Take it Personally, Just Don’t Keep it.
I think it is an almost undeniably safe conclusion to admit, that by this point, everyone has heard the age old cliché; “Don’t take it personally.” It is typically the first advice cited to anyone who might even remotely ever have to bear the brunt of some rather blunt criticism, and even more so may be one of the most reiterated lines used for comfort(even if it mostly fails in that regard).
Now, I’ve been finding myself of late with a wandering mind as I’m left with little else to occupy me besides idle contemplation. In case you’re unfamiliar, I’ll give you the condensed version; I’ve been dealing with Carpal Tunnel in my right wrist and after only just recently having had surgery I’m still what you might classify as ‘on the mend.’ As such I find myself with ample time to consider many things, primarily in an effort to preoccupy myself.
Honestly, there is only so much Solitaire you can mindlessly play before it’s starts to remind you that you’re only doing it because there is little else available to you. And while you could read endlessly there is always that nagging whisper in the back of your mind to remind you that if you do you’ll eventually exhaust what supply you have of enjoyable material. Then there is television… if you’re fortunate to find anything enticing enough to interest you on.
No, for me the habitual ritual of daily writing was an enjoyable part of my day. It was one that helped to provide me with structure and a sense of accomplishment. I won’t lie, I do miss it. But as you reflect on things, ironically enough, some issues blaze with a light of their own and just refuse to be cast aside.
To be fair; I’ve been scribbling little tales and the like for a good long while. In all that time, you can rest assured that I’ve seen more than my share of scathing reviews; I’ve been the receiver of both praise and ridicule – even silent indifference. And that is to be expected, honestly. In fact, I’ve always welcomed any form of feedback, as it helps you refine your work.
However, I have learned one little pearl of wisdom from my experiences, and even if it lacks any value to most it might resonate with some so I’ll share it here:
It is always personal.
Take it personally.
Just don’t hold onto it, try to remember to let it go.
What I mean by that is quite simply, anyone who makes something does so by placing part of them into their craft. Everything they make is personal to them. It reflects on them. Want to insult a cook? Speak ill of their food. Want to see a child cry? Tear apart the first book report or essay they attempt by pointing out every grammatical error, misspelling or improperly cited reference. It may just be a trivial thing to you, but, try as they might nobody can completely separate their selves from something they worked on.
For example; I recently stumbled on a review of the first serial-styled bedtime story I wrote for my kids. It was apparently very poorly received by the reader. In fact, the summary of the entire critic apparently only merited 2-3 very very concise sentences. The tale was little more than a novice approach to a bedtime story for small children. I believed I had clearly established it as such and even had gone on to clarify that it was, quite simply, something designed to be read to kids as young as 5-6 even. It wasn’t high brow literature meant for debate or deep meaningful contemplation. The wording, the characters, even the plot was shaped to be easy for a child to grasp, to enjoy.
A child could readily notice that at the beginning the young hero is terrified of the dark but that by the end he has grown to overcome his fear. That, while basic, is character development. The central character changed because of the events of the story. But, apparently, one issue with the story was that there was no character development.
Now realistically, I could by all accounts just ignore this person’s opinion and relegate it to something that didn’t exist to me. I could just as equally allow it to fester up inside me until it ate away and tried to turn me into some angry net-troll strolling about to lay siege to any negative comments. Neither avenue seems altogether healthy to me personally.
But what I will do is take such criticism personally – allow it to both motivate and enlighten me. I can’t please everyone, nor do I care to try. However, I can decide that next time around I’ll make it a point to approach my work with a better eye for what I’m trying to do and how well it manages to meet that goal. I can use it; help it to keep me passionate and the try to remind myself that it was just one opinion of a single soul that I have never known.
They didn’t know me either. Perhaps in the future though another will stumble on to one of my little yarns and find something enjoyable because of this. Then I can take that new smile just as personal before setting it aside and moving on. Because, it’s always personal; just don’t let it stay personal.