All my life I’ve been terrified of rejection and have taken elaborate steps to avoid it. Which is funny as I ended up in sales, where you place yourself in front of rejection every day, sometimes many times a day. To protect myself I learned what objections people had and built that into my presentations, thus minimizing rejection. I learned to not take things so personally and realized that life is really a numbers game.
However, when it came to my art and writing I was still extremely terrified to step out into the playing field. If someone rejected an insurance policy I could justify it to myself that they already had a good policy, rates weren’t quite as competitive or their brother in law was their agent. That’s professional rejection, and I learned it had nothing to do with me personally.
So why in the world was I putting myself out for possible rejection with my photography and writing? That’s the most personal rejection possible. Well, because I have healed from the rejection of my parents and family, I have learned to take risks and also to stop taking things so damn personally. I’ve learned from looking at others artworks that I might like the person but his artwork leaves me unmoved. I realized that if I feel that way, why should I worry if others don’t like my artwork? It’s a tricky slope. But it’s a very real fear.
I’m more afraid of what I don’t try to accomplish than what I fail at by not trying. There’s aquote attributed to Mark Twain I like:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I try to live my life without regrets. I have always envied those who put their photo note cards in shops and thought “Why not me?” This question gave me courage to submit my work into the world.
I had a free booth at South Bay Pride that I won by submitting my photography. Many people came to my booth on Saturday. They said what a great photographer I am and how they liked my use of color….and didn’t buy anything. I thought about all the times I walked by notecards I liked and for various reasons didn’t buy them. Maybe lack of money, time or no use for them—even though I liked them. So why should people react any differently to my art?
Several friends asked me how it went. I told me how great it was that I tried and put myself out there. I commented to Ernie that in the past I would have been surrounded by people who discouraged me. Ernie said why would they, they like you? When I was living in victim mode I surrounded myself with people who verified that for me. However since I have healed emotionally, I have started surrounding myself with people who are supportive. It’s what keeps me going and what gives me hope. It’s interesting to look back at the arc of my healing journey and to see how as I have healed I have surrounded myself with better, kinder people.
One of my photographer friends commented that the board I put together with a sampler of my photos was brilliant.That was really encouraging. As a result of that board, people were able to see a collection of my work and able to chose what they wanted without having to paw through the stand.
I’m going to keep trying and keep getting better. It’s a habit now the way victimization was a habit before. I think differently now and life reflects that.
In the past I would have been horribly hurt and felt like my friends were rejecting me if they didn’t make a special trip to see my artwork. Now since I’m not neurotic with anxiety I realize that people have things to do and it doesn’t mean they are rejecting me. What a relief and what an enormous lightening of energy!
Unless otherwise noted, all photos are original and the property of Susanne Romo. If you would like to use them, please do so, but give yourself the gift of good karma and make a small donation to pretty horses rescue. This charity rehabilitates starving, abandoned horses. Every dollar helps us rescue and rehabilitate starving horses.