Overcoming Rejection: Stop Letting Others Decide Who You Are

Few professions are as subjective to the opinions of others as creative ones. Perhaps because artists are usually self-proclaimed. Yes, you can get a college degree in your artistic field, but that doesn’t make you an artist, does it? Usually not. You’re an artist when you decide to be one.

The only problem is we don’t trust ourselves, enough, do we? And we fall into the trap of validation. Or rather, letting other people’s opinions and job titles decide whether or not we really are artists.

We’ve all been there:

  • waiting for an agent to decide if we actually are writers
  • waiting for a script to sell to decide if we can call ourselves screenwriters
  • waiting for a manager or label to sign us to decide if we are musicians

Then, once that happens, we start to look at numbers:

  • large sales = we must be artists after all!
  • fans and followers flow in = we’ve made it!
  • second, third, fourth deals are made = we’ve arrived!

Or have we?

  • sales fallย  = we wonder if we aren’t good enough after all
  • fans attack, criticize, followers unfollow = we question our talent and abilities
  • deals break, we’re passed over, agents resign = we wonder what we were thinking in the first place

Yes, it takes dozens of other people and circumstances to align to achieve monetary success in any artistic field. But would we be more successful if we stopped allowing other people to decide who we are and we made a decision to be who we want to be?

I think so. People sense vulnerability and insecurity. If you don’t know who you are and you give other people the power to decide who you are, they’ll decide.

Would people relate to us differently if we held a firm conviction of who we are and did not leave that up for debate for anyone?

Would being an artist hurt less? If we were judged on our work and didn’t mix it up with our identity? After all, if you’re a doctor, you’re a doctor – doesn’t matter whether patients like you or not. You don’t question whether you’re a doctor, you know you are. Everyone else knows you are, too.ย  Same goes for almost every profession I can think of.

Rejection is 97% perception and only 3% fact. We attach huge meanings to rejection as artists, hinging our identity, our self-worth, our value even as human beings on the very subjective opinions of others. In reality, we’re inflicting this pain on ourselves.

If we didn’t leave our identity as artists up for debate, we’d start to see that when someone says no, it may have nothing to do with the quality of our work at all. It certainly has nothing to do with our identity at all. People have very refined tastes for what they like and don’t like, what interests them and doesn’t. I know I do. I can tell within the first 3 seconds of a song whether or not it interests me. Does that mean that the song isn’t good or that the artist isn’t a “real” artist? Hell, no. Whether I like or don’t like a book, a song, a film has everything to do with me and very little, if anything, ever, to do with the artists who created it.

The business of art has created some very odd dynamics. The idea that you submit art to an “agent” in the hopes of finding a match are very much like trying to find someone to marry you. It doesn’t work that way. You need to be the best artist you can be, learn your craft, do quality work, stay true to who you are, don’t pan to trends and say what your spirit has to say. You need to be happy, enjoy creating, love what you do. Be content but ready for what’s next.

Then fate steps in. Magic happens. You meet the right person at the right time in circumstances you could never have imagined.

You have to have faith and you have to be yourself. Wholly, truly, confidently.

That’s what attracts the right business decision-maker to your work, and more importantly, to you as an artist.

You decide you’re an artist.

Others respond – positively and negatively –ย  to your work.

You keep being an artist.

The key word is “be.”







About Britta Reque-Dragicevic

Inspiring, nurturing, and giving voice to the human spirit.

Posted on Tuesday, in Inspiration, Internal, Motivation. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Donald Arsenault

    Great article! I couldn’t agree more. This world unfortunately has way too many insecurity issues leading people to being who they don’t want to be.

  2. Name it and claim it actually works here. Wrote a variation about this exact topic at one point, but can’t find it right now ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  3. Great article; thanks for the jolt of reality. 97% vs. 3%…I like that. Definitely going to RT this to my followers!

  4. angiepang

    Absolutely fantastic post. Agree agree agree. Stunning, clever perspective. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Britta – I really enjoyed this! But I was wondering what your thoughts were on price? For example- I want to know what is the difference between the artist who sells her bracelets for $10 on Etsy and the artist who sells her bracelets for $250 and is in high end boutiques? Assume that the pieces are very similar. I would much rather be the $250 artist! Can I just decide that? Is it that simple? Or is there more to it?

    • Hi Leah,

      If the quality of the work is similar, I really do believe it is a decision you make. You set the value of your time and art, and then market to the higher-paying clientele. It’s a question of deciding that is who you are going to be as an artist, and then entering that realm. It’s really a matter of what space you want to inhabit, then living in the mindset of that space. In other words, you need to believe that your work is worth $250 (or more) if you expect others to believe it, too. They will take you at the value you set. And there are plenty of people in the world who pay the higher prices. But they are not going to be found where the $15 crowd is. So there can be some “growing into” and inner work and exploring markets that needs to happen.

      My article on Top Five Things I’ve Learned as a Freelance Writer speaks a bit to this. Also, Christine Kane (christinekane.com) does a lot of work helping women artists to “Uplevel” their game. Her articles have truly helped me over the years.

      Thanks so much for reading and for reaching out! I LOVE that you’re doing your art. Keep me posted!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thanks so much for your response – I really appreciate it!

        I have been wondering about this for a while now and have asked many people the same question. However, they all said that it was pure luck. But, that never made much sense to me.

        Will definitely check out the article and website you recommended. Thanks again!

      • No, it’s not luck. ๐Ÿ™‚ You decide to play a bigger game with bigger players. ๐Ÿ™‚ And you are so welcome!!! Say, let me know what your website is??? I’d love to see your work.

  6. No website yet – working on it! : )

  1. Pingback: Overcoming Rejection: Stop Letting Others Decide Who You Are

  2. Pingback: Know Thyself and Triumph « davidshogan

  3. Pingback: Take Action – Dreams Don’t Come True Without You « creative inside out

  4. Pingback: Healing the Wounds of Creative Success: Fame « creative inside out

  5. Pingback: On Craft, Fear, Discipline and Trusting Your Own Opinions « creative inside out

  6. Pingback: Overcome Self-Doubt to Make Artistic Decisions « creative inside out

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: