Yesterday I found out that something I applied for, related to my photographic art, I didn’t get. It’s one of those things… Lots and lots of people applied. Only a few were going to be selected. The odds were low. The selection process is always subjective with the jurors. The other work submitted was amazing. There are so many reasons I wasn’t selected. I can list them all.
Yet… I’m still disappointed.
It always happens when I hear I wasn’t chosen for something I applied for. Even though I know the odds are really low in anything art-related, I always apply with hope. There is always a piece of me that believes I have a chance at whatever it is. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t spend the time, energy and (sometimes) money to apply.
And so, there is the disappointment. It’s usually short, but it’s there. I feel the anticipation and excitement of receiving that letter or email or phone call… Hoping for the answer I’ve dreamed of… Only to get a sinking feeling in my gut as I find out the real results. It’s not me. I wasn’t chosen. As my dream world reconciles with the real world, the disappointment sets in. For a brief time, my inner child comes out: Why not me? What’s so great about this other work? What’s the point of it all? I hate to admit it, but that is almost always the first reaction.
And then… I take a step back and look at it more objectively. I turn on my mother voice, to talk to that petulant child… Now, you knew the odds going in. These things are subjective. And wow, isn’t the art that was chosen amazing? See what you can learn.
So I mentally pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again.
Such is the life of the artist. If we are going to put our work out there, if we are going to submit, there will be disappointment. The funny thing is, we usually only share the successes. So on the outside it looks like it’s smooth sailing. That someone is blessed, getting everything they want. I tell you, from the very real inside, that’s just not true.
For every success I share here, there are five times… no, make that ten times… the number of disappointments. For every step forward I make, the are many, many more steps back. It’s only because I have some inner drive, some passion for what I do that I continue on through all of the disappointments. I have belief in myself that I can succeed. And so the disappointment is all the more real.
Being an artist is not for the faint of heart. We put our selves, our soul, into the work we create and then we put it out there in the world. We open ourselves, knowingly, to the possibility of hurt. By the very nature of a selection process, we open ourselves to the likelihood of hurt. And yet we do it. Over and over again.
It takes both courage and resilience to be an artist. I’m calling on both today, to deal with my disappointment.