A lot of times I write about the things that work out for me as I follow my dream to be a writer and surfer: becoming a new ambassador for Daphne's restaurant, getting Roxy clothes in the mail, being published in magazines. But following my dream isn't always comprised of these feel good moments born from success. Sometimes my work gets left out of magazines it was supposed to be in or I enter a contest to win a surf trip and ask everyone I know on the Internet to vote for me only to get left out of the second round. Other times, this time to be specific, I work on a film for almost two years and then submit it to a surf film festival I participated in last year only to be told it wasn't selected.
This recent rejection led me to create a label for it on my blog to categorize all the posts I've written on the subject. This label is useful, not just to document the inevitable "downs" that go along with the pursuit of this dream, but because this will happen again. It's bound to, because I am destined to put myself out there again. It's part of who I am and this practice always comes with the appropriate amount of disappointment.
And when it happens, I cry (I always cry). And then these setbacks stay in the front of my mind for weeks. Sometimes I'm mad when I think about them, sometimes I'm confused, and other times I feel like an outright failure. My mom told me after this most recent rejection that "The only real failure isn't trying". And when she told me that, I said, "That's just what losers say" with real sincerity, even though I know she's right.
After this brooding phase passes, the defeat moves to the back of my mind where it remains for a year or two or more until I'm done using it as fuel to propel me. Fuel, because I certainly don't keep it there so I can dwell on disappointment or feel sorry for myself (only occasionally). I know life isn't long enough for that kind of melancholia. This is the path I've chosen and I have to be strong enough to deal with the inevitable obstacles it leads me to.
I use these setbacks to help provoke my next move, whatever that may be; another article, better and more refined than the last, a different movie, with a more imaginative plot than before. Because what else do you do? Give up? I'm not going to do that. Nothing, in pursuit of this dream, could be more depressing than giving up.
What are your experiences with defeat? How do you deal with it? How do you move on?