20 thoughts to recall when dealing with rejection and regain self-confidence
Hello and welcome to my blog!
My name is Clémentine and for the past 10 years, I have been touring worldwide as a singer in the Metal music genre. Visit my about page to get to know more about me! If my current musical career is successful in its niche and receives love from every corner of this planet, things haven’t always been this way.
Rather the opposite actually. I’ve been a bullied kid and teenager and nothing at that time was carving the path to success and popularity. At the end of this article I will share 20 of the thoughts to deal with rejection and regain self-confidence, that I personally developed and which saved my life through these hard times; they helped me shape the mindset which now enables me to live my dream!
But before I do that, I would like to share my story with you.
When your inner world falls apart…
I was born and grew up in the suburbs of Paris, France and I lived quite a happy childhood. I remember myself being full of self-confidence and feeling that I could achieve anything I wanted. I felt loved, I felt complete, I believed in my growing qualities as I walked through life.I had friends, I was succeeding in school and other activities, everything was fine. Until that fateful afternoon of Spring in 1995, at the age of 8, when I heard these 9 words that were about to destroy everything I thought was true about my world.
Mum and I just had a nap on the couch. I woke up as she was stroking my hair and when I was still dizzy, I heard her whisper “Dad and I are going to split up”. I can still hear these words as though this happened yesterday. They felt like heavy pointy stones falling from my heart deep inside my empty stomach. I held my breath and didn’t know what to say. I think I just burst into tears.
At the end of the Summer of that very same year, my sister and I moved down to Lyon as my mum had found a good job there. It was the first time I moved. The first time I had to leave everything behind: my friends, my house with my garden, my habits, my Dad – in short, my beloved world, full of memories of a united family…
I had seen my best friend’s parents split up and I was so convinced this would never happen to my own parents (even though with time, I realized I saw the signs way ahead…). My beliefs about this world, love, marriage, happiness, broke into pieces, together with my heart that up until now, still carry the scars from the pain I felt when my family fell apart. Back then I felt that never again will my parents be together, never again will life feel whole and complete. From that moment on, someone, something, would always be missing… And suddenly, a dark veil started to cover the sun, joy and innocence felt like places I had lost the way to and the thought of ever forming a loving family sounded like a cruel lie or an impossible reality. If my parents, my heroes, failed, why and how, could I succeed…
…and the external world doesn’t seem to appreciate you
In September 1995, I arrived into this new small school which was in a building in the city center with no outdoor playground. There were 3 classes, one for the smallest grade and 2 combining 2 grades each.
I knew nobody of course but I was happy to arrive there in September and not like Kat from “Casper” (I loved this movie so much!), arriving in the middle of the year and being quite rejected by her classmates. I was far from expecting this was exactly what was going to happen to me.
I behaved in this new class the way I always did in my previous school and which used to bring me sort of an admiration and respect from other pupils back then. I raised my hand when I knew the answers, I could recite poetry perfectly with the right tone and even heartfelt movements which made quite an impression on the class. I started to make some friends but at the same time gained attention from a certain group of 5-6 pupils, led by 2 girls who had the lead in popularity before I arrived. Of course, I knew nothing about it. But from one day to the next they rocked my world, turned my new friends against me, created specific jokes and mockeries targeting me and made sure I would not gain any support nor validation from anyone, on a daily basis.
Daily insults, laughs, even physical abuse. They hated me and wanted me to know it every single day. In the class, in the playground, at lunch, during excursions. Going to school became a nightmare. My stomach turned into a huge knot in the morning and I turned into waterfalls of tears in the arms of my babysitter every evening. I couldn’t see a way out. I had to go to school. I had to be in that same class. I had to face this first massive rejection that I felt was so unfair. It lasted for the entire year.
I felt so miserable, so worthless, so lonely. The times where I had everyone on my side when I lived near Paris felt like centuries ago. How I missed my past life as much as I knew it will never come back. I had to keep going, what choice did I have..?
At the end of the year, one of the girls of that group started to realize how unjustified all this was and started to appreciate who I actually was. As she decided to befriend me, her former partner in crime started mocking her as well, but this time, the rest of the group didn’t quite follow and at the end of that very year, I was no longer the center of their attention, which enabled me to live my second and last year in this school in a more peaceful way. However, some fresh wounds were carving their way into my flesh and I was far from knowing the coming years would make them grow even deeper.
Thanks to my grades and overall profile as a pupil, I got the chance to be selected to enter Lyon’s best middle and high school in September 1998. But this place wasn’t the one all the other pupils from my primary school were going to. So I started this scholarship from scratch, knowing no one once again. It was an international school, classes were mixing “European students”, selected French students, and international students who could fluently speak French and another language. I immediately loved this diversity and difference of horizons from where my classmates came from. I made some very good friends from the beginning, as well as, very soon, new enemies.
I am 1,79m (5,87 foot) tall and back then, from the age of 11 to 18, I was way taller than anybody of my age. Not only was I oddly tall, I was also very slim. Like my mum and dad. Some people would feel threatened by my sole presence. Some people just hated difference. Some people felt the victim in me and found an opportunity to feel superior. Some people envied what they could see in me. For all kinds of reasons, my physical appearance created another set of mockeries and laughs from the people in my class, other people in the school and also on the streets.
I felt like I was living in a world that was just rejecting me. I felt I didn’t belong. I had been forced to leave a life where I had many friends, a class in which I was popular and one of the best pupils of. The happy colorful time of the beginning of my life felt like decades ago, from another world.
Melancholy became a very strong life companion and I subtlety and slowly, ended up wearing only black clothes and silver crosses around my neck, for I felt I was carrying death with me, a little bit every day. Flirting with suicidal thoughts became entertaining.
People’s laughs accompanied my footsteps for so long that even some years after high school was over, when people laughed on the street, I would turn round, convinced I was what they were laughing about.
Until I was 18, I was not convinced anything about me was truly beautiful. I used to reject my own body in a way, my own face. I wish I looked like Nathalie Portman. I wish I had 10cm less, weighted 5kg more, had more of the curves the guys of my age were obsessed with.
Having my first boyfriend at 16, then a new one at 17, didn’t help regaining any kind of self-love.
When music (or art) saves the best of you
Yet, aside school and since I was 5, I always practiced a creative activity. I used to take contemporary dance lessons from the age of 5 to 8. When I arrived in Lyon, I wanted to continue dancing but didn’t find any classes of the style I was used to and asked my mum if I could learn the piano instead, because I loved the sound of it, loved the melancholy and romantic feelings I got when listening to it. For 5 years I had a jazz teacher who would very soon initiate me to improvise, which I loved right away. After some time, I realized I didn’t want to learn the piano to play anyone else’s music, but to find my own. I wrote my first piano piece with the help of my teacher, at the age of 9.
When entering middle school, I also joined the school gospel choir and started to develop my singing abilities. I remember myself singing ever since I watched “The Little Mermaid” from Disney, my ultimate favorite Disney princess. Probably because she’s such a rebel, an adventure seeker, with a passion for objects that belong to other times and places and because she follows her heart and takes risks… Anyways! Singing felt natural to me since I was a child and I kept practicing and developing this skill on my own until I was 16 and passed the audition to enter the prestigious Maîtrise de l’Opéra. It is a special class for pupils up to 18 years old, who learn and practice classic singing and join the choir of Lyon’s National Opera for special events on a regular basis. I received a very solid and demanding training in this environment which I didn’t know the codes of and got expelled from lack of knowledge of those very same codes (but this will be the topic of another article!). However, my voice and interpretation of the pieces were appreciated and I continued in this direction afterwards, joining several choirs of sacred music and taking private singing lessons from opera singers.
Music and singing gave a deeper dimension to my life, offered me moments of pure joy and self expression… When your heart beats faster, when time stops, when you feel there’s nowhere on this planet that you’d rather be…! I felt closer to myself, I felt I could set my heart and mind free when playing the piano or singing. I could create my own island of peace away from everyday’s nightmare at school. And ultimately, I started to have a dream… I knew I could never live without music and that my way in life would have something to do with it. Therefore, I knew I had to find my way or let my way find me…
When you find your artistic world
I discovered Metal in 2005 when “Bring Me To Life” by EVANESCENCE hit my radio and it-was-a-revelation. The way piano matched with heavy guitars, how her voice found a perfect place in this universe felt like a beam of pure light through darkness and despair… their album “Fallen” sounded like the soundtrack of my existence. And ultimately, I knew: THIS is what I wanted to do. I wanted to sing and write songs in a rock band!
The world at school where everyone conforms and aligns with what society will soon expect out of them rejected me. I knew it wasn’t my place. I wasn’t seen nor appreciated for who I was. Even though I still had very good grades and support from a lot of teachers who surely could see my potential, I somewhat always knew the traditional, “normal”, secure way, wasn’t mine. I needed to be able to express myself, to probably let go of all the pain the last decade had put me through.
The same year “Fallen” came out, I began to investigate to find more music of this genre, through magazines, record stores and soon enough, from other metalheads at school who became some of my closest friends, whom I still have today. A friend of mine back then lent me 2 records from NIGHTWISH and this was the second revelation. Symphonic metal, allying the heaviness of rock to the epicness of classical music, moved my heart to its deepest layers and I just wanted to be able to express myself in the same way. So I searched for a band of that genre and the same year I joined my first Metal band in Lyon and started playing concerts at local bars. I was starting to live my dream. But soon I realized I didn’t emotionally connect with the music we were doing and decided to leave. For the next 5 years I tried to put my own band together and started to collaborate and write songs with many different people, because I truly needed someone to help me turn my first piano and voice tracks into metal songs! But something didn’t click. A lot of metal musicians didn’t want a girl as a vocalist and I also felt like I had to spend so much energy to get anything done, somehow, the cosmos didn’t want this to happen! After several disappointments, I resigned and told myself I should enter a band that would need a new singer, instead of trying to form my own. 2 weeks after, WHYZDOM, the very promising philharmonic Metal band from Paris announced that they were looking for their new voice. I couldn’t believe it. Yet, it had been over 5 years since I had not played with a band and on stage and somehow I felt illegitimate to apply to the position. However, at the same time, I heard this tiny voice inside my head who knew how I could sing and she told me that if I didn’t try, I would never know and would never have the chance to show what I am capable of. I applied and they chose me. From this moment on, my goals in life, my priorities, shifted. Back then I had finished my studies (which had nothing to do with the world of music) and I was looking for a regular job, not with the strongest passion as you can imagine. But joining a semi-professional band of this genre of music which I wanted so much to explore as artist and singer, blew this attempt of getting a normal life, for good.
Since 2010, I have been given many chances and opportunities, I have been able to experience touring and playing on stage in front of the most intimate crowds to the largest festivals. I have been invited by some of the most prestigious names in the Heavy Metal scene to take part in their live DVDs, such as Kai Hansen from HELLOWEEN or TARJA, former singer of NIGHTWISH (which was a highly emotional moment for me due to how her former career had inspired me in the past).
I now have all the support one can dream of to get full confidence back, but I discovered that self-confidence has nothing to do with the amount of love and praise you receive, it’s a tree you water from within. Some of the most charismatic artists I’ve met are still full of insecurities. Self-confidence is something you grow back, from deep within yourself and I would like to give you some hints on how to manage this, if you find yourself struggling with this issue as well.
20 thoughts to recall when dealing with rejection and regain self-confidence
Here is a first list of the 20 major thoughts I personally cultivated when I was rejected and mocked. They helped me through those tough years, and I was able to rebuild a positive relationship with myself which ultimately led to achieving my dreams. So without further ado, here they are:
- Whoever you are and whatever you do, some people will love you, some people will hate you. Better do what you love and remain who you are
- The way people define you IS NOT who you are
- The way you define yourself based on what people are thinking about you IS NOT who you are
- If some people reject you, don’t try to understand you, don’t value you, they are not your people
- Rejection is redirection
- They can only harm you as much as you allow them to, by letting their words reach too deep within
- A lot of bullies have a lot of issues themselves (self-confidence related also); happy, confident people don’t bully others
- Replying to bullies with humor instead of showing how much they can hurt you, hence showing them the power they can have over you, is the best way to disarm them.
- Showing indifference to bullies also tends to calm their attempts at hurting you
- Becoming a bully yourself to ease the pain of being rejected doesn’t make your pain go away
- Having activities and friends outside school enables kids to widen their approach to life and relationships
- Everyone has special talents, you can learn from anyone
- Kindness is the ultimate answer to violence
- Your difference is a blessing
- Pursuing your dream(s) will empower you and help you overcome such issues
- No one can face these situations in your stead, you have to find your strength
- All the strength you gained from any hard moment in life, is a gift for the future. Just imagine you are in that video game and you receive a new powerful weapon every time you get injured fighting a boss. The key is to thank life for bringing in challenges, as every time you meet them, you’re rewarded with strength and knowledge. There are no failures. (Only learning opportunities)
- Find what you love to do and what you are good at, do more of it, find people who share the same passion as you and create a solid circle of friends with them
- No matter how hard things feel, how desperate a situation seems, how heavy and dark the clouds are, this is a phase and it won’t last forever. This too shall pass
- You are your best friend, forever.
It’s not always easy to apply all the things above, but reading them or thinking about them regularly helps rooting them inside of you. I definitely didn’t have the worst beginning in life that one can think of. Being bullied at school is unfortunately far too common. However, it would be wrong to underestimate the damages that the constant negativity and aggressivity received from others can cause to a child, a teenager or even an adult. I consider myself lucky that I built resilience from an early age on.
The point that I want to reach with this biographical article is to show you that no matter where you come from, what you’ve been through, you can become anything you want. Believe in yourself, your uniqueness, your talents, your passion, your heart and follow their voices only.
No one will ever know better than yourself what you are capable of. No one will ever know your worth better than yourself. Respect yourself, take care of yourself, love yourself.