Dealing With Rejection After a Long Audition Process

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Q: Any advice for dealing with rejection? Not for the little things, like the tiny auditions you’re maybe seen only once for, more like the rejection of getting very far in a process and then being told no. What do you do to cope? @Bwaycalls, Backstage Community Forums*

The further you get in an audition process, the higher the stakes can feel. All that effort and anticipation only to be told you didn’t book the job? You may find yourself in a downward spiral of self-doubt, mentally replaying the audition process, cataloging your mistakes, and catastrophizing about your acting career.

While rejection stings and the emotional pain is inevitable, what’s most important is how effectively you’re able to mentally and emotionally regroup after a big professional setback. As a therapist who works with actors, I suggest developing a “resilience ritual” to help you recenter, reconnect to your confidence, and get back out there as soon as possible. Here are some ideas:

Lean in to the pain of the rejection when it arises. Take a “time in” to connect to whatever subtle sensations in the body (tension, tightness, warmth, tingling) are letting you know emotions like sadness, anger, or fear are there. Sitting with difficult feelings—even for a couple of minutes a day—can help you accept, process, and release them.

Dig out a journal and answer these two questions: What from the audition process would I keep? What would I leave behind? Refocusing on what is actually within your control helps you become a stronger actor, both artistically and emotionally.

Shift your mental focus to gratitude. Be thankful for the opportunity and remember the many fans you’ve made during the process, including the casting director and creative team. There will inevitably be more opportunities down the road.

The pain of rejection is hard to cope with, but it’s also a beautiful reflection of how hungry you are to fulfill your highest potential as an actor. The more you practice a resiliency ritual, the easier it will be to celebrate your effort and let go of attachment to the outcome. And one final thought: Take that “dream job” off the pedestal! This means knowing that you can have it, that it’s for you, that it’s within reach, that it’s all a matter of time and tenacity. Then get out there and try again!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Jenny Williams
Jenny Williams, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist based in NYC and the Hudson Valley. Jenny helps clients with issues including audition and performance anxiety, depression, stress, work-life balance, self-doubt, relationships, success mindset, trauma recovery, and more. Jenny enjoys helping actors and artists heal from the past and ignite their talent to fulfill their creative dreams in life, business, and art.
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