Rejection hurts whether you’ve faced it just once or a hundred times. But the truth is, it happens to everyone at some point. Rejection comes in many forms in the photography world… your dream client chooses another wedding photographer, the local photojournalists group decides your work is too traditional to accept you as a member or your friends get a $50 photo deal from Groupon. No matter the details, it stings to get snubbed. Here’s how to keep it from ruining your mojo.
Don’t take it personal. This is one of the hardest things to do when you get rejected, but it’s so important. But when we take things personally, we tend to feel like we’re not good enough. And that my friends, is a very slippery slope! If you can look at the rejection from an outside perspective, you can often find lots of reasons that don’t have anything to do with you personally. Instead of feeling bad, you can sit back and be grateful that your friends booked another photographer to shoot their extended family of thirty four people wearing jeans and white t shirts… in fact, maybe you should buy her a coffee as a way of saying thanks.
Let it go. If you’re already channeling your inner Elsa and belting out “let it go! let it go!”, you’re on the right track. But there’s something else we want to tell you. It’s okay to sit with the disappointment for a little bit before you let it go. Just make sure that ‘a little bit’ doesn’t translate into two days or three and a half weeks… one afternoon is plenty of time to be disappointed before you you move on. And we won’t judge you if doing a full scale karaoke of Let It Go helps you, well, let it go.
Resist the urge to self-criticize. This goes hand-in-hand with not taking things personally. Remember that slippery slope we mentioned? When you take things personally, it’s so easy to come up with all the reasons that you didn’t get hired or didn’t make the club. But telling yourself that you’re not good enough/nice enough/experienced enough etc is not going to make you feel better. Instead, it will be fuel to the fire and you’ll find it really hard to move on.
Give yourself a self esteem boost. Since we know that self-criticism is a bad idea, it follows naturally that boosting your self esteem is a good idea. Now don’t worry, we’re not going to ask you to look in the mirror and say nice things about yourself. But if that’s how you roll, we’re not going to stop you. It seems to really work for this little girl. Another option is to write down a few great things about yourself or even just take a minute to think about all the really good traits you’re cultivating in yourself. It’s hard to tell yourself you didn’t get hired because you’re a terrible photographer when you remind yourself that you’ve been working hard to improve your photography skills every day for ten years. Remember: it’s not you, it’s them.
Find the silver lining. Finding the silver lining can be easy at times and other times, it may require a little extra effort. But it’s always there if we choose to look for it! Not booking that wedding could free up your weekend to take a vacation with your family or to book a destination wedding to a country you’ve only dreamed of visiting. Finding the silver lining forces you to see the positive in the situation and that act alone will help steer you in the right direction when it comes to getting over rejection. And if the silver lining isn’t apparent right away, be patient. You never know when the universe will knock on your door to remind you why you didn’t get hired for the last job.
Perhaps your anxieties are internal? The fear of failing at that which is most dear to you? Or the terror of living with regrets that can never be remedied?