, I’m too far gone for that to be an option!
      Realising that we all have this inner life, this deepest self that no one can take away. It’s an important lesson to learn that we do this for ourselves, not for anyone else.
      Thanks for the support!

  2. Hi Brija,

    Thanks for the link to my blog! You’ve got the right idea, I think. Through my own trials, I’ve learned to find comfort and security in that unshakeable sense of self, my inner identity that no one and no thing can take away from me. In the darkest hours, I’ve told myself, “I’m OK. I’m still here. I’m still me.”

    Keep painting because it’s what you love. It’s so inspirational to me and others to see that you are making even a few dollars doing something you love. Isn’t that an awesome thing when you think about it?

    -Ray

    • Thanks to you for posting that article, it really helped when I was feeling low and despairing. Google brings the goods sometimes!
      It’s a valuable lesson in finding our unshakeable self and it seems to be only learnt through hardship. Thanks for the support and the comment, it means a lot! I’ve done better with making money than I ever could have hoped. It would have been so easy to not even give it a go. It pays off to take risks sometimes. You keep writing!

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