One potentially life-altering afternoon spent hanging out in my bedroom as a teenager, my friend stumbled upon some of my poetry and stories. I was so horrified, I nearly crumbled the pages, shoved them in my mouth and swallowed them. I felt naked and as though the innermost workings of my mind were miserably exposed. I recall her laughing and reading my poems aloud with a mocking tone. It was a torturous moment for my teenage self. In that moment, my English teacher's praise of my writing was irrelevant. My friend, whom I deemed as wildly beautiful and effortlessly cool, was disapproving.
I recall deciding then that I would need to conceal that part of myself. The notion of no longer being acceptable was much too terrifying. What if I had allowed that moment to forever cement a faulty belief that writing meant I was lame? Had I allowed such a belief to penetrate my inner framework, I wouldn't be doing what feels as lovely and organic to me as rolling my windows down on a beautiful and sunny 75-degree weather day.
Some Feedback Deserves Nothing More Than To Be Shown The Door
My mom advised me recently, "Lacey, just remember you will please many, but you're never going to bat a thousand. No one bats a thousand." Not every melody is going to resonate beautifully with every ear just as not every person is going to be inspired by every story I share. Still, I believe feedback is a key ingredient in every success story. We need the exchange of ideas. I have learned, however, that not every assessment should be granted an open invitation. Some feedback deserves nothing more than to be shown the door.
Sadly, oftentimes when one attempts to build their own empire, there are others who possess a knee-jerk reaction to be critical of it, to dismiss it or perhaps attempt to knock it down. Some are even waiting for the moment to silently applaud when it crumbles to the ground. Interestingly, though, those individuals are often not building anything at all. If a person is building nothing, it is impossible for me to take their feedback seriously. However, if a person is working as I do, dreaming vividly, bursting with aspirations and staring at a computer screen into the wee hours, if they are roaring like a lion and training like a beast, I want to know what they think. I would love to swim around inside their brain for a moment, even. However, if they are spewing poison in my direction while merely clucking like a chicken, why should I be interested?
Oftentimes Those Doing Nothing Are The Most Eager To Critique
If one is not also brave enough to step onto the stage, if one is not also tying their shoelaces and warming up for the race, their assessment of my efforts is irrelevant. If they are not courageous enough to join me on the field, their feedback offers no appeal. If they're sitting on the sidelines, picking their fingernails leisurely, delivering comparisons with an air of mockery, I have no interest in their critique. Neither should you.
"I could do everything she is doing and more," says the girl who has yet to knock on a single door.
"I have greater skills and more talent than she," says the girl who is doing nothing about the girl who is succeeding.
"If I trained that way, I could put him to shame, " says the lazy man with a scowl about the man wiping the sweat from his brow. "
"I could write a better song than that, by far," says the man with dust collecting on his guitar.
It's always those doing little who claim they could do it so much better. It's nothing more than their own feelings of inadequacy.
The applause is owed to anyone who is brave enough to pursue their wildest, most far-fetched dreams. The credit goes to those who are rehearsing until their feet are cracked and swollen, who are researching until their eyes can no longer resist the need for slumber and who are on the battlefield wearing a brave face even on the days they would rather revert to the safety of their bunk and hibernate. The credit goes to those who dare to be brave, who have the audacity to stand up for their dream and give birth to something, allowing the champion from within to emerge. The ones who give breath to their visions without waiting for permission deserve the applause regardless of how many times they may stumble and fall.
Perhaps Your Vision Wasn't Meant For Anyone Else To See...
Not everyone is going to share in your enthusiasm or be eager to celebrate in your venture, and it's okay. It doesn't mean they are either right or wrong; it simply means your vision is not their business. Oftentimes those who are criticized the most passionately or deemed as 'crazy' are on a path to make history. It's up to you to stand up for idea, for your goal, for your truth.
One of my favorite stories is in regards to Jack Canfield, one of the co-authors of Chicken Soup For The Soul. He was relentlessly begged to select a different title for the book. His advisors attempted to convince him it was "cheesy" and would not have mainstream appeal. Their intentions were pure, yet they were unable to see his vision. Jack knew he and his co-author had crafted a collection of stories to explicitly comfort and nurture the heart of every future reader, therefore he was certain there was no title more fitting. He claims to have experienced a surge of energy throughout his body each time he spoke the title aloud. There was an inner knowing he could not stray from, therefore he was unwilling to compromise. The book is now a series with 250 unique titles, and has become its own sub-genre.
I do not expect every person to see my specific vision, for it wasn't gifted to them. It was gifted to me. The same applies to your life and your vision. It is your responsibility to stand up for what you love more than anything else in the world; to put in the time, to plant the seeds and to nurture your soil. It is your obligation to develop it, to birth it and to nurse it.
We must resist the urge to focus our eyes on 'the other guy,' for comparison is like a thief in the night. It may seem innocent, but it will rob you of energy needed to sustain the race, it will drain your fuel, it will distract you, frighten you and eventually cripple you. There is plenty of room for everyone's completed mission. All you have to do is remain committed to your vision without seeking approval or asking for permission.
I'm just being honest.
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