We all have dreams and aspirations. Even though we are in the middle of a worldwide quarantine, I can assure myself that it is not enough to deter us from doing the things we want to do in life. Sure, some of these dreams may be put “on hold” for a little bit, but for many of us, we either stay persistent by making the necessary adjustments to make our dreams happen, or we seek alternative goals to achieve a certain degree of satisfaction and productivity during these unpredictable times.
With dreams comes results, and with results, comes criticism. Real talk, we all HATE to be criticized, don’t we? In a world that demands utmost perfection from every individual, we despise it when critics act all “killjoy” and personally take jabs at our own work when given the opportunity. From a “below average” album review from Anthony Fantano, to verbal abuse from popular figures such as Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay and Terence “Not my F***ing Tempo” Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons), criticism comes in different shapes and sizes. Here are some of my own stories of me getting criticized by my own family, mind you.
MY PERSONAL CRITICISM STORIES
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t take these “jabs” too well. If anything, my parents may oftentimes be some of the most ruthless critics I have ever encountered. By ruthless, I don’t mean that they physically and verbally harass me after every mistake I commit. It’s not part of their philosophy and DNA to yell at me for screwing up. Rather, they are “ruthless” in the sense that they are very keen if I miss a detail here and there or if I mess up in the middle of my work.
For example, when I was still learning how to drive, my dad was very meticulous when it came to the nuances of driving. He had such a watchful eye with what I was doing at the driver’s seat. After every trip, he would point out some of my mistakes and points for improvement. At first, I would often get demoralized, annoyed even, and wonder when I’m ever going to impress my dad. Now that I look back at some of my driving mistakes and heck, close calls, I knew the importance of improving every day as well as recognizing my flaws on the road. It was at that point when I identified driving as a responsibility, not a “cool guy” hobby. After all, lives are at stake when you take your talents on the road. I would not be cautiously going at 100 kilometres per hour on the highway every Sunday if my dad would not teach me and correct some of the mistakes I made at our small neighborhood.
My mom was not as hands on with my driving lessons compared to my dad, but she surely is the Grammar Nazi of the household. I’ll let you guys in on a little secret. She was my second thesis adviser in the sense that I was guided every step of the way, from picking a topic, to submitting the final hard bound copy. Of course, she had her questions, concerns and critiques. I’m not gonna lie, I was very frustrated that 21-year old me was still receiving help and criticism from my mom, of all people. To this day, she still edits my cover letter, resume and even some of my published works on this website. So you guys better give credit to my mom for being the original “editor-in-chief”.
Without my parents pointing out where I needed improvement, I would not be the driver, writer and person I am right now. I won’t expect this energy to end anytime soon, but in order to be successful, I need to keep soaking in all that wealth of knowledge and information, rather than sulking about these “personal attacks”, thus having my ego bruised in the process. It’s a lifelong lesson I have to continue learning, but I can honestly say I’m getting there.
CONSTRUCTIVE, NOT DESTRUCTIVE
Criticism is meant to be the former, not latter. The messaging and messengers differ from one another, as seen in the examples I gave earlier. However, I believe that all these are meant for us to become better versions of ourselves. Constructive criticism is not all about pointing out our mistakes. Objectively speaking, anyone can do that. The goal of giving constructive criticism is to give specific actions and suggestions in order for each of us to master our respective crafts.
Regardless of whether or not we have our own personal vendettas with our critics, the message must still be respected, whether we agree with it or not. I guess it’s no secret why my parents finally understand why it’s easier to follow our friends’ advice rather than those older and most probably wiser than us. That’s a different topic for another day. Back to my point, criticism is not the work of a hater. Rather, it comes from someone who has good intentions and wants to see you succeed, hence, the reason why they criticize us in the first place.
RESPECT THE MESSAGE AND ITS MESSENGER
Like I said, it does not matter whether we have beef against some of our critics. If anything, our world was designed for us to “silence our critics” and “prove them wrong”. We always see these cliché phrases appear in every sports advertisement or motivational speech at a TED talk. I have no problem going against the wave of criticism, but these lines are oftentimes misguided. Again, it’s okay if you can’t take criticism well. What is not okay is taking them too personal. One observation I have on most critics is they never hold grudges. They pay more attention to the creation rather than the creator. Their reviews are based on the product and not really the producer.
Sure, they may give side comments to the person once in a while, but for them, its all about what can be done to make the output better. They’ll give credit where credit is due when they finally see the progress and improvements made. Therefore, it pays to give them their due respects also. This does not mean you have to agree with everything they say. If you really want to “prove them wrong”, the best way to do so is by taking these criticisms and working on them until you’ve fully mastered your craft. After all, actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, respect towards both the message and its messenger is one of the key components for us to thrive in this world, regardless of where we end up.
So in a world full of snowflakes, try to be a sponge.
Don’t sulk after seeing all the positive feedback and points for improvement, just soak it all in.
Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.Anton Ego