Digital Media Illustration by Melissa Whitaker
Ahhhhhh. Disappointment, the gum on the shoe of every artist. Difficult to remove and a constant reminder of a step once taken. It clings to your soul and gives you a feeling of inadequacy. A nagging persistence that your art or even you are not good enough. It is a struggle that everyone must deal with from time to time. It has become a constant companion that is stuck to my shoe and I have learned to incorporate it into my walk. Every now and then it gets a little sticky, but most of the time it’s just an imbalance that needs to be corrected.
The artistic way of life is really quite masochistic. The muse inspires one to create, but the creation seldom measures up to what the mind has envisioned. Leaving an artist feeling disappointed, discouraged, disillusioned, and dejected. Then that artwork is put on display for all the world to judge. If the piece is accepted the brain is flooded with endorphins that will give the artist a temporary high. A high that is desperately sought after, to the point that rejection is the price that is willing to be paid in order to achieve a personal validation.
This week I received another email that will be added to the collection of rejection letters in my file cabinet. (I keep thinking that someday I will make a collage of all of them). It felt like I had just stepped on a tarantula size wad of gum. No matter how much I tried to shake it off, it would not let loose. This was not the same as entering a juried art show where the judging was based on your work and whether or not it would fit in with the rest of the show. This felt personal. A judgment of me and who I am. No matter how many times I told myself, “It’s nothing personal.” It stuck to my soul as a constant reminder that I was not worthy. I would be happily preparing Thanksgiving dinner and then BAM! it would remind me and I would start crying. (The blessing was, I could blame the crying on cutting onions). It took a few days and a few bottles of wine to accept the fact that it wasn’t personal. It’s not that I wasn’t worthy, it’s simply that I wasn’t ready YET.
It is extremely tempting to give up and not submit oneself to rejection over and over again, but then there would never be that ultimate high of validation. That wondrous ecstasy of achievement that I strive for. If we let the disappointments fester an accumulate we become stuck and never move forward. Disappointments can fool you and stretch to make you feel like you are moving forward, but they will inevitably pull you back to where you were. I will scrape the gum from my shoe and leave a bit of the residue to harden, to remind me that life has its disappointments, it’s what we do with them that makes the difference. The important thing is to keep moving forward, that is the only way to arrive at where you are going.
Now then, please excuse me while I go to the store to purchase a pack of gum. I seem to have dropped mine.