Updated: May 5
I’m delighted to have another guest blog this month! Morgan-Jayde Milne, a PhD Candidate at the University of Birmingham, shares some top tips for coping with rejection based on her PhD research. Thank you, Morgan, for such insightful and practical advice!
Rejection in dance is unavoidable. It is likely to happen to us all at one stage in our careers or another, whether that be at an audition, for a place in a choreographed piece, or by a teacher. Being rejected is hurtful, disappointing, and frustrating, especially after all the hard work, sweat, and tears you put into training. After being rejected you may find yourself questioning your ability as a dancer, your future chances in the industry, your identity as a dancer, your confidence, and your motivation to continue. It is a difficult situation to cope with but can be overcome – however, dancers are often unaware of how to deal with rejection. So, here are 5 tips that can help you cope.
1. Accept and allow yourself to feel and express any emotions that come with the rejection.
Often, dancers are taught to have thick skin and just get on with it if they are rejected. But this can make you feel like you have to ignore and avoid the negative emotions, or perhaps that they are not acceptable. Rejection can cause emotions like sadness, anger, guilt, disappointment, disbelief and many more. Accept the emotions that you feel and let yourself experience them. It is important to give yourself empathy and be ok with how you are feeling to overcome the rejection and move forward.
2. Consider what you can take away from the situation you were rejected in.
Rather than reflecting on the rejection and how this is a threat or harm to you as a dancer, try to reframe the rejection into a learning experience for you to grow from. This is a mental skill referred to as cognitive reappraisal. For example, maybe you got to meet a new choreographer, or learn a new dance skill or move that you liked. How will that help you going forward? When we are rejected we tend to reflect on the negatives and what went wrong, so instead try focusing on what went right and how you can learn. Try making a list of questions to prompt you after situations like auditions on your phone, in a notepad, or where is most accessible for you.
3. Reflect on past positive and enjoyable experiences in your dance journey.
Try to look back and remember the times in your dance journey when you have been successful and how that felt. Think about how enjoyable dance is for you and how much you love dance to help you see the other side of rejection. This will help re-motivate you and remind you of why you dance. It will also help to reduce the negative or unpleasant emotions you may feel and increase the feeling of more positive emotions.
4. Remember your self-worth and value.
Don’t take the rejection personally. It is one situation that someone has decided you are not right for. And this is often due to reasons outside of your control. Remember, that one rejection does not dictate all possible future opportunities. It is not everyone in the dance industry rejecting you and there will be other chances where you can attend and be successful. Try using positive self-talk (i.e., your inner voice) to remind yourself that you are enough, and success will happen. In the same list as the questions prompting you to use cognitive reappraisal, write some affirmations for your self-talk following rejection that remind you of your worth and value both as a dancer and as a person.
5. Accept support from those around you.
You may find yourself switching off from those around you after you have been rejected. That is ok if this is how you cope. But remember that support from others is critical to coping with rejection: this has been found in recent research amongst dancers who had been rejected (Milne & Neely, 2022). Support can help you to remind yourself of your worth, re-motivate you, and generally make you feel better. Try talking to your support network and advising them of the kind of support you would like to receive after a rejection. For example, you may like to be reminded you are good enough and you can do it, you may prefer that they emotionally console you and do not talk about the rejection, or you may ask them if you can simply vent to them.
We all cope in different ways and sometimes it takes time to work out how we as individuals best cope. These tips will help you begin your discovery into coping with rejection and will help you to keep it in perspective. Remember, a "no" can also mean "next opportunity!"
Milne, M. J., & Neely, K. C. (2022). Exploring female dancer’s emotions and coping
experiences following deselection: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 63, 102289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102289