Five Ways To Deal With Rejection


Being part of the entertainment business means dealing with rejection (and if that isn’t the case for you, congrats because you’re extremely rare.) As an independent filmmaker who has submitted six films and multiple scripts to many film festivals, I’ve received more rejection letters than I care to count. Initially, they stung but by the fourth film, I understood they were part of the deal if I was going to try to get my films made and screened. And while my experience with rejection does come largely from filmmaking, I believe it is part of any endeavor one sets out to achieve. Keeping that in mind, here are five ways I’ve found to be helpful when dealing with rejection. I hope they are helpful to you as well!

Way #1 – Understand that rejection is not personal.

I know. How can rejection not be personal if you are the person being given the rejection? When the rejection letters first started rolling in from festivals for the first two short films I made, I would often get sad and think that I was personally being rejected. And while there are things to learn from rejection letters (which we’ll get to), I’ve found it’s best to understand that rejection comes from other people’s opinions and tastes and that ultimately, only you are the arbiter of the worth of what you have to offer.

Way #2 – Use rejection as motivation.

I don’t know about you but rejection has a way of making me go into defense mode. But I’ve learned that rather than getting defensive, it’s best to use rejection as a means of motivation. If someone or some entity rejects my work, than I use that as motivation to make my work as great as it can be. If I want someone to change their mind, then I believe I need to show them why they should. So every time something I’ve submitted is rejected, I use the rejection as fuel to keep propelling me forward – not out of anger but determination.

Way #3 – Don’t obsess over rejection.

It’s very easy to obsess over things beyond our control. The uncertainty of it all is enough to make anyone stressed. But I’ve found that reading rejection letters over and over again is far from beneficial. It’s the opposite. Okay, someone rejected something you were offering. Read the letter once, maybe twice, but after that, why keep it? Or why play a conversation over and over again in your mind? Write down anything worthwhile from it and move on.

Way #4 – Take rejection with a grain a salt.

Don’t just take their word for it. If someone says what you’re offering is trash or no good, does that make it so? No, it doesn’t. Remember that. Only you can define your worth. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about some of the greatest minds being rejected over and over again only to find that final person who believed in them. What I like to do is ask myself if I believe in what I’m doing and if the answer is yes, I take rejection with a grain of salt.

Way #5 All that said, try to learn something from rejection.

There is something of value in every rejection. I look at it like this – either it offers constructive criticism that makes you think and ultimately makes your idea better, or it offers you something you don’t agree with and reinforces your belief and passion in your project. Either way, it’s a win-win situation. Sure, you didn’t get what you sought out to get but as long as you learn something, how bad is it really?

And kudos to all who put something out in the world, that has the possibility of being rejected. Best wishes to you!