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Dealing with rejection as a singer is not only a recurring topic for those who are brave enough to sing. It is also an issue that prevents people from singing in the first place!
I know too many people who wouldn’t even take lessons just for fear of being judged by their singing teacher.
Of course, rejection is painful for everyone. However, it is an especially significant feeling for singers because it can prevent them from developing and using their talents.
So if the only reason you are not yet a singer is your fear of rejection, keep on reading!
We all know that dealing with rejection is really tough; but do you have any idea where it comes form?
We live in a world that is very different from what it was thousands of years ago, but our nervous system hasn’t completely caught up with that yet.
In the VERY old days, being rejected by your tribe could mean death. You couldn’t survive without the support of your fellow tribe members. So it makes sense that our brain will react strongly to that – after all, it wants to keep us alive! So first things first, if you struggle with dealing with rejection as a singer, acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with you. It is a biological reaction and for your brain the danger is real.
However, we can also use our brains to help us in this process. While our primitive brain is screaming “do not do it!” when it comes to risking rejection, there are other parts of the brain that can help you overcome those fears.
Because let’s be real, while we thank our primitive brain for keeping us alive, the truth is that if we would go through life not doing anything that could make us face rejection, we wouldn’t have a very fulfilling life at all. We wouldn’t ask anyone for a date, we wouldn’t take any job interviews, most definitely we would not take any singing audition!
All the great artists you like have faced rejection and the fear of it. There is no way around it. Unless you work on it.
If you are a singer who doesn’t sing because of fear of rejection, firstly take the time to think about it in a more rational way. What are the real risks of being rejected? What is the worst that could happen? If you don’t get the part if someone tells you that you suck. What would that mean for your world?
Probably not much! And yet we give others so much power that we just won’t follow our dreams.
Think for a moment. Are you really willing to give up the joy of singing forever just because a nasty choir teacher told you you weren’t good enough? If you are going to give so much power to a single person, maybe choose someone that actually encourages you and supports you!
Go ahead and write your thoughts down. Ruminate about it. Your rational brain will probably help you get to the conclusion that when it comes to singing, what others think should not be an obstacle. Think about your favorite artists. Do you think that everyone likes them? NO! in fact, the more you put yourself out there, the more criticism you are going to receive.
Ok, so now you understand intellectually that dealing with rejection as a singer is almost unavoidable and that is not the end of the world. You know that the biggest an artist is, the more criticism they receive.
Now is time to get practical. Some weeks ago I wrote an article about setting goals as a singer. One of the things I mention there is the importance of being clear with what is your PURPOSE for singing. We are now being specific about dealing with rejection as a singer, so all the actions you take regarding this will have to align with that purpose.
Everyone has a different level of sensitivity. If your fear of rejection is huge, don’t start by going to audition, in front of millions of people, on a TV reality show, where you will be mocked by a mean presenter if you get anything wrong. Start small. What is the smallest thing you can do that takes you out of your comfort zone without stretching it too much just yet? For some, it might be auditioning for a musical. For others, it may be to go sing in an open mic. Or taking a singing lesson. And for others, it might be to just practice at home knowing that someone could potentially hear you!
Now, if it is out of your comfort zone, you will face uncomfortable feelings when it comes to actually doing it. Your brain will be all over you, trying to prevent you from doing it. DO IT ANYWAY. It will be OK. Show your primitive brain that it is safe to sing, that you can survive and thrive by doing it. Dealing with uncomfortable feelings is necessary if you want to have a fulfilling life. The better you get at it, the more you can accomplish.
Now, the hard truth is that no matter how amazing you become at singing, there is always going to be someone that doesn’t like you. In fact, there is always someone that is a prick about it! However, in most cases, people that are mean to others about their singing are not really good themselves. So in most cases mean comments are not really backed up. “You suck” is not a valid criticism. Why do you suck? Because you got a note out of tune? Because you forgot the lyrics? Because you chose a song someone didn’t like?
So firstly, make a point of exercising a very important skill: not taking criticism or opinions personally. The fact that everyone has a different opinion shows you clearly that opinions are not the truth. They depend on the person that gives the opinion away, and not on you.
Secondly, at the time of receiving criticism, divide them into two categories: constructive and non-constructive criticism. A non-constructive criticism usually comes from someone that expresses an opinion as if it was the truth. Criticism like: “you suck”, “person X sings it better”, “you should pick other songs” “I don’t like your style”, etc, says more about the preferences of the person giving the criticism than your ability to sing.
Having in mind that everyone is different, we shouldn’t really be worried about those comments. Non-constructive criticism are the ones that we can discard right away. Don’t lose sleep thinking about it. Especially if you had people that did like what you did!!! Put your energy on those people instead.
Now of course there is also constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is usually about something specific about your performance and not about you. Something like: “this part was out of tune”, “you were struggling to hold this note”, “the song might have been in the wrong key for you – too high – too low”, are opinions that are worth listening to. They might be wrong or they might have something to teach you. So if someone comes up with something like that, don’t take it personally. Humble yourself and at least consider what they are saying. It might be that it could help your performance in the future, or you might decide it is not helpful and move on.
So as you can see, criticism and rejection are not the end of the world. You can take measurable steps to succeed in dealing with rejection as a singer; to enable you to achieve your singing dreams and really explore your full potential as a singer.
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