It’s hard to imagine someone as successful as Reese Witherspoon ever having to deal with rejection or failure. But of course, she’s human like the rest of us, and she recently opened up about how she has learned to pick herself up after a setback.
Witherspoon reflected in an Instagram post about how social media tends to focus on successes, but that rejection and failure can actually help us in life, too. You might be thinking, who in their right mind would call failure a good thing? Luckily, the actress clarified the slightly confusing statement with a story from the early days of her career.
“When I first started as an actor, I went on an audition for a part that I wanted more than ANYTHING,” she explained. The role was alongside a “huge male movie star” as the lead. Witherspoon was called back several times for line reading and a screen test. “One day my agent called and said, ‘You didn’t get the part, the lead actor liked working with another actress more.’”
Needless to say, she was absolutely crushed to be passed over. “Oh boy, did I cry. Ugly Tears. For three whole days,” she continued. And that wasn’t the only time Witherspoon had to deal with career disappointment. “I was always considered TOO something: Too short. Too feisty. Too energetic. I once got told I seemed too smart to play a young female character.” Yikes, getting judged on everything from her height to her intelligence definitely doesn't sound fun.
She admitted it can be difficult not to take it personally each time, but after allowing herself to work through her emotions (“I definitely cried in the shower a lot in my 20s.”), she realized she had also learned a lesson: “Rejection teaches you perseverance and how to get tough. And you learn [that] not every path is right for you.”
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So many stories on Instagram focus on success, but sometimes it’s important to remember that rejection or failure can really be a great help in our lives. When I first started as an actor, I went on an audition for a part that i wanted more than ANYTHING. This was an incredible movie with a huge male movie star as the lead. I had 3 callbacks, then a screen test and one day my agent called and said, “You didn’t get the part, the lead actor liked working with the other actress more. “ Oh boy, did I cry. Ugly tears. For 3 whole days. But I recovered. And I got a different job. It wasn’t the same and I never watched that movie (!) but I learned so much from that experience. Over the years, I lost as many parts as I got. I was always considered TOO something. Too short. Too feisty. Too energetic. I once got told I seemed too smart to play a young female character. 😳 I'm not gonna lie, sometimes all the rejection would hurt my feelings, I would take it personally. I definitely cried in the shower a lot in my 20’s. What I didn’t know then was : rejection teaches you perseverance and how to get tough. And you also learn ... not every path is right for you. My friend @kerrywashington always says “Rejection is God’s protection”. You are on a path that is made for YOU. Sometimes the universe is protecting you from a bad job or a toxic relationship. So remember next time you fail at something or someone leaves you heartbroken.... let yourself be sad, grieve what didn’t happen for a minute but move ON. Better things are waiting for you. 📷: @abeautifulmess
Looking back on your own life, you can probably pinpoint similar times you’ve had to dust yourself off after feeling rejected, only to find something even better. Sure, it stings when something we might have worked hard for slips through our fingers, but there’s always another opportunity waiting for us to grab. Or as Witherspoon put it, “Remember next time you fail at something or someone leaves you heartbroken.... Let yourself be sad, grieve what didn’t happen for a minute, but move ON. Better things are waiting for you.”
We couldn’t agree more!