By guest-writer Christina Stone
“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” – Stella Adler
Rejection. All artists must deal with it. All humans must deal with it. My idea isn’t good enough, I don’t make enough money, I’m under qualified, I’m over qualified, I’m not the right type, I’m not cool enough, I’m not good enough. For artists I venture to say that rejection comes much more frequently and can be exponentially more devastating. An artist’s very livelihood often (if not always) depends upon validation from others. No matter what we create, the hard truth is that we need to sell our creation in order to earn a living. It’s a repulsive thought: “I have something in my innermost precious and secret self which needs to be expressed and shared, but after creation that sacred thing will be scrutinized, judged and rejected by countless people until someone with money/ connections/ /resources feels that they can use me or my work.”
How can we survive? Or rather, why do we continue to fight? I believe the answer is the same for all artists: “Because I must.” No one creates solely for profit. No one opens her soul to criticism, rejection, and heartbreak for the sake of giving others the satisfaction. Some can produce a product that is popular, marketable, and easy by which they can earn a living. But these are not artists. Alex Grey says in his book The Mission of Art, “Artists build a bridge to the soul by doing their art.” The mere act of risking something so deep and precious to us that we can be hurt by the result is what makes us artists. It is what makes what we do art.
My main man Bill Shakespeare put it this way:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Hamlet, I.iii, 78-80
Anne Hathaway literally acted her hair off in Les Mis and most of my friends can’t hear her name without rolling their eyes or ranting. Van Gogh never sold a paining in his life. And you know what?–full disclosure, I HATE Frank Sinatra. But you know what all of this criticism ultimately means to an artist? Not a damn thing. These artists have been true to themselves and their inner voice and someone (or, a lot of someones) recognized what they have done as truth. Shakespeare had it right; if we are true to ourselves then our work cannot lie.
Remember this. Next time you face rejection, ask yourself: “Am I happy with what I did?” If yes, then take pride in your own work and move on. If no, look deeper next time. Perhaps you weren’t being truthful with yourself. If you are honest with yourself it must follow that your work is honest and eventually someone will recognize it. Being an artist is a selfish path. We DO NOT do it for satisfaction or approval of others. Yes, we are hopeful, sensitive, empathetic, spiritual, even some are enlightened individuals. But we do it because we must. We must be truthful, or face living a lie. We must look deeper, or lose sight of ourselves altogether. We must create to survive.
May this be a message of hope and clarity even to those who have never recited a line and who absolutely suck at Pictionary.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr Suess
By guest-writer Christina Stone
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.