Finding that fight within you when you’ve been rejected is really hard. Rejection is part and parcel of a performance career – those of us who are in it know that only too well. But it doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. It does make the times you get a yes much more rewarding! But rejection can feel like it happens time and time again. Over and over until you doubt your ability, doubt your talent, doubt your choices. Until you can feel like quitting.
I’ve been thinking recently about what I would do if I did quit performing. Where I would move to, how I’d make something else I love into my livelihood. Because, let me be honest with you – I am not prepared to do something I don’t love. Don’t get me wrong, there are always ups and downs in everything we do! But I want to always wake up knowing I’m going to make someone’s day or impact on someone’s life a little bit. I’m lucky in the sense that both a performance and a fitness career have the power to do just that. I’m also acutely aware of the privilege I have in having these choices in the first place – but more on that at the end.
So how do you keep going? How do you muster up the guts to sing when you’ve been told no? How do you read that play, practice that dance move, go to a class or pick up that pen when you feel doubtful of your own talent? The short answer is… I don’t think I fully know really. What I do know is that today I USED my frustration and I challenged myself to sing something really quite difficult. Cos’ deep down, below all of the bubbling doubts, I knew I could do it and do it well.
I definitely went and meditated after some initial tears post-rejection… so that 100% gave me some headspace and room to find the confidence to press record. And even during and after having a good sing there were still some little demons in my head telling me it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t good enough and that I looked stupid. But by taking that time out to meditate and clear my mind it enabled me to find that fight inside me and sing my heart out in my most vulnerable state (my neighbours must love me).
The persistent battles we have to try and balance out as creatives are truly astounding. Not even the obvious “yes I am talented” or “maybe I’m not talented”. But dealing with being taken advantage of. Deciding whether you put up with being exploited to try and get that job or take a stand against it and not get the job at all. And, in relation to this blog, how much self promotion do we do? The battle as to whether to promote yourself on a public domain is harder than it sounds. I’m usually of the “just do it” attitude, but that doesn’t take away finding the confidence to sing/act/dance/write something in the first place! Or the inevitable judgement that can come with putting yourself out there. Not that I’m super fussed about that – judgement tends to come from a place of discontent so I try to take solace in that.
I’m on the brink of starting a new chapter in my life as I depart School of Rock in August. Choosing to leave a secure performance job is apparently a very hard decision (I’ve never had that privilege before!) and I’ve had a number of people look at me like I was insane to even consider moving on from a West End show. But that’s what we do! We creatives are ambitious people, we’re hungry and we need/crave variety. I for one am also desperate to feed my creativity by doing as many shows as possible! This job has taught me so much about myself with it being my first long contract. Almost 2 years with the show and I’m sad but so excited to see what’s next.
I’ll end this blog with an extra acknowledgment of my privilege. Choosing where to live, how to live and what to do career wise isn’t something that’s available to everyone. Reminding myself of that offers a certain amount of perspective. I should also say that quitting or choosing another path is by no means a failure. Putting your happiness and mental wellbeing first is to be applauded. Knowing the kind of life you want to lead and putting motions in place to achieve that life is highly commendable and should be encouraged.
If you’ve read this far then thank you. I’ll leave you with my determined, frustrated, adamant and truly passionate version of Let It Go. Cos’ you know what… in the words of a true (and slightly modern) yogi, really do “Let that s*** go”