The Power of Rejection
I hope 2017 was a good year for you complete with ups and downs that taught you lessons and kept you going. During times of deflation and struggle, you found it in you to rise; to make difficult choices that you stand by firmly; ones that have shaped you in unforeseen ways and provided opportunities to grow as a human being. At your peaks, I hope you looked to the sides of you at the community of people holding you up, believing that you could do it.
Too often, the world tells us what it would like us to be, so we highlight the trophies. Promotions. Bookings. Official selections. While those validate our work and make us feel good, the most trying experiences are the ones that push us to find courage from a place we never knew existed. The darkest times—when we didn’t get accepted, or almost made it, but didn’t—that keep us on our toes.
This year has been the most beautiful and trying year of my life. I finished my first short film, The Hideout, at the beginning of 2017. Went to India. Turned 29. Saw things I’d never seen. Met people I didn’t know. Pushed creative limits and learned that each day is an opportunity to get better on this journey complete with success and rejection. The latter being most important in my eyes.
I turned an idea into a reality and never knew where it could lead me. The first few months of the circuit process I received responses like “unfortunately” or “we regret to inform you.” It pissed me off every single time. What was going to be enough to get the next opportunity? I quickly learned the only ones that would come would be the opportunities I made. I began writing other projects and slowly, the festival acceptances followed.
My brother sat me down one day and asked me what I really wanted? What was my ultimate dream for the film? Why was I making it?
“Close your eyes and visualize what it looks like after you finish your film,” he said, “What’s next? What do you see?”
I manifested. Stripped away any limitation I had set for myself. The Hideout became a proof of concept for my dream half-hour comedy television show. I applied to the Sundance Lab with three episodes and the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. I wrote. Re-wrote. Wrote. Made sacrifices. Made my dreams bigger. Worked harder. After rounds of rigorous interviews for the prestigious programs, sharing my detailed vision, answering the toughest questions I’ve ever been asked thus far of my work, the verdicts were in. I was a finalist for Sundance. I was a finalist for the AFI DWW. In other words, I was not accepted.
The idea that I was so close, but still so far away was a difficult one to grapple with. It would be a lie if I said there weren’t tears of frustration. Moments when I soaked in sadness with my closest friends by my side. But in the end, I knew as much as I wanted to abandon my work for a while, I could not. I recognized the decisions were indicators that I can compete in this town and I will, even if it takes one rejection after another to finally get a yes.
If a single year has taught me anything, it is that I am a step closer than the year before and rejection does things for an individual that acceptance does not. It forces you to give more of yourself, all of yourself, without every apologizing. Rejection is what keeps you defending your dreams.
This is the reason I am more excited than ever for the new year.
2018, here I come.