Learning To Accept Criticism

Learning To Accept Criticism

Life is one big workshop, and you're in the hot seat.
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With the high tide of the semester rolling in and pulling out so quickly, it can be difficult to navigate the sea of assignments and rough drafts that seem to, all at once, be submitted and resubmitted. If you’re someone that takes criticism well, congratulations, you are probably less affected by this than the lot of us. However, if you’re like me and hearing your name said in a terse tone leaves shivers down your spine, this is perhaps the most miserable time of the year.

Being fully aware that accepting and learning from criticism is part of “growing up,” I am learning day after day, bitten tongue after sullen tear, to be okay with receiving criticism. The difficulty is probably deeply rooted in my childhood, which left me often feeling as if I lived under a microscope. Thus, with every nod and “thank you” e-mail I send out, I learn to repress my childish fear of changing myself and improving. This can prove incredibly difficult as an English major because there’s a certain pride in everything I submit (well, most everything). It leaves me feeling like every work I give in is, if not my best work, a well enough alone work. In math I often made mistakes and oftentimes could look back and see that; there’s nothing objective about it, I was completely and utterly wrong. In English, my work is something which belongs to me, and not to Avogadro or the Pythagorean Theorem.

When it comes to turning in a paper, either it’s perfect, or I knowingly submitted a crappy first draft in hopes of receiving useful feedback that I can later use to write said perfect paper. But I am not perfect, and when I played volleyball or threw a javelin or acted in school plays I wasn’t perfect either. While I think my self-esteem processes such information LOUD AND CLEAR, I often get so caught up in being the best I can be that I forget there’s room for improvement, and sometimes you need a helping hand in reaching the next level of progress. I shouldn’t say that I think that I’m perfect, but I sometimes think that whatever help I need, I can provide for myself, and that no teacher or instructor or coach can tell me different. But I’m wrong, and I know I’m wrong, and I am learning to cope in different ways.

One of the easiest ways I’ve learned to give in to criticism is by reminding myself that it isn’t the end of the world if I don’t do well. I have lived through 2017, I have seen what damn near looks like the end of the world, and it most certainly didn’t look like an A- on a research paper for an English Elective. I have found this especially easy when it comes to non-verbal criticism, and it has become easier and easier for me to read an email title, swallow hard, and open the tab.

The worst it could say is that I failed— realistically, the worst it could really say is a C+ because knowing myself I at least cited correctly and included all of the given criteria. Verbally, I often fail myself and start to cry, but for me, such is not unusual even in passing conversation; I cry sometimes when I look at pictures of dogs up for adoption that I love but will never have. I have learned to accept that crying is just part of me and that I can so casually do it that it shouldn’t even be a cause for concern. I cried, and?

The other biggest part of criticism that I am trying to break away from is the notion that I can’t do what is being asked. Often when you’ve got your mind set on one thing it can feel impossible to work past it or improve on it. Fiction can be difficult in this way, as so often I find myself getting wrapped up in my own story and characters. My own connection to the characters lets me forget that, hopefully, there are other people reading it.

William Faulkner was once quoted having said that in writing we must “kill our darlings,” and while the prospects of that seem scary, I am learning that criticism helps me to do exactly that, and I am all the better writer for it. I kill all my metaphorical darlings, I unravel stories and I thicken plots and I tighten prose and I do exactly what my teachers ask because, in the end, they’re probably right. They’re looking out for me, for all their students, and for every improvement I make I will find that all the constructive clouds have silver linings, if I’m willing to work for them.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap / Pixabay

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 A.M. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest,

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

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The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old doom room is now filled with two freshman trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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What Is Time?: A Poem

If the end is inevitable, Then the beginning is what?
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If the end is inevitable

Then the beginning is what?

If dying is unavoidable

Then when does living really start?

Take a chance

Not a dip

Use both hands

Don’t be afraid to trip

Don’t worry about them

Take an adventure for you

You’re going to wait, til you lose a bet?

Just take a risk out of the blue!

Be selfish for once, don’t wait

Because you never know what lies ahead until it’s too late

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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