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Mastering the art of rejection

Tess Paras is an LA-based actor with a professional background in communications and small business entrepreneurship. She's appeared on television shows, commercials, and musicals throughout the country and co-hosts the new web-based tal...

Act like you know

There are times when you won’t get cast as a girlfriend. In this special series, "Act like you know," I share how many of the vital lessons I've learned as an actress have helped me navigate the dating world. Take it from a professional -- there’s an art to rejection (and no, I don’t just mean the beautiful paintings you can make out of tears and Nutella).
Just dumped woman

It’s not going any further

I was so upset. I had just sung for a Tony Award-winning director at my umpteenth callback for a Broadway musical and I knew that was the end for me. During my session, his notes left me confused. He didn’t finish his sentences and I was so nervous that I couldn’t connect the dots. Though I did my best to adjust, I knew that we weren’t on the same page.

I left the session, sat on the stoop of a nearby brownstone and stared at the New York City sidewalk. I took deep breaths and cried silently right there in public. I felt like I put everything I had into two weeks of casting sessions. Then, I was crushed when the hero director and I didn’t have any chemistry. The next day, my agent called and said, "It’s not going any further."

I was angry that this director didn’t fall in love with my performance and I was disappointed that I didn’t fall for him either. It felt like I was dating this show and I wanted it to work so badly, but it just didn’t fall into place.

No one likes rejection

Here’s the truth: Rejection sucks. You lose self-worth. You start judging yourself for all of the things that could possibly be wrong about you. You get angry that someone passed on you and chose someone else. Whether it’s an acting gig or a breakup, it hurts.

You know what that feels like, right? Yes, you do. And, that’s my point. It happens often and to everyone. Regardless of how frequently we have the fortune of getting cast, every actor has been rejected at some point. There is even the possibility for actors to be re-cast after they’ve started a project! (Watch Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future before the role was recast. Note: Prepare to have your mind blown.)

The art lies in repetition

As a working actor, my lifestyle cycles through phases of auditioning and booking. Rejection is just part of the process. That repetition has helped me cope with getting dumped in my personal life. I meet men and date, and I understand and accept that not every guy I spend time with will be a match. Rejection happens a lot, but you can also trust that it won’t happen all the time.

Furthermore, I’ve learned that I have a stake in how much I prepare for each audition or date, how much I invest, and -- if it doesn’t work out -- how much I’m willing to let go in order to feel good again (Note: There are very few stoops to cry on here in Los Angeles so, instead, my new coping mechanisms include getting aggro at the gym or playfully reducing men down to nicknames like "Man Baby/Dirty House").

The more I put myself out there in both the dating and the acting worlds, the more opportunities there are for rejection. However, I cannot forget that I’m also creating more opportunities for success.

More dating

How to cast your boyfriend
4 Ways to deal with romantic rejection
Acting tips to improve your dating performance

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