Dealing With Audition Rejection – 5 Strategies To Cope and Grow
For better or worse, rejections make up an enormous part of any actor’s career. As such, they are something we must all learn to cope with effectively. But even those with the thickest of skins can find themselves brought low by a continued dry spell. Whether you’re new to the industry or looking for some fresh strategies, here are some tactics to help cope when the going gets tough.
1. Divorce Career from Worth. We’re kicking it off with the big one! This one is very easy to say and understand, and also incredibly difficult to do. It is certainly something I still struggle with. But for the sake of your mental health and the sustainability of your career, it is critical to cultivate a sense of self-worth that is not solely defined by artistic output, or the perceived success of that output.
If every rejection feels like an indictment of your talent as an actor or your worth as a person, burnout is right around the corner. I find it especially important to remind myself of this in the auditions and projects I really care about.
Remember, at the end of the day, even the best gig is a job, and you are not your job (That was difficult even to type, but I promise it is true!).
2. Find Alternate Outlets. If acting is your only artistic outlet and you only engage in it on a professional level, every single audition will feel like it’s do-or-die.
Remember, you are an artist, not just a product. Find ways of engaging in acting and other artistic pursuits that are not dependent on getting hired by others. Work scenes with friends, host your own readings or find artistic hobbies and pursuits that are not acting. When you have a sense of control over your artistry and craft, the rejections will hold less power.
Bonus: When you’re engaging in your craft outside of gigs, you keep your skills fresh and sharp.
3. Work on Your Resiliency. Sometimes, no matter how much we tell ourselves how we should feel, we can’t make ourselves feel it. If you’re lacking the tools to separate yourself from your work, if every missed opportunity feels like a kick in the gut, you need more tools to help you bounce back.
Reach out for counseling, therapy, or other artists’ resources to help you build that resiliency. Broaden and strengthen your support system so you have people to go to for support when you’re full of doubt. Consciously seek and practice ways to help build up your mental health and sense of self-worth outside of acting. The more you practice, the better you’ll be able to bounce back after disappointment.
4. Have a Routine. No matter how much you work on your general resiliency, you’re sometimes going to have a bad day. Some rejections will sting more than others. When you get hit with an especially raw one, or when doubt feels overwhelming, it is important to already have a self-care routine in place. This way you don’t have to do the labor of coming up with one when you’re at your lowest.
Find simple, low-energy things you can do to comfort and empower yourself after a professional disappointment. Bubble baths, teas, favorite films, fun activities… make sure you have easy access to whatever works for you so you can jump into your recovery routine at a moment’s notice.
5. Invest in Perspective. Truly, perspective is key. It is so easy to feel isolated in this business, like you’re the only one struggling, especially if you’re constantly seeing other people’s supposed success and holding yourself up against it.
Comparison will cripple you. Social media is not an accurate reflection of anyone’s career or personal life. Hard as it may be, we have to remember that this is a numbers game, that every actor will experience a certain amount of rejection, and that there is no right timeline for when we hit career landmarks. Take a breath, pull back, and keep working.
At the end of the day, give yourself space to be disappointed, and then remember to look ahead. Find the next thing to look forward to and the next goal to work towards. This will likely be a lifelong practice. Learning to be your own best cheerleader will help you stay in the game for the long haul.
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