This quote, slightly paraphrased, comes from Dennis Palumbo, a former screenwriter-turned-psychotherapist, writing about rejection. He says it as a reminder that rejection is often arbitrary and impersonal, so if you take it as a reason to be somebody you’re not you’re making a mistake.
Image: A poster for the 1979 film Being There.
Dennis offers an anecdote from his days as a screenwriter in which he and others were casting a young woman for a small guest spot on a show. After seeing a handful of options, they made a decision and moved on. He later overheard many of the young women concerned that they weren’t sexy enough, didn’t dress correctly, or didn’t make the best acting choices. In reality, the actress they decided to cast was chosen for a completely arbitrary reason:
What made [the decision] even more ironic in this case was the fact that we’d cast this particular actress because it was getting close to lunch-time and we were all hungry. As it turned out, all the actresses had been attractive and competent, so we just picked the next one who wasn’t taller than the show’s star and made tracks for the studio commissary. Our agenda — in this case, hunger — could never have been known or predicted or prepared for by the other women auditioning.
The point of the story is this: you’re going to be rejected a lot if you have lofty goals you want to achieve, but often times that rejection will have nothing to do with you. Many of us take a single rejection as an opportunity to focus on what we can change and how we can improve, but what good is change if we have no concrete reason for it? When you don’t know why you were rejected, don’t bother to speculate. Let it go and continue being yourself. Who else are you going to be, anyway?
Rejection [Psychology Today]