I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t post it though. I needed to sit on it a while and assess if I should. The post was about rejection. And feeling like crap. Who writes blog posts about feeling crappy!? I know I usually don’t. Typically we post things when we land the big project, when our partner makes us dinner, when our kids do super cute things. I think its human nature to want to share our stories of success. As artists, we don’t want to publicly tell people about the rejected grants, the shows we didn’t get, the days where we ask ourselves what the f*%k are we doing with our lives and why don’t we just get a real job.
But I realized maybe there is value in other people hearing about my challenges and days of feeling defeated. I’m pretty sure everyone has those days, but sometimes when all we see is gloss and Instagram filters, we forget that under it all, along with the ups, there are also downs. That’s life baby.
So the reason for all this rumination was because I had presented a project for a public art commission, but alas.... I didn’t get it. In French, they call it a “concour”, and that’s exactly what it is; a contest where 3 - 5 artists are shortlisted, and then they pitch their project to a committee. One wins, and the others have to be professional and pick up the pieces of their dignity and self-respect and keep on keeping on, pretending like its just part of the game, and “better luck next time”.
This is usually what I do. I don’t dwell on it. I look at what I’ve learned from the process; I look at what I need to work on to improve myself and my projects, and I aim to do better next time. I’ve never been the type to wallow around in self-pity over anything. When I’m feeling low after rejections, I go to the gym and exorcise my frustrations through physical activity; I put on some Missy Elliot, roll up my sleeves, and get back to my studio.
I don’t wallow: I make shit happen! I have been shortlisted for almost 20 projects (I honestly can’t remember) and have been awarded 7 public art projects in the Montreal area. I think that’s amazing!
Well, most days I think its amazing.
But on this particular day, the day after not getting a project, I didn’t want to turn my frown upside down. I didn’t want to stay positive and see this as a learning experience for next time like I usually do.
I wanted to stay in bed all day and eat potato chips. So, so many potato chips. Mmmmm…. Potato chips.
And it’s the middle of February. What does sunshine look like again?
It’s 2 weeks later, and now I’m posting this because I’ve had some time to let dust settle and to come back to my centre; the fighter in me has re-emerged and is ready to take on all of life’s challenges. I realized that my disappointment wasn’t because of not getting one project, it was the collective disappointment of many rejected proposals over many years. I just reached a tipping point.
But in life, we face many many tipping points, and every time we have to decide if we’re going to get back up or not. Is this going to break me? Is this going to define me? Or will I choose to look this pain, this disappointment, this sadness in the eye and stand up to it. Whether work related, or affairs of the family and the heart, we can only do better by looking at all of it as learning and opportunity for growth. You grow or you die.
I still have several bags of potato chips in the house, just in case I need them. But for now, they remain unopened and I’m going to the gym, with some Missy Elliot flowing through my earbuds, fuelling my vibe.
Bring it life. I’m ready.