Saturday, November 5, 2011

On failure and rejection.

This summer I applied, for the first time, to be a teacher at a bead show. About a week ago, they returned my jewelry samples, along with one of the kindest, gentlest rejection letters I've ever read.

It was still a rejection letter, though, and it was disappointing to get it. I was hoping this was my Big Chance to break into jewelry instruction... and to earn more money to buy beads from BeadAlgo.

Sad, right? But not the end of the world. In fact, it might even be good for me in the long run.

I remember the second semester of my infamous chemistry class. After a successful first semester, I was a little bit cocky, and I didn't study as hard as I should have. I got a 75 on the first exam. I was upset at first, and embarrassed, but I realized it was a wake up call to study harder and better.

I went beyond the easy problems in my textbook and focused on the practice tests the instructor had given us. I did them until I was sick of them! The next exam was brutal, but while the top students in the class got scores in the 60s and 70's... I got an 87.

And the test after that? I got a 98. It would have been 100, if only I hadn't changed one of my answers on the multiple choice.

I learned two important lessons from that experience. One, working efficiently is just as important as working hard. Two, failure can be a good thing because as long as you let it, it can be a stepping stone to even greater success.

The classes I submitted to the bead show were fun and original, but they weren't my best. For reasons both outside of and within my control, I did a rushed job. Now I have time to make my good classes great. To polish the instructions, add photos, and present bigger, cooler projects. I have a humble goal, which is this: to send in such an awesome application, the lovely folks at the bead show beg me to teach. At which point I will cheerfully and enthusiastically accept. And perhaps bake them cookies.

So if you've been rejected, if you've failed to reach one of your goals, it's OK to be disappointed and sad. For a little while. But then, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and know that you succeeded where it's most important -- in putting yourself out there. Failure isn't a reflection of who you are, because you are awesome (I am a Doctor of Sparkly Things, so I must be right).

And who knows? It might be the kick in the pants you need.
PS: There is now a second part to this post, which you can read here!


  1. You have a great attitude about things, Sarah! Good luck to you the next time you submit to teach!

  2. Sorry to hear about the show - they must be mad in my humble opinion but your outlook is the best, life is all about finding the positive in the negatives. Will you post a picture of your fabulously awesome entry for us??? Much love, Jennibellie xx

  3. You are very brave. Keep trying. I am quite sure you will get in if it is something you really want to do.
    Applying to shows and getting rejected is very hard on the ego.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I'm a long way from submitting anything, but I will definitely keep this advice in mind!

  5. What a great message!! It sounds so simple, but failure and rejection can be one of the biggest battles to overcome. It takes a lot of inner strength and wisdom to understand the lesson. It's important not to become a victim and dwell in the failure, but as you said to brush your shoulders off and try again.

    Stopping by from FTLOB... good luck next time! <3

  6. Good for you girl, you will be the best, I like your open mind:)
    Coming from comment love day.

  7. here from comment love! These are such wise words! I too am definitely the kind of person that learns from rejection/my mistakes! WIshing you lots of luck as you continue on your jewelry adventure!

  8. This is an awesome post in many ways. Not just th example given but how you wrote it. Thoroughly inspiring!

    BTW Regarding your comment on my blog today. I guess teenagers have different priorities. My pick from any language guidebook has to be "Where are the washrooms?"

  9. Great post! I am sure that your persistence and attitude will guarantee you to be a shoo-in next time!

  10. Cool post... love your commitment!

  11. Thanks, Katalina!

    I have to say, this attitude was a long time in the making, but I'm glad I learned the lesson when I did. :)

  12. Jenny --

    Here's a very early blog post with my bead show entries!

    Also, thanks. :)

  13. Roberta --

    Thank you! I like thinking of myself as brave. :)

    I think another valuable lesson I learned from this is how the application process works. There's a lot involved, but it isn't difficult, so hopefully next time won't be quite as scary.

  14. Shirley --

    You're welcome! It makes me happy to know I can help someone. :)

    When you get to the point where you apply to teach or submit pieces to contests, I think you'll find it's scary, but also exciting. Because it means you're confident enough in your work and your level of experience to put it in front of people.

  15. Kristen --

    Thanks! You're absolutely right about not dwelling on failure. It's an easy thing to do, but a waste of time and energy that could be put into making more creative things.

    Thanks for stopping by! I've subscribed to your blog because I think it's awesome you're going to school to do something creative. :)

  16. Pearl --

    Awww, thank you! It makes me very happy to read your comment.

    Hee! When I was a teenager, I didn't know what a discotheque was, to be honest. I just thought the word was funny, so it stuck with me. But I think knowing where the washrooms are is much more important. :)

  17. sorry to hear about your show! love your positive attitude!

  18. Thanks. :)

    I wish I'd gotten in, because I saw it as a Big Opportunity, but life is full of opportunities, and I know mine will come when I'm ready.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Such a great post! It's hard to know at the time, but sometimes there is something better down the road. I recently received a rejection for a magazine project and then a little later received an invitation to submit something else--and received more pay than the first opportunity!

  20. Thanks, Michelle! :)

    I'm so excited for you! That's awesome, and very encouraging. It just goes to show that it pays to do excellent work.

  21. Thanks, Erin!

    Also, I'll totally be sharing your sequin collar with my Twitter friends. I can't get over how pretty and pink and sparkly it is!

  22. yeah, it's a failure -- on THEIR part for not realizing how awesome you are!

  23. Thanks, Andrea! You're awesomesauce. :)

  24. I love this post - so encouraging!


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