Rejection Is My Light-Up Gameshow Arrow
January 5, 2021
I started to put together my manuscript and proposal of my memoir to submit to publishers and started to panic just a bit. What if I should do one more revision? What if I should have one more person read over it? What if they hate it? It’s my life story, does that mean they hate me? All of those evil little dragons in my mind started to breathe untenable amounts of fire until I remembered one of the very stories I told in my book about rejection.
When I was applying to colleges I was going the strictly Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater route. I was submitting not only college applications, but I was also putting together auditions and flying around the country trying to make the perfect impression on my favorite schools. All the schools I applied to were BFA programs except for two: The University of Hawaii, which was an option because it sounded pretty, and Muhlenberg College, a small liberal arts college in Allentown, Pennsylvania that my college counselor had recommended to me.
I won’t go into every sordid detail—you’ll have to buy my book when it comes out for the whole story—but I will tell you the college audition and application process was grueling. After months of waiting and hoping and wishing and praying and praying and praying and then praying some more the letters started rolling in.
I was pretty sure I would have a good shot at getting into schools. I got excellent grades, did pretty well on my SATs, my essay was in top shape and I had two different coaches for my college auditions. I was as prepared as I was going to get. I was feeling confident. And then the rejections started rolling in.
One after another, after another. My top BFA choices had quickly been ruled out, as were my second and third choices and every other choice that included me studying at a BFA musical theater program. I was dejected and heartbroken. “Why don’t they want me, Dad?” I had asked, ripping my dad’s heart out while asking the question. “I don’t know, baby, they’re crazy not to want you.” He replied, but no amount of consoling seemed to repair the hole in my self-esteem. However, I just kept doing what I knew how to do. Working hard in school and at dance, voice lessons, and acting classes. I just kept going because my heart felt meant for it. Eventually, it came time for decision making and I did, in fact, have a choice. Neither felt ideal at the time. There was one BFA program where I had been priority wait-listed and then there was the liberal arts school in Allentown, PA. Here was my dilemma: I could go to the BFA program, which is what I had dreamt of and more, except I thought the people at this particular school were unkind and got the feeling I wouldn’t fit in well there. Or I could attend the liberal arts school, which was completely different than what I had imagined for my college education (having become obsessed with the label BFA), but it had a stellar reputation for its theater department, and better than anything the most lovely people on the planet seemed to cover the campus from students, to faculty, to staff.
No shocker here, I chose the place with the people I felt most at home with and four of the most incredible years ensued. I got to perform like I always dreamed of, got a terrific education, and was surrounded by people I felt really cared about me, my well-being, and my future. All of this rejection had led to a new beginning. All of these no’s put me where I am today, and I am grateful every minute for that.
So, as I started hitting send on each email containing my life story and sending it out to people I don’t even know, the acid reflux started to subside. Rejection has always put me exactly where I need to be and I know this experience will be no exception.
Rejection is not a door slamming in your face (although it does often feel like that…) it is more like a massive arrow pointing you towards where you are supposed to be. Rejection isn’t about your failures it’s about your journey and future success. No matter what you will end up in exactly the right place and exactly where you need to be at the right time, just like I did in college and just like I’m sure will happen with my manuscript.
Happy day, I love you. XOXOX, CAMDW