If you know me, you know I don’t believe in a work-life balance. I strive for the work-work balance. Day job to support the night and weekend hustle. Workout and/or meditation every day to fight off crushing anxiety and depression. Cut out sugar to stay awake long enough to get all this shiz done everyday. Sip tequila when needed. Repeat. This is the routine, most of the time. It’s a methodical practice of necessary self-discipline and patience. The nihilist in me wonders if it’s really worth it.
It’s hard to see progress at this pace. The solitude of an individual routine, while empowering, can be pretty lonely. I’m grateful to live and get along well with my sister Ghost and pup Ruby. We support each other’s habitual grind because that’s how it’s always been. But it doesn’t leave much time for friends or dating, especially if it entails just ‘hanging out.’ I thrive on stress. Or maybe it’s an addiction. The work-work balance only perpetuates this mentality and makes me question my priorities.
Every residency/grant/illustration submission I’ve submitted in the past two months has gotten a rejection. Honestly, I was and still am slightly discouraged. Hell, I made 800 flippin patterns and not one of them made someone say, Hey, this gal’s got some potential. But again, I am reminded it took almost 300 pattern designs before I felt like I had made any progress and it might take 1,000 more designs to evolve my work in a way that resonates with a larger audience. Rejection sucks, there is no denying it. But I have proof of progress and that in itself is reason to continue, to try different things. Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year is a solid post by Kim Liao I come back to often that captures the advice, “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”
Equally importantly, you develop grit. You find focus in areas of your work that you will follow through on. After so many rejections, the idea of a work-work balance feels pointless. But the stubborn optimist in me believes my everyday experiences influence a tangible output. I want to incorporate life into my work-work balance. These things exist in the same universe and should be approached as such. 100 rejections a year would force me to assess my values, figure out what’s truly worthy of so much disappointment, build up a thicker skin to view my work and myself objectively. Slow growth in my work-work balance is still progress and much more sustainable than a work-life approach feeling burnt out and living through compartmentalization.
Sort of a ramble to get some personal struggles sorted but curious how other folks deal with rejection. Is it a reason to keep up the hustle?
<3 H Lee