How Painful Constructive Criticism Helps You Grow

Personal Criticism Can Hurt You, But It Can Also Grow You

As much as I have been forced to grow up, I do indeed have a lot of growing to do.

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Sydney Brown

"You're the most immature child I've ever come across. Always acting like you're some beaten dog. Grow up."

What a great note to end on when dropping your niece off, after visiting her mother in the hospital, right? Way to stick it to her. She really should take in those words, because the real world isn't easy. Let's face the facts, she won't make it in the real world. Maybe, if she came out of that room of hers she could experience a taste of what it's like out here. If she would stop acting like she's better than everyone, maybe she could have friends. Maybe — just a wild guess — you don't know a single thing about your niece, because, if you did, you'd realize she's been living in the "real world" for quite some time now.

Ever since I was a young girl, I've been told to stop my storm clouds. I've been called dramatic and an attention seeker, because I wouldn't push away the darkness that was covering my light. The funny thing is, a sky doesn't choose to be taken over by a storm and it does not have the power to make it go away. All the sky can do is shine through the small cracks until the clouds say they are done. That's precisely what I've done since my brain grasped the concept almost two years ago. It came a little too late to change my mindset on giving my favorite teddy bear to Goodwill or forgiving my cubby buddy for not leaving me room to put my play-doh next to my backpack, but right on time for the rest of my life.

My aunt wasn't completely wrong in her word choices. I do act like a "beaten dog" at times. In my opinion, 50 percent of the time it's justified and the other 50 percent is just me doing way too much. Which leads me to the last two words she threw at me: "grow up." That was the double-edged sword of her banter. As much as I have been forced to grow up, I do indeed have a lot of growing to do. It would take a lot for me to give her the satisfaction of saying this to her face but ignoring it only proves that I have a lot more growing to do.

In every great story, there is an inseparable pair. They can easily be pointed out, considering, most of the time it's hard to tell them apart or even realize that they are separate beings. I had another half. It is a stereotypical story of meeting in kindergarten and spending so much time together, throughout the years, that the words "mom" and "dad" start to apply to more than just the biological two. Sadly, as seen in many films and read in best-selling novels, every pair does not get a happily ever after. Usually, the break-up is over something as dramatic as a crush or as simple as growing apart. This was not the case for us. We demolished the crush battle and gave each other room to develop without cutting off ties — at least we thought we did. Our ending was a camping trip.

On the last night, through teary eyes and pinned down limbs, the pair grew apart. Over the next week, two places to call home became one. A lot of aging took place in a small wormhole of time. This is why my aunt's words were almost laughable to me. Carrying around that weight with no one to turn to, because the only source I knew of for most of my life happened to be the little cousin of the bricks piled on top of me, is a trying time. Understanding and grieving properly while adjusting to a new school and new surroundings is overwhelming.

Nevertheless, I became the young woman I am during this period. I became more observant and, over time, I stopped apologizing for being emotional in public. My passions came to the forefront and I discovered all of the different ways I can make an impact on the world by speaking up. I wore what I wanted and taught myself to not back down when challenged. With my shoulders back, mind clear and head held high, I grew into myself. I was no longer a half of a memorable pair. I developed into a memorable whole. I had grown up.

As the older soul I now identify with, I recognize that I have a lot more developing to do. I've seen bad and experienced the pain it brings, but I have not had the pleasure of meeting good and what it may toss in my direction, yet. I have grown, but I am not a grown-up. I will be an incredible adult, one day. I'll think about my aging process and be thankful for what it showed me and where it took me. I'll be able to look at others and say with the utmost confidence that I've lived, loved, accomplished and persevered. I will look at a younger version of myself and tell them to grow up. I do not mean for them to go out and experience trauma, as I did. I mean for them to sit back and observe the world around them.

Hopefully, they will appreciate all of the times they've been called dramatic or told to push their storm clouds away. For the lowest of lows lead to the biggest rainbow and, if they dig deep enough, perhaps they may find gold. I am still shoveling through the dirt, but I've found a few gems in the process. I guess that means I am going the right way.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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