Tuesday, July 3, 2012


So, today I experienced that old familiar feeling. I was officially rebuffed in my first attempt to attain a professional endorsement.

Interestingly enough, on the exact same day, a great friend of mine asked me if I had any advice on how to deal with criticism and someone else's negative opinions.

Great. Time to walk the talk now, Joel.

As a struggling musician, rejection is not a new concept for me. I've played to completely (and by "completely", I mean "completely") empty rooms, been passed-up in battle-of-the-bands competitions, been ridiculed for dropping out of college to pursue my dream, been fired from a band, and had guys quit on my own group. And I can honestly say that I don't think any of them were easy to deal with.

There are people who naturally handle this kind of thing really well. For me, it's been more of a process (a very humbling process, at that) of learning that other people's negative stuff doesn't need to drag me down - I have deeper hopes than this and just because I failed in the here and now doesn't mean that I've failed completely. It could come around in the future, and many times, it has. My biggest problem is in second-guessing myself: Did I do something wrong? Did I send them the right kind of material? Should I have been more flashy and less musical? Do I need to play the game more?

Point being: I think rejection does its damage when I'm too self-focused. I know I'm not perfect. I'm not the best drummer (or person) in the world, so why should I be overly upset when other people notice it, too? Not to mention the fact that I know, I know, that when I finally do achieve what I'm going after (God-willing), any rejection I experience along the way will make it all the more sweet.

Still, rejection sucks. Of course it does. If it didn't, no one would learn from or grow because of it. I don't want to be the guy who gets all mad and bitter and uses rejection as fuel for success - that seems like an empty motivation to me. I want to succeed for valuable reasons: the music itself, my family and friends, and most of all, for the glory of God. Part of success is recognizing how much I don't deserve it. Anything I do achieve will be the product of not just my hard work, but the investments of others into me, people's belief and support, and the grace that has completely defined my life for as long as I can remember. I know this. I believe in timing and purpose. Still... it would've been cool for them to say 'Yes'.

Ah, well. C'est la vie. Tomorrow, I will continue to be an aspiring drummer and writer who gets to play as part of an amazing and cutting-edge musical situation. I'll get to hang out with some amazing friends in order to celebrate my country's birthday. My family still loves me, my bandmates dig playing with me, and my dog still gets excited when I come home. This moment of rejection (like so much before it) changes nothing for me.

So, why was I upset, again?

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