Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Rejection and a (near) brush with fame...

Rejection - it's an appalling word isn't it. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as 'the dismissing or refusal of a proposal, idea', the proposal / idea being dismissed and refused in this sad case is me.

In my search to find a suitable new role I have sent off countless applications, networked tirelessly and Tweeted, Linked In'd and Facebooked ferociously. For my efforts, I have been rewarded with unanswered calls, broken promises, and worse still, the dreaded rejection email which can feel like a perfectly timed blow to the stomach rather than simply an addition to your inbox.

Its par for the course in our current economic climate and I am certain I am not alone, but sometimes even with the strongest will, rejection can leave you languishing in self pity, moping around eating peanut butter out of the jar and resisting the urge to go back to bed with a back catalogue of Stylist magazine. It can also render you unable to cope with day to day situations that usually you would find hilarious.

Weird mug shot

While standing at Liverpool Street station last week waiting to meet friends, I was approached by a man with a clipboard and a camera; as a non-moving target I was an easy aim. I narrowed my eyes at him suspiciously, assuming he was part of a flash mob assembly or wanted to sell me a mobile phone. 'Hello,' he said in a smooth-as-silk voice. 'Have you heard of Dove?'

'Yes, thank you,' I said dismissively as he handed me a white leaflet adorned with the familiar columbiforme logo. 'We are casting non-models for our new skincare advertising campaign. Would you be interested?’ he said. I could have sworn he placed a heavy emphasis on the 'non-models' part of that sentence as I darted my eyes about looking for a hidden camera. 'Dove uses real women NOT MODELS in their campaigns' he said, stressing once again the non-model point. 'They also pay well'.

I am not ashamed to say that my ears pricked up at this point; after all I was unemployed and in search of any form of legal income to settle a rather large debt accumulated on the South Island of New Zealand a few months before. The week's rejection was hanging over my head like a black cloud so acting on impulse, I agreed - I try to live by the mantra that life throws all sorts of things at you and you had to try your hardest to catch.

Without delay, the man positioned his camera and took my photograph in one of London's busiest stations, a two-part portrait with a front-view (yuck) and side-view (double yuck), while I held a clipboard with my personal details scrawled across in it bold black marker pen. Effectively taking part in my own bizarre mug shot, with a nervous smile frozen across my face, people stared. I didn't blame them.

On my way home that evening, and in a wine-induced haze, I reflected on my experience and wondered if maybe I'd been a little aloof. The next day I contacted the casting agent who understood my trepidation and suggested that I emailed her some more photos, which I did. I waited patiently and genuinely didn’t expect to hear back from Dove anytime soon – things like this just didn't happen to me, especially with this mug (and that mug shot no doubt) and a lack of the necessary self confidence that the campaign embodied. Yet, late one evening that week I had a text from an unknown number that read 'Sorry for the delay Nicola, it's a YES! I'll be in touch to confirm'.

For the first time in weeks, I felt an enormous surge of energy. Ok, so it is not an every day occurrence to be cast in an advert for a popular skin care range and the thought of it actually made me shaky with fear (what did it involve exactly, would I have to be naked?! etc). However, it was an interesting opportunity, a paid one at that, and after weeks of rejection, a well-needed boost. I waited until the next day and with newfound courage, responded to the text saying it was great news and I looked forward to hearing more. I informed my husband excitedly, I rang my Mum who noted I sounded brighter for the first time in weeks, and even allowed myself a fleeting moment to dream about how I'd spend my earnings.

Reality bites

Leaving my iPhone unattended to grab a drink, I returned to a missed call and a voicemail. How prompt, I thought chirpily as I listened to the message. 'Hi Nicola, it's Shernhall Methodist Church. Just to confirm you're all booked in for the car-boot sale on Saturday morning. See you then’.

Erm, not quite the message I was expecting. It seemed my high street modelling career was over before it had even begun. Much to my chagrin it wasn't a casting confirmation for one of the world's biggest brands after all, but a courtesy call from Ken from our local church confirming the trestle table I'd requested for the weekend's forthcoming car boot. It was back to the drudgery of job applications and selling unwanted household items at a reduced rate at an ungodly hour on a weekend.

My pride was wounded but I had no choice but to see the funny side – what else could I do? It was that or head weeping to the peanut butter jar. I'm yet to hear from Dove, so not only have I been rejected for roles relating to my professional career, I have also been rejected as a non-model-model.

Reject the rejection

It's difficult to pick yourself up again after yet another brush-off but if anyone out there is also feeling the pain of rejection, please try to remember that it is temporary and it will pass. Rejection can happen to the best of them. When Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, was in her twenties and trying to find a publisher for her second book she was rejected - 25 times. She is now president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group and author of no less than 11 books amongst other things. She said in a recent interview '...don't be afraid of failure... Nobody who's succeeded has not failed along the way' and I’m feeling inspired by her words of wisdom.

So with that in mind, I'll carry on. Tomorrow, I'll wedge in another job application in my lunch break. I'll go for a coffee with a former colleague and I'll go all Out on LinkedIn.

Failing that, I've heard Go Compare is casting....