May 1, 2007 at 3:52 AMA letter of rejection can be like a dagger through the heart. You work so hard and put so much of what you are into your performance that to have it rejected for whatever reason, it's like having your best friend ditch you at a social outing because she/he doesn't think you're "cool" enough anymore. Or something like that. Rejection, no matter the form it comes in is not a happy place to be in. It can tear a person down and make them depressed and troubled but on the other hand, it can be fuel to work harder and try to achieve new heights and make the rejector feel shame and loss at what they've done to you. As a musician, I have had to deal with rejection a lot. The first music camp I ever auditioned at, I was rejected. The following year, I got accepted into not one, but two programs. I took my chances and picked another, harder to get into program, and was once again met with rejection. That rejection letter, that most recent one from last year really tore at me somehow. My teachers, friends and family thought I would all be accepted, although my friends and family always think I should get accepted, that's what friends and family are for, but even my teachers were encouraging that I would get in, no problem. I gave myself room to hope a little, unlike with the first rejection letter I had years prior when I hadn't allowed myself to hope or dream that it might actually happen, this time, I gave in and I hoped that my intense want to attend would be enough to get me into the impossible. Hope. Encouragement. I didn't get in. I was met with rejection. Again. I went into my room calmly to be alone, I dealt with it in my own way and the fight began to prove my worthiness. There was always that twang of doubt in the back of my mind though that I couldn't do it, that I needed to give up and make way for the younger, better players out there and get a real life for myself. I persevered.
University auditions have by far been one of the most emotionally trying things I've ever done when it comes to my music career so far. I knew over a year ago when I started thinking about where to apply that it was going to be a challenge but I had no idea. That roller coaster you can be on through a good stretch of practicing and performances that sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly drops has not only the drops but cork-screws, and loops and all of them leave you clinging to the handle bars for help and the hope that you'll make it through the ride alive. If I had to describe my university prep year this past 8 months, roller coaster, a big one with all the terrifying fixings, would be the best example I could describe. I had my highs and I had my lows and they, like a roller coaster, would sometimes change in an instant. I'd be thrown a curve ball and not have the experience or tools capable of being able to negotiate it and hit the home run.
Up until last September I would go through one, maybe two major burn out periods a year. They might last a week or two at the most and were usually the result of a combination of school, work, performance, practice and lack of sleep and ability to keep up with it all. Starting in September, I was feeling good. I was energized, back to work with a flourishing studio of students that would prove to only grow and provide me with a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment and challenge! I was taking only two courses at school for first semester to upgrade so I'd have more things on my transcript when I applied (I ended up dropping one of those because my teacher was very unreasonable) and all in all, I felt great. October rolled around, I was still feeling pretty good, but the pressure was starting to settle in a little more heavily as I realized I'd be having a very limited amount of private instruction to prepare for these auditions and I had hopes of auditioning for the Banff Centre over the Christmas holiday. I eventually decided in November after some major burn out (I felt really gross about practicing and the whole bit for over 3 weeks) that I would not audition for Banff and focus on the more important things. My mom consented and I managed to get a lesson a few days before Christmas which boost my energy and enthusiasm through the Christmas break. January rolled around and I was still feeling pretty good although I usually had about 2 days a week where I felt frustrated with my ability to advance in my playing. By February I was agonizing over the auditions and all I wanted was to be done or give up. It was incredibly hard to stay focused. I was getting sick of the repertoire, I felt I had reached a more or less stand still point in my audition repertoire. It was a gruelling month to get through and my mind was on overdrive constantly. I wasn't sleeping properly at all and mood wise I was in a perpetual state of PMS throughout. Finally March 1st rolled around and I was starting to see the home stretch. I had a lesson a few days before my first audition that gave me the boost I needed to stay focused. The day before my first audition (as most of you already know) I managed to injure my hand pretty badly. Despite the pain which I can honestly say is the most pain I've ever experienced, I played that first audition and wrote the theory and English entrance exams. I put myself into that amazing performance element and managed to block out the pain through much of my performance though I sure felt it towards the end. I made it through though. With very little physical practicing for my next audition I managed to memorise the third piece which I had stuck out of my mind while I worked on the repertoire for my first audition. I got through that audition, then came my final audition. With next to no practicing for weeks on end, my endurance levels were not what I would have wanted and with little sleep the night before I walked in and played. I didn't get nervous at first though I was severely over-tired and stressed hoping my coffee would keep me awake and focused for what I needed to do. The nerves hit when my pianist started the introduction. I felt like that roller coaster of up and down with my level of burn out to my level of enthusiasm was realising itself in my playing - starting out badly, getting better, worse, better again, worse etc. But I survived!
Rejection is what I expected. Rejection is what I had prepared for. The postal system lost one of my audition packages, it arrived late. Papers that weren't my responsibility from my school and elsewhere didn't arrive when needed. Rejection it seemed was written across my forehead (unless you asked my friends and family - that in itself put stress on these auditions to succeed). Nothing was going right. More stress. Less sleep. Harder to maintain my focus. That burn out thing was really taking over this time around.
To my surprise, but apparently not to anyone elses, I received my first letter of acceptance. I was thrilled! Last week, early in the week, a second letter of acceptance. I was feeling completely on cloud 9 and was so sure that I had my studies figured out. Surely I wouldn't get into 3 out of 3 institutions. Especially considering the competitiveness of the 3rd place. To my complete shock and surprise I got in! So I was left with the decision of three places. I was left feeling like, why couldn't just one place reject me and make my decision easier! But no. Life has a funny way of surprising us and this has been a huge surprise and incredibly overwhelming but also incredibly thrilling.And now the decision has been made. It was a hard choice but I've researched, sought advice from someone I respect a great deal in the music field and have come to a conclusion. I will be staying here on the west coast this year and be one of their new violin performance majors at the University of British Columbia. I'm so excited and I can't wait to get started.
Thank you for writing and congratulations!!! Knowing rejection quite well (not needing to get into that here), you're right, one can either wallow in self-pity or use the energy to reach a new horizon.
Mind you, while I'm still reaching for that horizon, I'm still getting rejections. Go figure - invited to yet another competition, but rejected by the organization from which I applied for a grant...
It would be very interesting to really hear people talk about all of this - how to use rejection to one's advantage.
Ray, your funny post is getting me really worried about getting on board of an airplane.
What I’ve learned from rejection is:
a)One door close, another open: it’s time for new opportunities;
b)It’s time for an appeal process: someone may have made a mistake that is correctable. If the decision is not changed, at least I know the reason behind without the painful guessing.
c)It’s time to re-examine your approach to the goal and to see if you can do it differently next time. Especially if you have gone through an appeal process, you’ll learn a lot from others. Something they say you may not agree and most will be upsetting to know; yet, these are the kind of stuff help us grow.
Sounds like you've had quite a hassle! I hope college goes well for you!
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