Being an Architecture student and a Musician, I understand what it feels like to be criticized. I mean, when you have put in your best into a particular project only for your supervisor, your friend or colleague to ‘rubbish it’ right to your face. There are other areas where I face criticism but these two fields have really taught me how dealing with criticism is a must.
When we put in effort to ensure we do our best in the things we lay our hands on, what our mind and brain really wants is to be praised for the work we have done. However, many times, we are being chastised instead, as we are questioned about the decisions we have taken, ridiculed even when we believe we have done the best and called a ‘fool’ when we have done that which we so much believe in.
I was still in High School when I first joined the Choir. Back then, I thought I had the best voice or at least one of the best voices in the whole choir until I gained admission into College and changed my environment.
I joined a new church and the first service I attended blew my mind as I saw a new dimension of church music: the coordination, the voice, the synergy, the dressing, and the music composition was nothing I had never seen before. However, because of the passion I had and my myopic thought of having one of the best voices in the world.
I attended the choir rehearsal with the mindset of joining. I sat down and the music director noticed that he had never seen my face before; he asked me a few questions and then called me out to sing any song (the goal was to discern how good my voice was). I started singing confidently and in my head I thought I was definitely ‘killing it’ until he stopped me and asked: what are you doing?!
The question literally destabilized me and to make matters worse, he asked me to go back to my seat. Fear gripped me, the reality that I was a bad singer dawned on me. My sadness increased when the other guy beside me, who was also a first-timer, was asked to come out and sing! As he started singing, the Choir screamed out loud as they were amazed at how good his voice was. You can imagine how sad I would be.
I had three options:
1. To never go back to the church while I sat back in fear.
2. To blame it all on the Music director as I made myself belief that he hated me.
3. I could face the reality that I was not just as good as I thought and I need to improve.
Well, as you might have guessed, I choose the last option. Although it wasn’t the easiest thing to do but I am glad I did.
I would ask questions and more. All these efforts made me better and I finally joined this same choir. I became one of their favorite singers and everyone loved the uniqueness of my voice! Had I not been criticized by my music director, I would have been going around with my self-acclaimed good voice which in reality was just not pleasing to the ear.
As a student of Architecture, I would have worked on a design for weeks, spending about 12hours per day on it and then the critic would come and say words like: ‘what is this?!’, or, ‘this cannot work, you have to start all over again, or ‘you didn’t spend enough time with this work and it is so obvious’ and so on. I feel bad whenever these comments are passed on my work but rather than letting them stop me, I have learnt to receive the criticism and make it work out positively for me.
How do I make criticism work out positively for me, you ask?
Well, you have to first of all understand that if you ever want to take any step towards achieving your dreams, ever want to really say how you feel about something, if you ever want to pursue that which you truly believe in, then be ready to live with criticism at every turn!
Criticism is just another man’s opinion about your work.
There are people who will criticize you in a loving manner just because they want the best out of you and want you to be able to have reasons for your decisions. There are also people who will criticize you because they never had the courage to push forward as you are, the ones that just can’t stand to see you succeed where they couldn’t and would say anything just to make you give up. They are the ones who have never seen anyone doing what you are doing and would rather make you feel as though it is not necessary and even impossible rather than tell you they have never seen anything like it. Recognize these two categories of people.
A friend of mine once confronted me and said: ‘why do you speak English as if you are the only one that understands it’ simply because I was using the correct pronunciation. This same friend of mine said to me one time: ‘why do you add effects to your voice when singing, is it because people are already following you on Instagram and they like your singing videos?!‘ What she said got to me but rather than stopping, I got better. A few years later, she said to me: ‘I love the way you speak good English’ she also said: ‘can you teach me how to use vocal effects when singing, I have an audition I am preparing for’.
But you have to decide if you want to run back into your ‘hiding place’, into your box or you would let it prompt you to break more boxes.
Take criticism from everyone, filter it and hold on to the genuine ones as you improve on it and watch yourself become a better you.
Related: How to Handle Criticism and Make it Work for You
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