How To Overcome Defeat… By Not Seeing It As Defeat

In the arts, one of the first things they tell you is that you will have to learn to accept rejection.

This is true for any industry, but the entertainment industry is particularly unforgiving when it comes to giving out jobs.

Here are five ways to brush off that feeling of inadequacy, and be on your way to the next opportunity.


1. You Don’t Suit their Artistic Vision…

…and that’s ok. As opposed to other industries where your biggest setback might be a lack of qualifications, the entertainment industry (whether it be acting, singing, fashion, etc), is big on looks, and if you don’t look a certain part (unless you drastically alter yourself with plastic surgery), you will not be chosen.

This is discouraging because you start to judge yourself excessively. But the truth is, just because you don’t suit a job doesn’t mean you will never make it; it just means you don’t suit that particular job.

Put yourself in their shoes: an artist’s creation doesn’t only affect their reputation, but it is truly like a child over whom they are protective.   No matter what the artist thinks about vision, it is vital that they remain true to their own ideas.

So if you don’t get the job, it doesn’t mean you are ugly, or untalented, or mediocre in any way. Never, ever take it personally!


  1. Getting Everyone’s Approval…

…will not help you in the long run. In fear of angering others and potentially being rejected (or so you think) you’ll end up spending more time trying to please everyone instead of focusing on what is better for and/or your career. Will you get good results? Maybe, but it’s at the expense of a lot of worrying, anxiety, and giving too much just because you’re unable to say no.

Sacha Crouch argues that one of the best ways to stop seeking validation is by analysing choices. Are you doing this because it feels like the correct choice, or because you want people to be satisfied?

Granted, sometimes you can’t be too choosy about what directors or bosses ask you to do (especially if you think that doing it will give you good opportunities in the future), but don’t mistake this for an obligation.

Being assertive about something that feels right or wrong to you, and potentially being fired for it, does not make it a defeat. It makes it a success because you just avoided something that would make you unhappy. Don’t grind your teeth to please others.


  1. Giving Up…

…is the reason so many people say the arts is the toughest industry to get into. It’s not; it just takes much more perseverance than any other business.

Not getting the role, not being hired by that agent, not receiving that call, all of these things will deter your motivation to continue pursuing your dreams. There will undoubtedly come a time when they will happen so often, you become impatient, frustrated, you start to blame others. The best way to deal with this is to accept that every experience is just that: an experience you can learn and grow from.

The outcomes of our choices cannot be predicted or avoided. Choices, on the other hand, can be changed.

It’s helpful to turn the tables are around and see defeat as something positive: it means you still have room for improvement and that you are far from having reached a plateau.

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” – Marilyn vos Savant


  1. You are Not the First, Nor the Last…

…to go through failure. Some -if not most- of all the successful people have been through the harrowing task of pushing on and on despite others telling them to stop.

Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times before it was published. Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company)’s first two attempts at building a company failed and resulted in bankruptcy. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off-stage during his early stand-up gigs. It is not only part of the industry, but part of life.

Whenever you feel like you’ve reached the end of your patience, remember that that is exactly the moment that separates successful people to those who weren’t able to accomplish their dreams. Try again and again because eventually, if you really want something, you will reach it.

Failing will happen, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, so you might as well have a ‘no fear’ attitude towards it. This does not mean you should expect to fail, but when it happens, accept it.


  1. Being Realistic…

…is not synonymous with being pessimistic.  A pessimist would say they failed their audition because they’re untalented, unattractive, and a failure at the chosen career. A realist would say they failed because they didn’t have enough sleep the night before, didn’t study their lines, and didn’t research the project enough.

The problem is not the event, but how you handle it.

The most rewarding things in life are achieved by taking risks (a term relative to each individual; a risk for you may not seem like a risk to someone else), but that is why the results are rewarding; because they are hard to achieve.

Ideally, being objective is a great way to tackle such tasks, but unfortunately no one is ever completely objective.   The key is to know when to approach scenarios with an optimistic or realistic perspective.


Anuschka Rees argues that :

“We all tend to evaluate events according to three dimensions:

Internal/External – Whether we think the event was in our control

Stable/Unstable – Whether we think similar events in the future will turn out like this

Specific/Global – Whether we generalise it to other kinds of events.”

Furthermore, she suggests being a “happy realist”:

“Make sure you are a true realist and not a closet pessimist, i.e. always try to avoid generalisations for negative events and aim to use the unstable/specific dimensions.

Positive beliefs are derived not from the total number of good experiences but from a low ratio of bad vs good experiences, so being more realistic (and positive) when evaluating negative events helps a lot already.

As for the third dimension (internal vs external), it is never 100% obvious how much of something was due to you or external influences. In most cases it is a mixture, so at least try to balance your judgments.”


Look at your goals and see them for what they are, don’t expect failure, but be prepared for it. This train of thought in it will already get rid of “defeat”, but it will also help you move forward if things don’t work out as planned.


There is no such thing as failure: failure is a word people use as a cheap excuse for surrendering without a fight.

If while pursuing your dreams you fall, stand up, brush the dust, treat the wound, and try again; this time you’ll know where to place your feet, for there are a thousand different stones to step on in order to cross the river.


Xiomara Meyer is a drama and creative writing graduate with an interest in psychology and the slightly bizarre. Samples of her work can be found here

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