on permission, on no longer asking for it

I have been told plenty of times to expect rejection. To pray against it, but to recognise that it is probably the most likely outcome because competition is everywhere. One thing I have discovered however, is that I can't be rejected if I don't put myself in the position to be, I can't be denied permission if I don't ask for it. I know this may sound like an awful theory of a world where I sit around doing absolutely nothing, after having locked myself in a box room because I am petrified of rejection, but it's not. Let me explain; no one can tell me I'm not good enough if I don't ask them in the first place.

I have come to this personal conclusion after almost a year of plodding around in circles questioning whether I am good enough for the kinds of dreams I have and constantly asking for permission to execute these dreams from the same people over and over again. In my head these people are called gatekeepers; they standing with metaphorical shoulders wide guarding the gate to my unrealised destiny.  Through my journey, they have come in different shapes and sizes: judging panels, casting directors, literary officers, workshop leaders, theatre producers, academics, admissions tutors, publishers etc. These are the people that I have been begging, through endless applications, submissions, auditions, to tell me whether or not I am good enough. Some have said yes, but very rarely; the vast majority have said no, multiple times. Of course, belief in yourself is a thing, so is working on and constantly sharpening your craft, but at the end of the day we are human, rejection will always feel like a stab in the chest. A thousand rejections equal to a thousand second guesses. Am I good enough? Is this really what I am supposed to be doing? Maybe it's not. Maybe I should've listened to -insert unbelieving relative/friend- when they said I should just stick to the script, who sent me? Universe erm WYD, why did you lie to me and tell me that I was talented? This, coupled with the fact that these 'gatekeepers' are massively experienced and know what they're doing because otherwise they wouldn't be gatekeepers. After all someone also kept their gate when they were like me, so why am I complaining?

After being rejected and rejected and rejected and working on it and being rejected again and getting feedback and being rejected again and rejected and rejected and you know how the story goes; after all this I began to see no point in trying again. I have literally been rejected so many times that I know the exact configuration of a rejection email from just the first six words of the snippet before I even open it. Rejection emails unfailingly always start with 'Thank you for coming/ applying/ auditioning/ submitting'. They don't mean it, they are only letting you down easy, when you read this it is safe to toss all hope out of the window. I usually then proceed to open the email and without reading the, mass delivered, automated words in the order they were **not** typed, I scout for the word unfortunately. Unfortunately I usually find it (lol). I then begin to read the email, even though there is really no point. It is almost certainly guaranteed that somewhere in there will be some variation of 'we have had our greatest number of applicants this year', they will mention that 'the standard was high' which doesn't ever soften the blow as much as they think it does. If they are feeling really cheeky they will tell you to apply/audition/submit next year/season/semester.

For me, continuous rejection has led to frustration and frustration has somehow led to extremely aggressive proactivity. Like I heard a wise Nigerian once say: If you're rejecting me, me too I am rejecting you. We cannot come and kill ourselves. Instead of giving up, I have convinced myself that there is always a way around gatekeepers, after all they are only humans with subjective opinions not gods (even though they kind of are industry gods but ignore that). Sometimes they don't know that you are what they need, and in these times it is their [big fat] loss. Following in the footsteps of Emma Stone in La La Land after being rejected for the gajillionth time, I am putting on my own metaphorical, self produced, self directed, self financed one woman show. Finding another way, because I have decided that waiting for people to tell me whether or not I am good enough is bloody long. If a hundred publishers doesn't want your story, save your coins and publish it yaself. Don't wait for people to choose you, choose yourself. Start a webseries, start an online mag, stage a show, build an app, do something. Sometimes the vision is too great for people to understand it until you execute it yourself, and execute it spectacularly.

A lot of people say God closes doors so he can open other better ones. I say God closes doors because he is teaching you to open it ya damn self. I have made a note to self to stop asking for permission so much. I know in most cases it is impossible to stop asking for permission altogether (unless I somehow become Beyonce *amen amen amen*). Don't misunderstand me it is still great to apply/audition/submit where possible (believe me I still have a whole favourites folder full of things I apply to habitually), but in cases of rejection I am making sure to remember that where there is a gatekeeper, there is always a back entrance or a secret passageway or a crowbar lying somewhere that I can use to wedge the bloody door open myself if no one feels like letting me in.


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