Today I want to explore the concept of criticism and the role it plays in our everyday lives. For many of us, fear of criticism stops us from taking on new challenges, trying to step outside our comfort zone or learn new skills. I’d like to share with you how I personally deal with criticism and will do so through a personal anecdote.
Two years ago, I published my debut novel ‘Diary of an Immigrant Bride’, which is a cross-cultural love story. Just before launching it, I was terrified. Because I knew that as soon as the book was out in the world, people would have something to say about it. There would be opinions….feedback….criticism….reviews. Believe me, when you try to do something you’ve never done before, it can be pretty scary.
Anyway, I took a deep breath and sent out my manuscript. The book got published and sure enough, the reviews and opinions started flooding in. There were countless positive, amazing reviews that had only wonderful and glowing things to say about the book. They loved the story….they loved the characters. But like with any book that’s ever been published, there were a very small number of not so great reviews. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t hurt or disappointed by those reviews. Of course I was. But then I decided to look at criticism from a completely different angle. I asked myself if there was anything I could learn from it. I asked myself if there was anything in those pieces of criticism that I could take away so that I could do things differently next time. And I realised that if we give ourselves permission to learn from criticism….constructive criticism….we can grow and evolve as people.
Not all criticism is constructive though. Sometimes people are nasty for the sake of being nasty. It takes time and practice before we can learn to distinguish between genuine, well-meant criticism and what’s simply malicious criticism.
So, today I want to leave you with one thought: Don’t fear failure or criticism. Through failure and criticism we learn…through learning we succeed. On the journey to success, failure is a very crucial milestone. At this point, we can either admit defeat, turn and go back to where we came from. Or we can recognise failure to be the stepping stone it really is and keep forging ahead. The choice is ours.