February 03, 2014

A Jill of All Trades. A Master of None. Let's Talk Rejection.

Ok, so one of the main reasons I tend to shy away from posting anything that might be considered "negative" on the blog is because I would never want to come across as ungrateful or selfish. I also find myself feeling guilty anytime I start to dwell on my own problems, because I instantly think of all of the people in the world that have much larger problems than myself.

But let's face it, no one's life is a meadow full of unicorns and we are all going to get upset sometimes no matter how hard we try to push our problems behind others. Today is one of those days for me. And I wanted to write about this while it was fresh.

This Winter has been draining on the career/money front. I finally have a day job that I am in love with, and that allows me the time to make art and work freelance, which is what I wanted. But I work at a non-profit and my hourly is not much. My freelance has gone from slim to none as the Winter has drawn out and I find myself drained of almost every financial resource. 

I've also been working like a maniac on new drawings and paintings, mostly because I've felt inspired to do so, but the influx in work has made me crave having my work shown in a more physical capacity. Today I dealt with yet another round of rejection.

I feel defeated.
I look around and see so many of my friends being so successful and with seemingly every resource and connection they could need and I'm sitting here with a million drawings in a room alone. 
Sounds pitiful, I know, and it is. 

But as the moments after rejection pass, and the tears start to subside, moments of clarity and questioning take place.

Why do I do art at all? Seems like a waste of time. I may not have enjoyed my desk jobs - I was downright miserable at times, but should I be struggling to pay for food every month, just to work on art that it seems no one will see in real life? 

And then I realize that the rejection is making me take a harder look at why I do what I do, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. What is important? How in the world would my life be more fulfilling going back to a meaningless job, where I experience no real challenge or reward. 

Rejection of your personal work is a personal thing. It is much more painful than being angry that 
no-one made coffee at the office this morning, or that a pallet or packing material is going to be delayed. Those things are trivial in comparison to feelings of worthlessness.

But then I suppose, all of this rejection makes the times when you get that letter/email that says "Congrats" instead of "We regret to inform you" that much sweeter. This is me trying to be optimistic again, and really, I'll most likely be curling up in a blanket of self-pity for at least a couple more hours, but at least the spark of hopefulness is there.
I'll leave you with a quote from Stephen King that I have always loved and is sitting on my lap today.

By the time I was fourteen … the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.
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  1. Hi Jillian -- I read this post a couple days ago and it's really stayed with me since then, so I feel compelled to comment (sorry if it gets a little long!)...

    First, I want to say that I appreciate your refreshing honesty! I personally don't have time for blogs that are just filled with pictures of the author looking gorgeous and happy, and giving the impression that they are having an amazing time and loving life 24/7, as if they don't live in the real world with the rest of us... Life can be really hard and really overwhelming, and sometimes we all need to reach out to others for encouragement/support (or just vent our frustrations!). Please don't ever feel guilty that you're choosing to share the fact that you're human and experience the ups and downs of life like the rest of us. Honestly, it's refreshing to see!

    Second, I want to say that I (and I'm sure many, many other people in the world) TOTALLY relate to what you're going through!! Defeat is such a hard feeling to overcome because it contains so much hopelessness... It's something that I've really been struggling with the past 6+ months for a couple of reasons, with the main reason being what you touched on -- for years I've been stuck in jobs that range from mundane/boring to downright inhumane/panic-attack inducing due to the amount of stress my job has put on me. And I continue to put up with it simply because these office jobs pay much better than jobs that are creatively fulfilling. After years of making this choice, I've totally hit a wall and know that I can't keep spending 40+ hours a week, 50 weeks of out of the year doing something that I genuinely dislike... While you are struggling on the other end -- having a job that you enjoy but leaves you financially strained -- our paths have both lead to feeling of defeat in their own way. I'm trying desperately to figure out how to leave the corporate world to focus on being creativity fulfilled without becoming a starving artist. It's very clear that there is no easy answer to either of our dilemmas, but whenever I start to get overwhelmed by doubt I keep reminding myself that many people have proven that it is possible to marry art and commerce, and that this dream may take more patience than we want to give it, but that the dream is truly attainable!

    Lastly, I just want to encourage you to keep sharing your art with the world. A couple pieces of advise -- I would encourage you to invest in advertising and/or doing some giveaways of your art prints on other high-traffic blogs as a way to promote your work and get your name out there, if you can manage to save a little cash to do so (I can attest to the fact that most of the blogs that I follow are ones that I've found through their advertisements or promotions on other blogs). Or is that isn't a feasible option, keep posting pictures of your art as much as possible on Pinterest and Instagram with links to your Etsy shop and blog, because they are great resources for free advertising. You're so, so talented, and I believe that as more and more people get exposure to your work they'll start to follow you regularly as fans. I say this because that's exactly what happened with me -- I first came in contact with your blog a couple months ago, and have been following you regularly ever since. I think that there are a lot of future Youngbird fans out there that are just waiting for you to find them! :)

    - Becca in MN

    1. Becca,

      This comment seriously made tear up. It means so much to me to hear from other people who are dealing with things like this. This comment was extremely encouraging to me as well. All day today I've still be wallowing in doubt and sadness, and this really did perk me up. It's nice to hear even just one person have good things to say about my art. And all of your advice is also very helpful! I need to get better about things like that.

      I have my fingers crossed for you that you are able to find a creative pursuit that you enjoy and that can provide for you well enough for you to not starve! I would seriously love it if you kept me updated on this, actually! I'll totally be one of your cheer leaders.

      Thank you so much for reading and participating, Becca. It really does mean the world to me and I hope to continue to keep you as a reader.



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