“We regret to advise that, in this instance, your application has been unsuccessful.”
I received an email containing this phrase last week. And, of course, I was disappointed.
I know it’s a lottery to apply for residencies, exhibitions, etc. I know it’s a subjective choice, especially where art is concerned. I know an unsuccessful application doesn’t mean my work sucks. It certainly doesn’t mean I suck. I had the nerve to put my work up for judgment. That’s no small thing. The outcome doesn’t mean my application could have been better. It was a cracker – I certainly thought so. It simply wasn’t what the judging panel were looking for.
Knowing all this doesn’t temper my disappointment.
My disappointment feels slight in this instance, but I’m curious if I’ve learned to push my feelings aside and put on a brave face. I am wary of quashing my feelings. I often have a delayed emotional response to such events. I get the news, say, “OK, at least I now know the outcome”, and move on. My feelings make their impact a few days later.
And while I don’t want to wallow in these feelings, I don’t want to ignore them either. I’m trying an alternative to wallowing: pausing and paying attention to whatever arises. The loss of my (as yet) unrealised plans will be felt. The feelings will find their place and pass.
I can also frame the email as the result of an experiment. The contents are neither good nor bad. I did something, there was a response, and I got an outcome. I’ve helpful new information. How do I feel about this outcome? What did I learn from the process? What would I do differently next time?
So, while I am disappointed my application was unsuccessful, I know these feelings are normal and will pass. I’ve gained a better understanding of my practice from writing my proposal. I can see where I want to take my work. I’ve clarity and direction, which, as things go, is pretty damn successful.