Michele Thomas

Jazz • Music • Connection

The B.S. of Thick Skin

Ugh! I hate being rejected!

That's some of what I dealt with this month…rejection. I know it comes with the territory. I know it's just part of "show business". Whatever. That don't make it no easier.

And not all rejection is the same, mind you. There's the "don't call us, we'll call you" breed of rejection which, in my book, is the preferable form and much more digestible. Then there's the kind that gets under your skin, like the kind I experienced this month. I think of it as "smug rejection"; the kind where someone can't simply dismiss you out right…no, they need to mess with you and leave their mark of disapproval on you before releasing you back out into the wild. It's aggravating, because you can tell some people just get a little too hung up on their own sense of power in the world ~ and they then want to demonstrate that power over you….

Grrrrrr….

The Farce of Thick Skin
That being said, whenever I do get in a funk over a particular rejection I think about all the cliches and platitudes you tend to hear about the "thick skin" you need to endure it all "in this business." (….she says in an old timey voice wiggling an imaginary cigar to her mouth.) But the truth is, no one has "thick skin" - at least not as it pertains to your emotional anatomy. Emotions are felt which makes them inherently penetrable, and thus why they are in fact, emotions. To tell an artist or creative person that they need "thick skin" I think goes against their very nature, because how do you dream, envision and create without feeling emotion? Without feeling sensitivity? The answer is, you don't.

So does "thick skin" help you to survive? Maybe. But it seems like a more realistic path would be that of resilience. Resilience allows me time to feel the pain and grief, and from out of its' depth, ideally make the room to feel even more joy and gratitude down the line.

So I'd say to any artists out there, embrace your thinner skin. Allow the pain in when necessary, and then nurture yourself back to joy.

…oh and try to remember that if you experience a "smug rejection", you were better off not getting that opportunity anyway, right? Right.