Recently I’ve had quite a few encounters with the foul stench of rejection; not to mention is killer right hook. Don’t worry, I’m not writing this to pity and bemoan myself. I can do that some other time. Right now I want to talk about that part of human nature, so beautifully put into words by Alexander Pope: “Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast“.
The inertia of my life is overwhelming me at the moment. I live with my parents in a town where there is literally nothing to do. I have no job. I have few friends nearby. I have no school to go to anymore. Basically I am at a complete standstill. I know that I am biding my time here. I will leave for England in November and I will hopefully start a new life there. Right now, I’m just sucking it up and saving it up. Everything and anything.
But there was always one shining beacon of future possibility; a tiny speck of hope in the emotional wasteland that is my life. I still had a chance I might get accepted into the ‘National Film & Television School’ in Beaconsfield. I am writing this in the past tense, because once again rejection punched me in the face and spat on me. Two nights ago my mom handed me a letter from London. I knew immediately from the size of the envelope (Rejection and I have had multiple run-ins the past few years) that it wasn’t the news I had hoped for and sort of expected.
I knew the chances of getting in there were miniscule, but I figured I at least stood a fighting chance… and then I found out I didn’t. The punch stung a bit, but I’d been bracing myself for weeks for it. I sort of anticipated the blow, and it wasn’t so bad. The worst thing of the rejection is that they don’t tell you why. Was it my work, the application form I filled out, the treatment for a short film I send along, all three of them. Am I just not good enough? Am I too good? Is it my personality? Am I a horrible writer? Was it because I wrote-produced and directed my film instead of just directing? Am I too inexperienced. Am I…. Was it…. A multitude of reasons go through your mind, and all are equally valid.
You just keep going over and over everything. Self doubt and insecurity rear their ugly heads again. I start wondering if I truly want to make my career out of this. Am I good enough? Don’t get me wrong. I love making films. I love everything about it, but I don’t still want to be at this level 15 years from now dreaming of a feature film career. I won’t be able to cope with that. Hearing you are brilliant and a genius and ‘so incredibly capable’ on a regular basis has a way of messing with your head. I’ve never felt very comfortable when people told me that, because of the lingering insecurities I do have, but nevertheless somehow you still end up believing it. I don’t think I’ll be satisfied if I am who I am today 10 years from now. In fact, I think I’ll be fucking miserable.
So, but the insecurities are the worst part of the rejection. They are severe but they are part of the game. Right now there is an agonizing fight going on inside me, wondering if I should pursue my chosen career (given that there are so many things I find so incredibly interesting as well) or just give up.
And while the words: ‘Give up because you suck and your films suck!’ are echoing through my brain right now, I know that in the end I won’t care. I love film. I love telling stories. I love writing. I love playing dress up, playing games and lying. So at some point I’ll stop worrying and embrace what I love again. Then I won’t care if I have to struggle for another 10 year anymore. I’ll realize how incredibly privileged I am. I get to do what I love and if I stop loving that, I’ll have plenty of other options.
And for now, I just embrace the wonderful words that I can’t accredit to anyone but are possibly the most beautiful words in the world. “It is what it is.”
I didn’t get in at the school I wanted to get into since I was 16 years old. It is what it is. I did my best and worked my hardest and I didn’t get in. It is what it is. I did everything in my power and I failed. It happens. Embrace it. The acceptance of rejection, of failure tastes sweet after a while. Life goes the way it goes, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it.
Hence, the power of it is what it is.
Sometimes you have to accept. I didn’t get into film school. It’s too bad but that’s the way things go.
And so what, film school is not actually mandatory to get anywhere. Steven Spielberg never got in. Besides, I can always try again next year. I would still kill for two years of training and getting better at my craft. But I don’t need the NFTS for that as much as I want it to be.
So… in that moment when my mom handed me that envelope, it didn’t sting that much. I now at least know what my life will look like the next year. I decided to work really hard. Move to England in November. Start writing with much more dedication. Get my first feature film out of my pen and do it myself. In the mean time I will take any job in the film industry there, for any money and just work as hard as I possibly can. I will make my connections and learn as much as I can, and someday I might look back and smile, knowing it all turned out just fine and that all that rejection was good for me.
It might not be how I envisioned my career and life would go. But who cares.
Hope springs eternal.
It is what it is.
It’s funny that when I spell checked this post, it kept trying to change “It is what it is.” to “It is.”
It’s funny because it is true.