Earlier this month, on the spur of the moment, I signed up for the online writing course I mentioned in my last post. I’m all of a week in, and I can tell you this: the best part of it (having someone critique my writing) is also the worst part of it. To put a little bit of yourself on paper, to make yourself vulnerable by sending what you’ve created to a stranger who will highlight problems in it that you didn’t even know existed–it’s the sort of experience that leaves you feeling rather small. Which isn’t to criticise my instructor–he’s doing what I’ve paid him to do, after all. I’m grateful for it and I need it. But, ouch. Criticism isn’t easy to take.
As I write, I’m waiting for feedback from a friend about something else. I’m wondering if I will feel bruised after that too. And I’m hoping that I won’t be told that what I hoped were swans are ugly ducklings after all.
I could have avoided both of these situations, but I chose to open myself up to the possibility of criticism from people who care. So now I must swallow the medicine I’m given.
This thing about receiving criticism makes me think of children. (I’m sure I’ve read about this and/or talked about it with someone but I can’t remember the details). Pretty much all day every day, there are big people pointing out all the things they’re doing wrong: “You have toothpaste on your cheek.” “Look at the state of your room!” “Five fives are not thirty.” “Sit still.” “Don’t do it that way–do it this way.” And sure, there are times when the little people don’t like it. But if I had to endure as many corrections in a single day as the average (loved) child does, my ego would be in shreds. I would be sitting in bed at the end of the day crying about what a failure I am and how I can’t do anything right and what’s the point of even trying–which, in case you’re wondering, is not what the average five year old does every time he goes to bed.
So this is one of the ways in which, I, as an adult, need to be more like a little child: to gracefully put up with being having my mistakes pointed out to me by people who care.