Question of the Day — Share Your Rejections

Jonah came home very sad from school yesterday. They had auditions for the school play, and the cuts were done very harshly.

All the fourth grade boys
were called on stage and asked to read lines individually. Decisions
were made about who was going to get what part. Then the kids were all called back up on the stage. The various parts were announced, and the kids who were chosen as Elders or Grandpa or Goblins or whatever left the stage.  Finally, a small group of kids who weren't chosen for
anything were left standing on the stage by themselves. Then they were
told that they could choose if they wanted to be hillbillies or
goolies — clearly consolation prizes. Jonah said that the other boys looked like they were going to cry, too.

As Jonah was catching up with his homework, Steve and I shared stories with him about our fabulous rejections. My favorite rejection was tryouts for the cheerleading squad in high school. I'm not sure why I tried out. I had never taken gymnastics. I'm not especially perky or school spirited. I wasn't even exactly sure what cheerleaders did; I had never gone to a sports game or seen them on TV. But I was vaguely aware that cheerleading was something that girls should do in high school.

Unsurprisingly, I sucked. It was made even worse by the fact that I thought that I shouldn't wear my glasses during practice and the tryout, so I couldn't see ten feet in front of me. Does it bring me some secret pleasure that the girls who made the team never amounted to much after high school? Oh, yes it does.

Question of the Day: Share a memorable rejection.

9 thoughts on “Question of the Day — Share Your Rejections

  1. I had a story rejected from Stone Soup when I was in 6th grade. I had submitted the story in 5th grade and the rejection came to my teachers after I’d already gone on to 6th grade. I remember my science teacher sitting down with me to explain that it wasn’t about me and that I should keep trying. I could tell he was trying really hard to make me feel better and to make the rejection not be about me personally.
    Despite that rejection, I continued to write and get more rejections. I kept a wall of rejection notices. I’ve now had a couple of things published. Knowing that acceptance is possible is what helps get me past rejections.

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  2. In grade 2 or 3, I auditioned for a part in the Wizard of Oz. Part of the audition was that you had to prepare a song to sing. For whatever reason I innocently chose “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar.
    I was expelled from the auditions for my scandalous choice and sent home early from school, (this is still kind of hard to understand but there it is) and banned from the play, although after some discussion I was allowed to rejoin the group – as a flying monkey. But not before I apologized. I never was chosen for a part at that school after that despite choosing more traditional songs for other auditions.
    Anyways, Jonah should know that I went on to have lots of great musical theatre roles in my late teens and early 20s. Keep the faith kid. 🙂

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  3. Interesting. We’ve been thinking about this exact issue a lot ourselves lately. There’s a variety show that the elementary school puts on. The kids audition in front of an audience and get assessed right there–they’re either in or out, and that’s it.
    I keep thinking there’s an instructional way to do this–spread it out over a few weeks, have each auditioning kid or kids get some useful, honest feedback about what works and doesn’t work, and then quietly make some selections, *if* the point is partly to acquaint kids with the idea of selectivity. OR just make the auditions themselves the show: have each kid get some feedback, have the auditioners see the other acts, bang that’s it. I mean, it’s 2nd and 3rd grade, it’s not like a variety show is going to be boffo five-star entertainment even if there’s a brutally selective auditioning process.
    I’d almost prefer that the really selective pressures get shunted off into shows outside the school itself for the kids and parents who really trying to push performance.
    That said, I do remember that when I once tried to learn how to sing when I was young, the music teacher eventually took me aside quietly and just told me, gently, that singing really wasn’t something I could do well. (It’s true: I’m kind of tone-deaf.) That stung a bit, but I’d rather that than being strung along or have false esteem-building compliments. You do need to deliver the bad news to kids at times. There are ways to do it gently and sensitively, though–Jonah’s experience sounds really terrible in this respect.

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  4. My dad was told to just move his lips for a school concert. I think he was quite a bit older. This suggestion was unfriendly, but not inaccurate.

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  5. “That said, I do remember that when I once tried to learn how to sing when I was young, the music teacher eventually took me aside quietly and just told me, gently, that singing really wasn’t something I could do well. (It’s true: I’m kind of tone-deaf.) ”
    Have you read “Horace and Morris Join the Chorus (but what about Dolores)?”
    “Horace and Morris but mostly Dolores loved to sing.” When they make music, Horace hits “the high notes.” Morris provides “the low notes.” Dolores, whose voice-bubble “La la la” is inscribed in a wavery line, sings “notes no one had ever heard before.”
    “Dolores pens an imploring note to the Moustro, who raves at her rhymes: “This would make a great song!… Of course you must be in the chorus to sing it.” Dolores gets lessons, and Walrod’s endearingly odd acrylics picture the tin-eared chanteuse trying her best among her pearly-toothed peers.”
    I’m also opposed to false self esteem raising reassurances. If you sing so that someone’s ears hurt, we shouldn’t pretend that’s not true. But, most people can probably be taught to sing, if we invest the energy.
    I’m shocked at the audition stories you’all are describing. Are we really more mellow on the left coast? I could attribute Jonah’s experience to 4th grade v 2nd, but an elimination audition for 2nd graders? I’m unaware of anyone who does that in our neck of the woods (and definitely not for school).
    Of course, there are the “goolie” parts, but leaving those kids on stage until the end? Can’t imagine it. Sometimes, do the teachers pick teams, too? Or, perhaps, there’s an audience appreciation section, where they use an applause meter to determine which 8 year olds get eliminated?
    Ugh, there’s got to be somewhere between false praise and brutality, for casual students.
    My daughter loves drama, and knows fully well which the good parts are (and she’s pretty good), but she’s never been in an “elimination” audition yet.

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  6. “For whatever reason I innocently chose “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar.”
    I didn’t know the song, but looked it up. Hilarious, imagining how the teachers felt, having an 8 year old sing “He’s a man. He’s just a man. And I’ve had so many men before”, about Jesus. I’m guessing no one advised you before you picked the song? In my kinder gentler world, it would have been a teaching moment. Was the director male? I can imagine a serious freak out situation in that circumstance. But, someone should have talked to you — rather than assuming the choice was purposeful.
    My kids love 1776, which is often OK, but does have some ribald humor (i.e. “May my wife refuse my bed”; “I can romp through cupid’s grove with great agility” ) — I just find it funny when my 5 year old sings it. But, I’ve told my daughter not to sing the “He plays the violin” song that Martha Jefferson sings in public. I explained “double entendre” to my daughter, and suggested that she should make other choices. She doesn’t completely get it (frankly, neither do I :-), but does follow instructions.

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  7. When I was a freshman in high school, I auditioned to be a dancer in the school musical. I got in but only because the choreographer had picked one girl (an excellent dancer) who got cast in a role and therefore wasn’t going to be in the dance-chorus. So I got to be in the show, but I knew I was the last choice. That was my training in impostor syndrome.
    After that I did crew, except in the summers when everyone who paid got to be in the show.

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  8. BJ, I was kind of taken aback too, because this school is generally pretty sensitive to this stuff, and then suddenly here they’ve got a highly selective audition process with an audience where a lot of 2nd and 3rd graders are told they didn’t make the cut. I just don’t see why that’s something the school itself needs to be involved with. By contrast, my daughter’s soccer league is still very much of the “everybody plays, everyone has fun, and maybe we’ll occasionally try to help you guys figure out how to play better” kind of thing, which strikes me as way more to the point for kids this young.

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  9. To experience spectacular rejection you need the kind of self-confidence that allows you to try out. I never had that in school, so was never rejected. Except, of course, when there was team picking in PE/Games, when I was always the last to be picked, and when, occasionally, the captain who was left with me suggested that he’d be better off if I was adding to the numbers on the other team.
    (Not cricket, though, but we didn’t do that in PE/Games).

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