A couple weeks ago, I finally did something that I’ve never done before: I applied to my very first craft show. I was a nervous wreck, and the amount of prep work I envisioned was exciting, but daunting. So, I did it, I ignored that whiny voice and applied.
Well, yesterday, I found out I didn’t get in.
I don’t believe that I posted that I was applying here, mostly because if I didn’t get in, I didn’t want to feel embarrassed with that failure out there forever. If I didn’t say anything, it could remain private and I could forget about it. But I thought about it, and decided, you know what, I’m going to share this. This is important for artists to know.
At some point in your artistic and business journey, you’re going to have to face disappointment. And really, that goes for life, too.
As sucky as it is, this is inevitable. Every artist goes through it. It’s not uncommon, you aren’t alone. The important thing here is not that you didn’t succeed, but that you keep going.
Art school was great because it taught me two things: how to make art (duh) and how to have thick skin. Really, really thick skin. Art students learn fast how to literally stand up and take criticism, to do it with at least a calm face on. To not only listen to a professor rip apart what you did, but to actively hear what they are saying, take their advice to heart, and improve what you’re doing.
Now, I’m not saying that the organizers were rude or mean or offered criticism; if nothing else, it was the best rejection letter I ever got in terms of politeness and letting me down easy (seriously, whoever they’ve got writing the rejection letters, kudos!). I barely felt the disappointment, but it was still there.
And you know what? That’s okay.
I moped for a few minutes, then realized it was a blessing. My fall schedule is so busy, and I hate feeling a ton of pressure to perform (hello, nervous breakdown, would you like to come in?). Since this would have been my first craft show, I would have had to invest a lot of money in displays and packaging and signage and supplies just to prep for it. Not that I couldn’t figure out (I always do – remember how awesome my dad is?), but after the disappointment faded away, I realized I felt relief. Relief? Why relief? Because deep down, I’m just not mentally ready to do a craft show yet. And that’s okay, too.
So, if you face a disappointment in your life, here’s what I’d do:
- Indulge yourself for a little while (a.k.a. mope. It’s okay, you’re allowed a few minutes of mope time). Surround yourself with things and people you love and care for. Give yourself a cookie, then…
- Shake it off. It happens to everyone, no joke. So, just keep on doing what you do as you regroup.
- Look back and analyze the situation objectively. Be your own art professor – what could you have done better? There’s always something to improve on. If it really was an objective decision on the organizers’ part, then brainstorm displays and budgets and designs anyway. It’ll help next time.
- Keep looking for a new opportunity. I’m looking at other shows I could do next Spring or Summer, and I might just volunteer for the show I didn’t get into this fall.
How about you? How do you deal with disappointment?
P.S. Did you know there are only 2 search pages of results for “disappointment” on Etsy, but 174 search result pages for “hope”? True story.