I saw part of this originally in a post by Rachel Held Evans. Then I went back to the original post and found more to quote.
Validation is an interesting thing though, and no matter how strong or unphased by criticism we are, there is an undeniable human desire to have people like what we feel passionate about–our art, our words, our stories, our styles, our writing, our opinions. It’s why we sometimes feel hesitant to publish or share. What will people think?
Let me answer that. If you share, if you publish, if you write, if you speak, if you are brave and decide to put yourself out there, I promise you, someone won’t like it. Someone won’t agree with you. Someone will misinterpret. Someone will think that you are silly, unqualified and that your work is crap. That you are crap. They might not just think it but they might tell you. And that won’t feel good, especially not the first time you hear it. But it is necessary. And it’s okay.
My friend Melina is a fabulous writer. She lives an adventurous life and writes riveting accounts of her excursions. She is funny and witty and brave in her writing. Sometimes I read her stories and think “I want to write like that.” Her blog readership has understandably increased the last year and I wasn’t surprised when I recently received an e-mail from her–sister’s first really really nasty comment. Girlfriend took a punch to the gut, and I’m not going to lie–it was a doozy. The commenter went for the jugular and beyond. In summary, the comment wasted a lot of needless words to say “You. Are. Crap.” And Melina’s e-mail to me went something like “I am shaking, I am pissed, I am processing this.” And I shook my head and smiled and thought, “I get it, I get it, I get it.” I promised her that she would grow confidence and understanding faster than a Chia Pet grows sprouts–that it was good and normal she felt this way and that this whole experience would help her own her words, her style, her work and be proud of it. I told her that the hurtful words shared had nothing to do with Melina and everything to do with this commenter’s pain or insecurities or desire to do what Melina is doing. Within two days, Melina was on a roll again. Wrote a hilarious piece in response to that hurtful criticism and then moved on…fiercely. She’s more confident in her writing–I can tell.
For me, receiving negative criticism has been an important tool in self awareness and owning my voice. I’ve gone from believing what mean comments pointed out (I am a horrible person and I suck at writing), getting angry with the people who wrote them (You are a horrible person and you suck at leaving comments) and doubting if writing publicly was really something I wanted to do to a completely different place of understanding and compassion–both for myself and the people who are hurting enough to project it in a carefully crafted you-are-crapcomment. I have a dear friend who has helped me with this. She talks about pain–how we are all hurting–and she helps me see nastiness in the world as the need for more love. Does that sound unicornish? Maybe, but it has helped me move forward and embrace cutting comments both in and outside of this little Internet, as an opportunity to initiate more kindness. We’ve all been there–the hurting one.
Read the full post by Kelle Hampton here.