It was my birthday. (Insert birthday wishes here.) I was celebrating right next door to the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre. I’ve previously written about how much this theater means to me so between the location, the good company, and the delicious appetizers, it was the perfect set up for a good night out.
To top things off, I ran into several other acting friends and peers, one of which had not long ago been on Steppenwolf’s MainStage. I was particularly excited to see him because I had recently auditioned for the School at Steppenwolf using a scene from his play and I couldn’t wait to tell him about it.
What was more interesting to learn was that he too had attended the School at Steppenwolf many years ago. And despite my knowing him as “the guy who has worked at Steppenwolf,” he actually got rejected on his first try. In fact, it took him six years before he was finally accepted.
“Wait, what?! You’re telling me this talented individual wasn’t born on the Steppenwolf MainStage where he was immediately given a scholarship to attend the School at Steppenwolf on a day of his choosing, plus guaranteed access to a MainStage production upon graduation?!”
I’m still waiting for news of my audition results. However, I never considered how upset a rejection email might have made me prior to hearing this news from my friend. Hearing stories of rejection and adversity from peers that I look up to is inspiring. Not because I like hearing they had setbacks but because they end up okay. It makes me feel more “normal” to know that my rejection isn’t something to be worried about.
For some reason, us actors like to beat ourselves up when we get rejected. We think there’s something wrong with us. We come up with all the things we did wrong in the audition. Then we go into scenarios about how we’re always going to be failures and working day jobs we hate. But the truth is, it’s just part of the journey. And it’s perfectly normal.
The next time you’re rejected from one of your dream projects, consider the number of others who are currently crushing it who went through the same thing. Better yet, if you can get access to them (while still being a normal person), get in touch and see if you can chat. I bet you’ll be surprised to hear how much adversity they struggled with prior to those big wins that you keep seeing.
Stay positive. Stay normal.
Tony Rossi is an actor working out of Chicago with a strong interest in personal development. As he continues to build his resume, he loves helping his peers recognize their self-worth regardless of where they are in their careers. Follow his positive thoughts, inspirational videos, and #notperfect moments on Twitter and Instagram.
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