During my childhood, I, just like many others, harbour dreams of becoming an actor on stage performing to thousands of people. Making them laugh with my hilarious antics or evoke emotions of pathos with my convincing dramatic performances. After every school production, it was encouraging to see many of my peers and teachers congratulating me on how well I’d done on stage. After graduating from junior college, brimming with confidence, I decided to audition myself as a resident actor in a professional theatre company, thinking that I might clinch the chance to fulfill my childhood dreams. It was unfortunate that the company rejected me after a few rounds of auditions. They emailed me a rejection letter detailing their reasons.

Dear Dennis,

Thank you for coming down

Unfortunately, we did not feel you were a suitable candidate for this programme for the following reasons:

1. You lacked presence on stage

2. Working with groups was not a natural process for you and you tended to alienate yourself from the rest of the group.  This is in contrary to our practice.

3. You are unaware of your physicality and your movements are unnatural and staged rather than organic.

To be honest we didn’t feel that the theatre industry was one that suited you and would suggest that you seek alternative avenues.

I hope this is useful.

All the best

I didn’t choose to become an actor in the end after multiple rejections from various theatre companies, but with these various setbacks comes a moment of clarity on myself. As my rose-tinted glasses with the Singapore’s theatre industry starts to fade, I realise that my priority on having a financially stable career didn’t meet with the job insecurity prevalent among actors in the industry. Rejections are a norm in this career field, a fact that’s hard for me to stomach. Speaking with my sister and friends working in theatre for years, it’s not uncommon for aspiring actors to go for months without getting a well-paid gig. By being more aware of the industry increases my admiration to those that choose the path less trodden.

I figure that rejections are part and parcel of life that we could use as a learning experience to know more about our risk appetites, likes and dislikes, and motivations in life. They can even act as guides to direct us to a new direction. After subsequent career workshops that I’ve been through, I realised that there are other avenues for me to showcase my creativity. One of which is through writing. Writing good content enables me to entertain readers and keep them informed on pertinent issues facing the world today. My interest in writing also stems from how it’s a powerful tool in influencing people’s opinions to generate change in society – a trait that carries a lot of responsibility. [Check out my blog here !]

Rereading this rejection letter has made me realise, in hindsight, that I shouldn’t be that hard on myself then. There are always other ways I can achieve my dreams – it may not be how I envisioned it to be at first. I want to be able to tell my younger self  – “you’re alright, things will get better in the end.”